Right after I got back to Albany, after my mother’s funeral in February 2011 in Charlotte, NC, I attended the church service of my current congregation. It was Black History Month, and I had helped organize the events but did not participate much in them. I’m standing in the congregation, rather than singing in the choir when we got to do Lift Every Voice and Sing.
I’m singing it, as I’ve done dozens of times in the past. We get to the lyrics:
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
And I start sobbing uncontrollably. Don’t know if anyone, except The Wife, noticed, but I was unable to sing anymore.
I’m reminded of this because it’s always the last song we perform at my church in Black History Month, and I am still unable to get through the song without crying at some point, and that had not been an issue before 2011. I think it’s that “adult orphan” thing, that my parents are gone and have joined my ancestors, that there is no one else in an earlier generation in my lineage – my parents were both only children – and somehow I’ve become the eldest member of my tiny little tribe on earth, the children and grandchildren of Les and Trudy Green, who were married March 12, 1950, in Binghamton, NY.
LISTEN to Lift Every Voice and Sing.