I often think about the moment that led to my freedom.
I had just got in the tub after seeing the look of the inevitable on my aunt’s face. My grandmother, a strong lady who had cared for her own 8 children and their offspring for nearly 60 years, was succumbing to cancer.
Generations, which had been camped out beside her for days, had just left to go to sleep when it happened. I thought she would be there when I stepped out of my bath. Minutes later I heard my grandfather wake my uncle with the news.
I loved my grandmother even though I thought she was harsher on me than her other grandchildren. I often tell friends stories of getting the switch or being made to sweep off the porch one Christmas when everyone else was opening presents. Yet, I flourished when I was around her. I learned how to cook from watching her. I learned the true meaning of working hard and having it pay off by watching her go from cleaning houses to owning her home and property.
The small Mississippi church was packed by those who she had impacted. As the minister delivered her powerful tribute to my grandmother entitled “press on,” the chains that bound me snapped and freedom was mine.
After changing jobs and getting rejected in so many situations I had gotten to a point where I had settled. I had found comfort in the fact that I would probably stay in my small town forever, never live up to my potential and never be good enough for my daughter or anyone else who cared about me.
But sitting in the funeral, my grandmothers words continued to echo in my head: press on, Press On, PRESS ON – it was an anthem, a comfort, a challenge!
So many times, women forgo their dreams and grow complacent in what life has dealt them. When I had my first child, people saddled me with guilt so much over returning to school that I eventually starting skipping class. I began not to care or be motivated because I felt like a failure on multiple levels.
I got my dream job working at a newspaper but never tried to going any further in the industry because of the fear of leaving the comfort zone of my family. I was bullied into believing that I could not survive without them. Years and opportunities came and went while the cold metal of my chains became heavier. I ached for freedom and in the back of my mind I knew there was more out there for me. I just never had the courage to break free of my bondage – until I heard the minister’s challenge.
His words echoed in my head that day as I began to set the wheels in motion to change my life. I returned calls and followed up on job leads. I stopped be fearful of relationships and fearful of failure and just started to leap in and press on regardless of what may happen.
For the first time in my life I felt like I had power. Although my grandmother has been gone for 8 years, I miss her immensely and feel deeply indebted to her. Reflecting on her life, gave me the courage to break my chains and find freedom. It is the truest freedom and the best feeling in the world.