Day 28: Legacy (Ode to My Mama Katt: Ms. Kathryn Hall Trujillo)
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Psalm 78:4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
Psalm 145:4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
Song: The Blessing
Happy Twenty-Eighth Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today, we give thanks for legacy because it is important for one generation or generations to pass on their knowledge, beliefs, and truths to sustain the next generation. The bible clearly states that there is nothing new under the sun. If we understand this concept, we’d realize that we don’t always have to “invent the wheel.” We can develop and mature, learning from the mistakes of others, avoiding so many obstacles and cyclic patterns of dysfunction made by our ancestors, and building on the foundations that have been set before us.
Last night I attended my mother/mentor’s, Ms. Kathryn Hall-Trujillo’s, retirement celebration. It was a monumental moment because all of us knew that this time was the first time that she could really have a permanent retirement. She had tried successfully three times and each time botched because the new director had some disastrous personal circumstance happen shortly after her induction. Mama Katt, as most folks call her, spent 30+ years of her life on the frontlines of the maternal-infant health struggle creating local, national, and international programs to fight for black women and children to survive during and after the birthing process. I met Mama Katt over 20+ years ago and almost instantly the legacy seed she planted in me literally saved my life. She gave me a life line that stopped me from having a mental breakdown, she modeled for me the concept that you don’t have to stay or end up where you find yourself now, and as she always tells me “life doesn’t even begin until your 50 years old.” She has unconditionally loved, encouraged, and supported the blossoming woman, activist, advocate, prayer warrior and mother I am and teaches me how to pour out into the next generations.
As I was hearing the word “legacy” used in her celebration and throughout the last two years as my organization, the Birthing Project USA: the Underground Railroad for Life, has initiated a Kathyrn Hall-Trujillo Legacy Fund to continue the thirty plus years of her work, I’ve been thinking about my “legacy” and what I have left and am leaving to my daughter and the generations after her. It has been important to me to break the generational patterns of dysfunction in my family and ensure that my daughter will not live in a dysfunctional legacy but have a legacy and inheritance of blessings and favor. Among the things that I want Delilah Christina to experience is love (the kind that wasn’t abusive or conditional), financial freedom, healing in her mind, higher education, living out ALL of her dreams and goals, what healthy male-female friendships and partnerships looked like, marriage, and having children within the covenant of a healthy marriage.
A little over nineteen years ago, I birthed a beautiful baby girl, Delilah Christina. Her birth, was an easy, sweat-less vaginal birth that was unlike many of the “painful, horrible” birthing experiences about which I have heard. (Thanks to God!) I remember arriving at JFK airport when I was 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant telling her, “we’re home now. If you want to come, you can. It’s probably better now so that I can spend more time with you.” She actually came the next day, exactly at 40 weeks.
The first time I held her in my arms, the world, for me, stood still. I remember her opening her eyes to look at me. She stared directly into my eyes, as I spoke these words: “welcome to the world. Thank you for choosing me to be your mother. I promise to love you with all that I am. I’m not perfect, but I will always do my best to show up better for you and in a different way than what I know and was taught.” I have no idea if my baby girl understood the magnitude of what I was trying to tell her at that moment but, I prayed that those words would engulf her soul and let her know that I was going to always fight for her to have a better life, feel loved and supported, and build on all of what I had already learned. At that moment, I wanted my love to look different for her; I wanted it to be unconditional. For the last nineteen years, through hell and high water (often feeling like I’m almost drowning in it), my commitment to love her, in even the most difficult of circumstances, has been consistent. Through separations, sicknesses, minimally-verbal communication, precoz puberty, diagnosis of autism and epilepsy, countless emergency room visits, diet changes, questionable aggressive behaviors, frustrations, clogged toilets, and pure, stubborn will, my “unconditional” love has not changed. Though I have questioned many times if I had the ability and capacity to give her all that she needs, I’ve never walked away and have learned to love differently, yet still unconditionally.
According to Webster dictionary, a legacy is a financial gift left to someone or is something transmitted by or received from an ancestor, predecessor or from the past. Because I grew up in abject poverty, the first legacy I chose to leave my baby girl was a better literacy of financial wealth. I decided to set plans in place for my baby girl to be financially okay if something happened to me. I wanted to also make sure that she would be financial okay to navigate higher education as well. Thus, a few years after she was born, her college fund was implemented. Concerning financial wealth, I wanted my daughter to learn and understand the principles of getting wealth, according to biblical standards. Over the years, within her cognitive capacity, I have also taught her the importance of giving and being a blessing to others. It was important for me to teach her that, although she is an only child, there was no place for selfishness or stinginess in her life. She should and must know how to give freely. She has always given tithes and offering to our church from any money she receives; as a child, she had to choose one of her gifts to give away during the Christmas holiday season.
Another legacy that I decided to leave with my daughter is her spiritual belief system. As a fetus, developing in my womb, God spoke clearly about who she is and what His ordained purpose in the earth was for her. Upon receiving the Lord’s words, I ensured that she would walk into that purpose while she was in my womb. I began to read the Bible to her every day and we listened to music for at least 30 minutes while she was in my womb. After her birth, we continued to read the word and listen to worship but, then, added prayer and declarations of the word of God. Even with autism, as doctors said she would “never” be able to learn, she learned that she could do all things through Christ Jesus and was encouraged to do them. (She learned gymnastics, to draw, swim, sing and play piano.) She learned how to recite the “our father” prayer and call on God and the name of Jesus. She knows how to posture herself for prayer and worship and how to tap into a dimension of the Spirit to get healed and see God. (I shared with you her testimony on Christmas day of last year.)
The other important legacy that I have given my daughter is strong support networks. For her entire life, I have surrounded Delilah with people, not necessarily her biological family, that have poured into her life, have unconditionally loved and supported her, and have drawn out her potential. These people, who she calls godmothers, friends, teachers, aunts and uncles, have showed up for her and celebrated her, alongside of me. She knows that she can count on their consistency and reliability when she needs their support. She knows whose faces she’ll see in the crowd for every recital and show. She knows who will take her in and love on her when I get on her last nerves. She even knows who to “manipulate” to get that thing that I have already told her she couldn’t have. (SMH!)
I have to admit that many of the goals for my legacy plan are still in progress but are definitely on the right track. Thanks Mama Katt for teaching me to dream for a different legacy and how to fight to get it. I love you more than you’ll ever know.
Today as we give thanks for legacy, I invite you to donate to the Ms. Kathryn Hall-Trujillo Legacy Campaign, https://www.birthingprojectusa.org/donate, which will allow for the continuing work of fighting for the safe births of colored babies (locally, nationally and internationally) and the survival of and support for their mamas. I appreciate all that you can and will give. In a few years, I look forward to a maternal-infant health program right in my ‘hood, the best place on the planet (South Bronx), that will also be part of Mama Katt’s legacy.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!