“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford

thinking back

 

“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford

The title of this entry was inspired by a 90’s hip hop classic from Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth.  The thought behind it are feelings of love, loss, gratitude and pride mixed with a little bit of selfishness and some sadness sprinkled in too.  We’ve all lost loved ones at some point in our lives and admittedly…it hurts.

I remember watching my grandmother beam with pride and joy.  She loved family; her mother, sisters, aunts & uncles, daughters and most assuredly her grandson(s).  Holiday gatherings and family get-togethers meant everything to her.  I would marvel at the outpouring of love displayed at these functions.  It’s difficult to put it into words.  It was just simply incredible.  Boy…I really miss those days.  And then…the unthinkable began to happen.  We started losing our older relatives slowly but surely.

Now we’re the grandparents, the great aunts & uncles, the matriarchs & patriarchs of our families.  But times have changed.  Things are very different now.  The world just ain’t the same anymore.  Don’t get me wrong…we’re all blessed to still be among the living, but it’s sad watching the day to day occurrences in these dark and scary times we live in.  We gotta stay prayed up and watch out for one another.  Hopefully better days are ahead.  As the song says, “A change gon come.”  We need a change…BAD!!!

Thinking back on how my grandmother loved on all of us…that smile, those hugs and the loving, nurturing words of encouragement…makes me wonder if she missed her parents, grandparents, great aunts & uncles as much as I miss her?  If she did, she didn’t show it.  But gauging the void in my heart…how could she not?  Her focus was obviously on everyone else’s happiness.

I still smile when I think of my grandmother’s strength and courage.  The way she held everything together was nothing less than amazing.  Her memory still lives on today.  Mainly because my mother stepped up in her absence and filled those shoes remarkably.  I’m just expressing myself, but I know there are others with similar stories, right?  The message today is simple.  It’s for our loved ones who have gone on to glory…to continue watching over us while we reminisce over you.

Butch

Let’s Start Anew by Butch Ford

start anew photo
Let’s Start Anew by Butch Ford

As we come to the close of another decade, there are some things I’d like to see change within our community.  As a people, we have really lowered our standards and expectations of one another.  And as a society we have come to be too accepting of mediocrity.

Professional sports are all about marketing dollars and network ratings.  Gone are the days of good sportsmanship and integrity.  It’s so much pressure on these kids nowadays.  Bring back the days of playing for the love of the game(s).  

Social Media has taken over as our main source of communication.  There’s no one-on-one interaction anymore.  Everything’s so impersonal.  There was a time when we had to talk to one another, meet up, ask someone out or just getting to know people.  Now everyone’s just typing away.

Which brings me to the education system, or the lack of emphasis placed on learning.  This one’s self-explanatory, but perplexes me nonetheless.  Generations past took pride in being the best at tasks at hand.  Millennials couldn’t care less.  They just want, want, want.  No concept of working to achieve goals.

And last…the lack of family dynamics.  We once ate meals together, taught each other hobbies & skills, supported the dreams of our relatives, asked how each other’s day was, etc.  Now everyone’s out for themselves.  Fathers are absent from their children’s lives, which forces the mothers to carry the load.  But they must be mature and responsible enough to take on the duties of parenthood.  Again…we must do better.  

We need to own our own businesses, invest in our communities, teach our youth and overall be better as African Americans.  We owe it to ourselves and to our future.   WE NEED CHANGE…LIKE YESTERDAY!

               

                                Butch Ford

Reflections of the Dining Room Table at My Grandparent’s House by Chellyz View

dining table

Reflections of the Dining Room Table at My Grandparent’s House by Chellyz View

I was scrolling through the gallery in my cellphone and the picture featured above held my attention.  A table.  Not just an ordinary table, but a decorated table that reminded me of one of my maternal grandmother’s tablecloths.  Some childhood memories are clear like looking through a freshly wiped window cleaned with window cleaner.  I accurately see the reflection of dinner time at my grandparent’s home.

My grandparents resided in a small modest home with a round dinner table. Dinner at my grandparent’s house was a ritual.  The main course of the day was done by 4:00 p.m.  My grandmother enjoyed working for a brief time, but life circumstances summoned her to become at stay home mom.  I admired my grandma for watching over me while my mom worked.  I am displeased with myself because I didn’t pay attention to her nor my paternal grandmother’s recipes made from scratch.  I felt cooking wasn’t my calling.  Therefore, cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches became my specialty as I grew older, but that’s another story.

