This is not a eulogy, but a biographical accountancy of a life that’s very much still in progress. How, you may ask did this person contribute to Black History? Are they archived in any of the history books, are they well known, what did they invent? Perhaps not in the worlds conventional definition of the word, would it qualify them, however, they are still worthy and deserving of being lauded, and given flowers while they are still alive. Nevertheless, they certainly are the epitome of what Black History represents for my family. The person of whom I speak of is my mother, Geneva C. House. She was born the oldest of twin girls on March 5th 1921, but the youngest of four other siblings. From conception the odds of survival were against her, however God had plans that she didn’t know or could ever understand for her simple life. As she often stated, she wasn’t the favorite of the twin daughters, but still nurtured by her father. It was his guidance that instilled in my mother, that besides the basic necessities’ of life, much more is required. Where do I even begin to tell of a woman, whom born against all odds, but by the grace of God survived in a world filled with obstacles and adversity?
Looking back, I didn’t understand as a child, but having children and grandchildren of my own, I now realize the importance of what being faithful and making sacrifices means.
In retrospect, my mother grew up in a small rural farming township in Cedartown Georgia, during the early 1900’s. As you can imagine it wasn’t an easy life, growing up poor dealing with racism, poverty, and every other stumbling block thrown into the mixture. Despite these insurmountable impossibilities, she learned that through God all things are possible. That’s what she taught us, though unknowingly.
By the 1950’s my parents had a total of six children and put Georgia, far behind them,
as the farming community they lived in started to depend less on Agriculture, making it hard to raise a family without provisions. Chattanooga Tennessee was their mapped destination, yet they didn’t know much about it, except it afforded them the hope of having a better life.
For a while, life was good, however, by the 60’s my parents separated and my mother was forced to raise now eleven children in a single family home. She didn’t work outside the home, and still depended on my father for support. With so many mouths to feed, there were many nights we went to bed, hungry, thirsty, and cold, as our only source of heat was from a wood/coal burning fireplace that sometimes served a dual purpose, becoming a makeshift stove. Even during those hard times, mama didn’t give up hope, as she often told us, and I quote “Sugar, don’t depend on man but God.”
I thought, wow how could she say that when we don’t have anything. One time dividing two for a penny cookies between all us kids leaving nothing for herself but crumbs, that she licked from her fingers.
Though faithfully she read the bible and every night at the foot of the bed, I shared with her and my sister, I’d see her praying and would fall asleep most nights watching her while she prayed for only God knew what. Yet it seemed as though her prayers went unanswered, as every day was a continuation of the same.
Although those years were lean, there were times when we had an abundance of everything. It was because my mother never gave up on God, though we didn’t attend any local church, but she served Him faithfully and taught us to do the same. We moved around a lot as children, sometimes leaving furniture behind, as material things weren’t important to her. In spite of that, my mother taught us the importance of stability and family values. She’d often use the illustration of the mother fox, how she’d usher her young into its den and then follow them inside, blocking the intrusion of anything that may bring harm, knowing she was the first line of defense. Just as the fox considered family to be a priority, so did my mother. She taught us that we are our brothers’ keeper. That cohesiveness bonded us a family. Not only this, but she demonstrated the belief of what God said, “Sparing of the rod, and spoiling the child, as she was always a strong disciplinarian. Her methods proved that peace out of confusion was achievable. It also taught us to respect authority, making us accountable for our actions. It was how she demonstrated her love for us, in her elementary way. Because she was a woman of action if not illustration, finding it easier to show us how to live and be civil minded God-fearing individuals rather than lecture us only. Unquestionably, my mother did a lifetime of painstakingly talking to every one of us, giving us poignant direction. There were times when I’d sit at her feet, listening while she told us of a funny story from childhood or a chilling ghost story, that made us too scared to leave the room by ourselves. Other times I’d watch her as she cooked a tasty meal, stitched a quilt made from spare material, or fill in images she drew herself embroidering them. It was God’s gift of creativity that he’d given to her as alleviation from the everyday stress of life.
In many ways, we all share characteristics of our mother. Some God given and others we learned along the way. But the ones I’m most proud of is her tenacity to survive. Just as she believed, God was always with her, she exhibited that strength in her character to unselfishly never consider walking away from so many responsibilities. Although I’m sure that there were times when she wanted to give in to defeat. But failure wasn’t an option for my mother when it came to being a parent. In that, same giving spirit, her love, and consideration she also displayed to others, willing to give, of herself materially as well, although sometimes it’d be her last.
She is the forerunner, the matriarch of our family, through her teachings, words of encouragement, support she’s taught us the importance of being earnest. My mother substituted motherhood over education, but she was mindful not to allow it to be an obstacle for her children. There were no excuses when it came to going to school, she saw to it that every day you were out the door but more importantly that you learned something and could apply it to our daily lives.
In no way were we like the Cosby show, the television version of black family life. Though, for some it wasn’t a very realistic scenario, but I can relate to the portrait of what was being shown in this program.
Now the disease of Alzheimer’s has racked her mind and body, dimming the light of whom she once was mentally and physically, however, through Gods grace, it has not robbed her knowledge of who He is, or her spirit that still shines bright.
What is black history? Some may say, it’s an accounting of historical figures who contributed, whether through education, invention, industry, government. That is correct; however, my mother is still a viable asset to us and will be counted as one of the great achievers of all times. Despite the fact, she has not obtained any written degrees, or patents. She is not the CEO of some great corporation or hold rank in any government office. Undeniably, these are all great accolades; however, none surpasses the love and respect, the wisdom, and love she’s passed on to others. In a sense, she is the epitome of all those things, as an educator she has taught us what it means to display an upright character and humility for others. As an inventor, she gave new meaning to the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention:” In industry, she encouraged us to use the talents of which we are blessed. Finally yet importantly, it was her example as a leader that taught us that no matter what, we should never give up. No matter what obstacles block our paths, whatever discrimination we may face, always love others as God loves us. This is her great contribution. As the misfortune of circumstance should never disable our progress, or belay our hopes and dreams to do or become whatever we aspire to be. Because of Christ, we’ve been delivered. My mother knows and always knew, Jesus is the great equalizer. Through the trust and belief of faith, we can do all things, making the insurmountable, conquerable, the impossibilities, possible and the hopeless, inspired.
Causes Vivian Moore Supports