When I think of my family and how we operate—what they mean to me—‘unit’ is the best way to describe it. There are many of us, but we move as one to be there for each other. My family unit has seen me through every chapter of my life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having their unwavering love and support has been one of the secrets to my success. The richness they add to my life is something that money could never buy.
The deep roots of my family’s legacy date back as far as I can remember, and the consistency and presence of my family are cornerstones of who I am. I was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. My immediate family consisted of my mother, father, brother, and my sister. My dad was my mom’s first boyfriend, and my parents have been married for over 60 years. Mom and Dad exemplify what it means to commit and weather life’s storms together.
My father built the house that we grew up in, and my parents still live in that home. There is something deeply symbolic and meaningful about the fact that my father built the very walls that house our childhood memories. In creating a home for us, my father literally built our family legacy with his bare hands. My dad is one of five children; he and his brothers, Uncle Raymond and Uncle Willie, built the home. My Uncle Willie lived across the street. Decades later, my dad and uncle are still neighbors!
Having extended family so close felt like having an extra set of eyes to help keep us out of trouble—and an extra set of arms to embrace and love on us. Their proximity was such a blessing to us growing up; they really were—and still are—our village. For example, every year my aunt and uncle give me money for my birthday, and they have done so for as long as I can remember. On my sixteenth birthday, they gave me $16. On my seventeenth birthday, they gave me $17. I won’t say how much they gave me this year, but it’s the sweetest tradition that makes me smile and warms my heart. It’s those little things that serve as a perfect example of the many ways my family fosters a culture of showing up for each other.
Now that my father and three of his siblings are in their 80’s, and one in his late 60’s, I hold our family memories and traditions nearer and dearer to my heart. Every family dinner, vacation and holiday are forever etched in my memory. Raising my children also has deepened my appreciation for those memories and the strong family ties that bind us. I have put great effort and energy into ensuring that my children have the same closeness with my siblings, and my family members put the same effort and energy into maintaining close relationships with my children as well. For example, my parents and siblings came to the hospital when all my children were born. I want to continue that legacy and tradition of showing up for each other with my children and grandchildren.
One of my favorite things about my dad and his siblings is that at various times throughout the years they have worked together in our family business. My dad started his construction company 54 years ago, and for a period of time, my uncles—and one of my aunts—worked there. Today, nearly six decades later, my siblings still work in the business. Working in the family business together, my dad, aunt, and uncles showed us the power of family unity. They taught us that we can accomplish more together than we can on our own. They also taught us the importance of saving, investing, and owning real estate. By working together, they showed us that maintaining our close bond, through thick and thin, would continue our family legacy long after they were gone.
As we get older, we develop a greater appreciation for family. We start to understand the lessons they taught and realize the reasons behind some of their words and actions; we grow to appreciate their sacrifices. Most importantly, we feel more love and compassion for them as we age. Unfortunately, it often isn’t until elders get up in age that we start to realize just how short and precious life is. Be sure to give your loved ones their flowers now, while they can still smell them.
What lessons and legacies are evident in your family?
What traditions would you like to start or continue with your loved ones?Leave a Comment