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Aunt Ruth

As Thanksgiving Eve, November 22nd, 2024, unfolds, I find myself enveloped in the familiar chaos and warmth of home. The playful sounds of my toddler echo through the house, blending with the comforting aromas of Thanksgiving preparations led by my wife and mother-in-law. It's a scene of domestic bliss, yet not without its complexities, much like Chet Baker's tune, "Everything Happens to Me." Life, in all its multifaceted glory, is indeed hard.

Juggling the roles of a father, husband, entrepreneur, and musician, I'm constantly navigating the intricate web of familial relationships and personal responsibilities. It's a journey filled with every conceivable emotion, underscored by recent family losses. Two deaths within 24 hours have cast a shadow of grief, particularly affecting my mother, who is still grappling with the loss of her own mother just over a year ago. These moments of sorrow are a stark reminder of our shared vulnerability and the inevitable cycle of life.

Among those we've lost is my Aunt Ruth, a remarkable woman who lived a full 92 years. Her life was a tapestry of resilience, wisdom, and unwavering strength. As a young girl growing up in the Jim Crow South, she faced unimaginable challenges with grace and fortitude. Despite the societal constraints of her time, she carved out a life of dignity and purpose. Her stories were not just tales of the past but lessons in perseverance and hope.

Aunt Ruth played an instrumental role in helping me piece together our family tree. Her memory was a living archive of our lineage, stretching back generations. She remembered names, dates, and places with astonishing clarity, weaving together the threads of our ancestry with each story she shared. Her insights were invaluable, helping me connect the dots of our family's journey through history.

I recall a particularly enlightening conversation about segregation and the civil rights movement. As I spoke of the end of slavery in 1863, she listened intently, only to later remark, "You know, baby, for us, slavery never ended. They didn’t treat us any different." Her words struck me profoundly, offering a glimpse into the realities of the Jim Crow South from someone who endured it firsthand.

Aunt Ruth's resilience and strength, like that of many in her generation, laid the foundation for the opportunities I have today. Her stories, her lessons, and even her biscuit recipe are cherished memories that I hold close. In her later years, without children of her own, she relied on our extended family. The last time I saw her, though aged and weary, her spirit remained undiminished, her mind sharp. I find comfort in knowing she's now at peace, reunited with loved ones.

As we navigate the full circle of life, it's important to remember the strength and sacrifices of those who came before us. Their journeys shape our own, offering lessons and legacies that endure.

I hope this story of my aunt warms your heart. May you find strength in your journeys and joy in the memories you create.



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