I was a 25 years old newlywed, when my world shattered and I felt as though wisdom had slipped through my very fingers. Countless stories lost, a gigantic list of things I thought I had all the time in the world to learn. For example, how to always say the right thing, at the right time. How to find enough balance so that I can accomplish all my goals, while being the best wife and mother all at the same time, without breaking a sweat. Questions I would never have the opportunity to hear her answer.
Her name was Mrs Josephine Rolands, she was my mother and the source of such wisdom. Her laugh was melodic, her face was sunshine itself; she was the epitome of calm, grace and elegance. She was stern but it was all done in love. She was a mother of three, a wife of one, a lawyer, university professor, a mentor to many and so much more. She was anything you needed her to be at the time you needed it, whether a councillor, a teacher or simply a listening ear.
She was tough on us at times, challenged us at every turn and although we didn’t like it at the time, I can see now that it brought out the best in us. You always had to be ready, that was one of the things I hated but loved and miss about her, she kept everyone on their toes.
At her funeral there were so many people that came to show their love and support, the 400 seater church was full to capacity. There were many who stood up and spoke of the amazing woman she was, and the significant impact she had made in their lives. Some said she funded their education, others she mentored and some said she was like a mother to them. My issue was I didn’t recognise 70% of the people who spoke.
My mum and I were really close, which left me wondering why I didn’t know about all of these people whose life she had changed and transformed. It dawned on me that there was so much I didn’t know about this woman I was so familiar with.
Then something wonderful happened, my father gave me a book called ‘The Rhythm of Sunday Morning Song’. He didn’t say much other than I should read it. His timing seemed a bit odd considering mum had just died, so naturally I paid minimal attention to it, then just put it on my bookshelf and forgot about it amidst all the preparations.
After a few months dad asked me if I had read it, I just couldn’t understand why my reading this book was so important to him. Therefore, the third time he mentioned it to me, I decided to take an interest. When I got home that afternoon I went to my shelf, took the book out and read the author’s name, the small print read ‘J. Bridges’. There was something familiar about the name but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, until I started reading the book and by the fourth chapter I was in tears. I read the entire book in a day.
It was about my mother, she had written a book about her life. It spoke of her childhood, growing up in the Caribbean and the culture shock that came when she moved to England. She recognised the value of education and it’s ability to get a better quality of life for her and her family, so she worked hard to put herself through college because her family couldn’t afford to. She did the same thing and became the first in her family to graduate from university.
Throughout her story she kept referring to ‘The rhythm of Sunday Morning Song’, choruses heard through the streets as ladies in their colorful outfits and men in their sunday best made their way into church buildings. Her faith in God kept her through some pretty difficult times; for example when her mother died suddenly aged 55 and her best friend dying from a rare form of bone disease shortly after. However, through her mother dying she was able to reconnect with her then, estranged father who became one of her greatest cheerleaders and best friend as they reconciled.
That book was published when she was 28 years old. Her story after the book is as follows; she met and married John Rolands and had three children. She practiced law for a number of years, she also became a campaigner for social justice and women’s rights. Additionally, she began to teach law at the University of Trenton upon Byre. Then she went into semi-retirement (she didn’t really know the meaning of retirement if you ask me) from practicing law at the tender age of 50 years old.
Which leads me to my point… We should all be writers, telling our own life story.
The fact of the matter is, not everyone will be ‘famous’ or ‘well known’ to the entire world, however, we all leave a legacy behind and that legacy is important to the people in your world. Are we being intentional enough about that legacy?
I believe that everyone who comes into this world has the desire to leave their mark, whether in the end that mark is good or bad. I believe that in our efforts to make that significant change in the world, we need to take the time out to journal our experiences, our victories and the important losses we face.
You don’t have to be a movie star, a world renowned surgeon or a humanitarian saving lives all around the world for your story to matter. You could be a mother of one, a fireman or a chip shop owner. If you’ve lived life, you have a story to tell that your world needs to hear.
The question is, what do you want people to know about you? Don’t let your stories die with you. You never know whose life your story might change for the better.