Inpower Institute Insights

To Sit Beside Our Elders

Written By: Cheeraz Gormon  |  November 1, 2019

My great-aunt Mildred Philomena Maria was born, July 23, 1931 in St. Louis, MO, and doesn’t know if she was born in a house or hospital.

On September 5, 2019, my cousins and I sat in a circle out underneath the late afternoon sun. At the head of the circle was Mildred, sharing family history and snapshots of her life, mixed with the type of jokes only one who has lived a lot of life can produce with ease, wit, and impeccable comedic timing. We listened attentively as each word, slow and deliberate, sprang from her mouth. The impromptu interview, captured by the voice note app on my phone, felt necessary, even urgent, after burying one of our dear cousins, the day before.

As the oldest living member of my maternal grandmother’s siblings, Aunt Mildred was one of the only people who can give us a more rooted account of the family history. Her memory was sharp as a tack when it came to recalling some names, events, and places, and clouded by time, distance, and not-so-fond memories when it came to others.

When asked about how she felt in the moment, being able to share these stories with us, before I could finish my question, she replied, “I’m blessed. One wishes to live to see the day of their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, you all, and I’m doing it.”While my great-aunt Mildred doesn’t know if she was born in a house or hospital, she breathed new life into each of us underneath that late afternoon sun.