By Terry Allen
She never spoke badly of anyone at all; she always would take the high road no matter what was being said about others during her inner circle talk. Yes, my Grandmother, Lucille “Big Mama” Allen, during her lifetime instilled so many lessons in all of us. This one was hard one for me to execute and she knew it. She repeatedly said find the good in all people and that would be enough! Over my lifetime I finally knew what she meant.
I stopped to observe her words in the conversation she had with her church sisters. When they ‘discovered’ information about another person she would always interject the negative comments with a “high road.” I recall one of their conversations when a member of the small community got an eviction notice on her door. One of the Church Sisters would lean back, roll her eyes and with a certain amount of authority say, “You know Sister So-and-so got an eviction notice and her husband left her over two months ago.”
All of the church sisters would go in on what they knew and you would hear one sister comment on the philandering husband. You would then hear one say he flirted with her, as if that empowered her during the gathering. The comments were never supportive! No one said “poor child” or “I feel so bad for here”. Even though they used many words from the Bible, none of them were – “Let’s pray for Sister Brown” or “I hope God intervenes with a miracle.”
Yet as I sit there following the Big Mama Rule- “Children should be seen not heard”, I heard Big Mama call out each of the other sisters with several questions: Evie can you make that peach cobbler this week for ten people? What about you Rosetta can also give us 2-3 of those special cakes? And Charlene, “can you get Joe to give us some ribs for say our entire bible group?” She begins to ask each and every one to complete a task?
Her last question was always about time. “What are you all doing Saturday at noon?” They all agreed then they asked, “Lucille what is this for?” She stood up on the porch and said, “we are going to have a picnic bake sale fundraiser for Sister Brown to pay her rent.” She reminded each church sister what was done for them, the reason it was done and how we all pitched in! She found the good in them. Big Mama made each one of them remember how they received help as well as how the church family helped them.
In closing, she then pushed them to reward others with the power to give back. FYI, she received Church Mother of the Year for three years in a row, uncontested! Big Mama, I get it now. Find the Good in Everybody. Recognize Their Soul. You Will Be Rewarded. I do it every day- do you?