Yes, the dinner table at my grandparent’s house was sacred.  Hands washed.   Fresh produce.  Homemade Ingredients.  Life was at a slower pace back in the day.  At least that is how I envision grandma’s kitchen.  I can recall the aroma of greens, black eyed peas, the snapping of peas or green beans, and sweet potato pies (no strings found).  Watching flour and yeast being rolled by hand with a wooden rolling pin then left to rise a few times before being baked in the oven left me amazed.  The scent of roast beef or a whole chicken that appeared to be roasted without the rotisserie machine contraption lingered in the air.  This was a time before anyone thought or knew the definition or lifestyle of veganism or gluten free.

The most important part of the dinner routine was setting the table.  My grandpa would become irritated at times because I would start singing at the table.  I didn’t sing on key, but I always had a song.  I don’t know if this was a habit because the food was so good or I just felt like hearing him telling me to stop all that sangin’.  I knew we were to sit down at the table together.  No eating in the room.  No preparing separate meals.  Whatever was cooked you ate or you starved. Currently, I don’t know if that would be considered unfair treatment to children or not.  Paper plates, and plastic ware was not allowed at the dinner table.  Cups made of foam, oh no!  My grandma said she felt like she was about to choke when she drank out of a foam cup.  When she did finally break down and accepted paper or plastic goods at her dinner table, you were only to purchase Chinet or some other brand that resembled resilience.

Today, I feel guilty as a mother.  Don’t get me wrong, my children don’t starve.  However, they didn’t experience the same dinner time rituals I did as a child.   I am thankful their dad has mad skills in the kitchen.  So, they always get excited when dad prepares the meals.  We don’t always consume our dinner at the same time due to work schedules or extracurricular activities.  I am known for stocking up on paper and plastic goods because it’s an “easy” way of life in my home, but I know it isn’t good for the environment.  There are times when we have carry-out meals a little too often or the frozen section in the market conveniently saves time instead of having everything freshly prepared.  Electronics such as tablets and phones are supposed to be banned at the table when we have an opportunity to dine together.  The children ask, “Why?”  I respond, “Cause my grandpa said no singing at the table.”  Also, I tell them it’s important because it gives us a chance to talk about life.

A few years ago, before I realized the impact dementia was having on my grandmother we got into an argument.  It was about the details of the dining room table.  I wasn’t folding the dinner napkins correctly.  Grandma exploded and I left the room muttering, “I ain’t having another holiday dinner over here.”  I think she felt it would be one of her last holidays preparing a home cooked meal at the sacred dinner table.  A sadness overwhelmed me because I knew grandma was changing and this portion of our lives wouldn’t be the same.  Now, she enjoys the meals my mom and aunt prepare for her. She always sit by the window in her comfy chair.  Her dinner table consists of a small foldable wooden dinner tray.  Of course, she asks what time it is throughout the day, because she never wants to eat dinner after 5:00 p.m.

As families we need to find time to gather more at the table.  Even if time doesn’t allow for it to occur every day, we should commit to making the time at least three to four times a week.  It might not even be dinner, but maybe you could enjoy preparing an evening snack or dessert together.  Have at least one “good tablecloth” and a set of nice dinnerware you can find on sale.  Maybe even splurge on the fancy paper ware but remember to recycle.  LOL, I even invite singing to the dinner table as long it is a song, we can all sing and is appropriate.  Yes, our schedules can be rigorous at times.  Yes, we often find ourselves overworked and trying to manage the bills.  However, try to find a few moments to create some reflective and comforting memories at the dinner table .

MOTOWN: Yo Town & My Town by Butch Ford

motown

MOTOWN: Yo Town & My Town by Butch Ford

What is Motown?  Now that’s a loaded question.  And we’d probably hear several dozen responses of varied degree, I suppose.  Some may agree that it’s a majestic little white house at 2648 W. Grand Blvd. on the west side of Detroit.  While others may take the “hit making factory” approach.  If you answered either way, you’re definitely not wrong.  But that’s not the narrative this time.  The journey for me started towards the latter part of the 60’s, continued throughout the 70’s and was nurtured in the 80’s.  These were times where society put emphasis on family, love and unity.  Churches, schools, neighborhoods and community centers all had a hand in our upbringing.

“It takes a village” right?  Maybe it was a naive perspective, on my part?  Or was I just looking at things through rose colored lenses?  But something happened.  In fact…several things happened.  We could talk for hours about the collapse of the African American family, the failed education system, or the lack of pride and self-respect as “a people.”  But I’m more interested in solutions to these problems.  What can we do to right these wrongs?  Where do we even begin?

I don’t like to speak on politics or religion publicly.  My grandmother Mattie Mae taught me that at a young age.  But something has to change.  And I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself here.  It’s going to take a village AGAIN…if we want our pride back.  If we want our self-respect back.  If we want our dignity back.  And if we want our Motown back!  Let’s make a change my people!