This weekend I was reminded of what my southern heritage truly was, and that is family. It’s been years since we’ve all managed to get together. There are a lot of us, and life gets in the way. I let it get in the way for me. I moved out almost three years ago and have been thoroughly engaged in all sorts of matters, sometimes losing sight of what really matters.
My grandparents had six children, the youngest of which was my father. Since the beautiful union of Alice and H.P Grovenstein (now up into their 90’s) the family has grown like my Pop’s vegtables. I have nine cousins. My older brother was the baby in the bunch, with my little sister and me trailing seven years after him. So all my cousins are grown and married with beautiful children—20 of them, including my own neice, plus a new addition in a few weeks.
Like I mentioned, it’s been years since we’ve all had the chance to get together. With the exception of a cousin and cousin-in-law, the Grovensteins were finally reunited. On Friday we packed into my grandparent’s little white house and spent the evening hugging and catching up with everybody and eating speghetti and playing with the kids outside.
They all wanted to know what I was up to these days; these days I’ve got this idea in my head to go to graduate school and get my MFA in Creative Writing. But it didn’t sound crazy to any of them like it does to me. They were all incredibly supportive of my plan, which does more for a writer than they know.
And I remember sitting in my grandparent’s house, watching the greatgrands sit where we had sat, and I was sitting where my parents had sat. And when I saw the look on my grandparent’s face, that’s when I knew that I was so proud to be apart of the family that I am apart of.
The next day we went to the retreat center down the road where my Salzburger ancestors built their colony; their fingerprints line the bricks of the old Luthern church.
In the news today there is a lot going on about pride. I generally refrain from voicing my opinion, especially on social media, but my prementioned plans push me to do so in the best way I know how. I check my newsfeed, I see good ideas, but these ideas are being carted by bandwagons. The mob mentality is cheapening our opinions. We want to be heard, but nobody can distinguish noise.
I am only one voice. I am a southern voice, a white, female, southern voice, so maybe a voice of little consequence, but it’s the only one I have.
I am proud of my southern heritage. To say that right now may cast me in a bad light, but I challenge you to continue reading before you come to a conclusion. I cannot cut off my roots, to do so would be to die. I am what I am. I am not proud of all the decisions and mistakes that my ancestors have made. Racism has been a weed we’ve allowed to grow and infect us, and for that I apologize. To make excuses, to be excessively lengthy on this, would be an insult. We all know what is to be said. It has been said over and over again. The only thing I can say is that I won’t allow weeds in my garden and that my children will not be racist.
There is a call to set down the Confederate flag. To some, it is a symbol of racism, to others, their southern pride. We have a lot more to be proud of than that, I believe, and if anything of mine brings that much offense, it isn’t worth keeping. Our mamas taught us to be polite and courteous.
There’s a painting in my grandparent’s house of their little white trailer. That’s all the symbolism I need.