Everywhere you look there are signs of summer changing to autumn. Usually, I embrace the change but this year is a bit different. It is the first time I have entered a new season without my mother. Rita Hughes Wilson passed on in August at the grand age of 80. Her passing has left an emptiness in my heart which I fill with memories – all the tools and treasures she handed me throughout our years together.
Memories of my mother are mixed with fond and important memories of her father, my grandfather. In truth, it was my grandfather, Stephen Hughes who empowered me to become who I am today. He, a man with only daughters, a 6th grade dropout, gave all of his children the gift of a college education. A gift that was extravagant at the time. But, Poppy believed in the strength of women and the importance of learning. That ideology was passed down and led to my encouragement to be whatever I wanted to be.
If not for my grandfather, perhaps my mother would not have broken from the traditional roles and learned the skills needed to be the breadwinner she was to become. Perhaps, I might have fallen prey to accept my place in life and not been driven to become a successful entrepreneur–unafraid of failure. And so, today I give thanks for both the males and the females in my family.
Family, friends and our community were such a part of my childhood that I also embraced them without thought. My mother’s love of country has led to my commitment to make a difference in the world of politics and give voice to those who either don’t have one or just haven’t found their vocal cords.
From Stephen Hughes to Rita Hughes Wilson the baton has now passed to me. I am now the matriarch of my own family and am passing on the same powerful tools and treasures to my children.
So, this year as I watch the leaves turn to shades of red, orange and yellow, I have a new understanding of this healing balance called the circle of life.