Barefoot and Happy


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Barefoot and Happy

 

 

 

 

 

At the beginning of the year many people start to reflect on what happened to them over the last year and what personal changes they want to make. I find it hard to make changes if you don’t know who you are, where you came from and where you are going.

 

The highlight of my trips to Detroit are my days spent with my 97-year-old Granny. The wisdom and humor just flow from her. I was looking on a bookshelf and saw this picture. When I asked Granny to tell me more about the man in the picture, her eyes lit up and with an endearing voice and her southern drawl, she said, “Oh that’s my Paw Paw”. His name was William Brock Sr. born in Clarendon County, SC on February 9, 1890.

 

I quickly nestled myself into the couch because I knew this was going to be another one of Granny’s good stories, a part of me, a part of my legacy. Granny started with, “my Pa Pa was a quiet man, he didn’t say much but when he did, we listened because he wasn’t going to repeat himself. He was a hard worker, who raised 10 children as a sharecropper”.

 

Granny said “I never knew his parents, Alex and Anna (whom Granny was named after). I hear they worked for a Jewish family named Bud and Sally Draggus. Anna died while giving birth to William. Sally had a 3-month-old and she was able to breastfeed William and raised him as her son. He was said to be 1/2 Black and Indian (from the Blackfoot Indian tribe)”.

 

Just like William is in the picture, Granny said “Pa Pa walked barefoot everywhere he went”. He never cared about what others thought of him, he preferred to walk barefoot because that is what felt best and made him happy.  Another family member shared that although he didn’t wear shoes for much of his life, with his slender build when he did dress up, he was sharp as a tack, cleaner than most guys in the county. It was said that many of the men wore $5 shoes, but he wore $25 shoes. He believed in buying quality over quantity so that they would last a long time.

 

Granny said “my Pa Pa had a favorite coffee mug, made of tin. He would walk to work barefoot every day, sipping on his coffee and at a certain point along the way he would leave his mug next to the same bush”. She said “everyone in town knew that was her Pa Pa’s mug and never bothered with it. On his way home from a long day of working in the fields he would pick up the mug and head back home”. On his arrival, he would retreat to the front porch and sit quietly for hours.

 

Pa Pa was an avid baseball fan, if he wasn’t on the porch, he was in the house listening to the baseball game on the radio. By just hearing the game, he could tell you where everyone was positioned on the field. He loved the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson was his favorite player. He once traveled with his shoe’s tied together and thrown over his shoulder, to Baltimore, to see a game in person with his oldest son Bubba, his nephew drove them. He lived to be 80 years young.

 

As I listened with not only my ears but my heart, I could feel the love my Granny had for her “Paw Paw”. And the pride she had in her upbringing. I started to think you never know who you are until you know where you came from.

 

What I learned about myself listening to my Granny.

 

  1. I am tough as the soles on my great-grandfather’s bare feet.
  2. I am consistent and loyal as his coffee mug.
  3. I live life to please me, not how people think of me.
  4. I work hard and clean up well.
  5. Longevity runs in my blood.
  6. I am proud to walk in the footsteps of my ancestors barefoot or with high priced shoes, I will represent my legacy well.


    Speak to your elders, learn about where you came from, discover who you are and where you are headed. No Mess!


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