|Grancy, Kingman (age 5) and Grandpa Steve at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC|
This has been a trying few months for Kingman. His beloved great-grandmother, affectionately known as Grancy, passed away on November 7, 2011. Kingman always thought of himself as her "little protector," helping her down the stairs and looking out for her when we went out on the many field trips we did as a family. She was spirited, wise, strong and a voracious reader. Her bookshelf was a window into her beautiful soul revealing the depth and breath of her interests from Japanese Bonsai plants and watercolor painting to Southwest Indian Jewelry and her collection of Royal Doulton Character and Toby Jugs. She was an avid collector, first Indian coins from 1856-1909 and later Black History Commemorative Stamps.
In some ways I believe my grandmother laid the foundation for me to homeschool my children. She was a great believer of self-education. She taught herself so many things, including sign language in order to communicate with my sister, who is deaf. She was fiercely proud of our African and Native ancestry. Books about slavery, Africa and free blacks on the Eastern Store of Maryland (where we come from) filled her shelves. Without the aid of a computer, she located my grandfather’s relatives that he had not seen in more than 30 years. She also traced our family history back to the 1890s on the island of Barbados in the West Indies. And it is here that Kingman and I will carry on the tradition. My grandmother and his great-grandmother did the work of finding the first 7 generations. We plan to keep going and hopefully trace it back 7 more generations.
I will always be indebted to the legacy of information she has left behind, especially the gift of geneology. Because of Grancy, history as a subject will have so much more meaning for my sons. Revealing this history has helped us better understand who we are and strengthens us as we discover that we come from a long line of freedom fighters and self-educators.
When Kingman turns 13 he will go through an African Rites of Passage that will require him to recite his lineage back 10 generations. Thanks to our beloved Grancy, we already have a head start.