Who Am I?

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

Who Am I?

Lately, I have been thinking about my roots. No, not the ones on my head because I see JP my hair-dresser every single month, and she takes care of that. It’s more about my lineage and who came before me.

There are several TV shows that detail the past of well-known stars. The show’s researchers help them to better understand where they came from and discover their ancestors who did incredible things, from fighting in the Korean War, serving as a general in the Civil War, to being present when the Star Spangled Banner was written.

As I sit here preparing for Thanksgiving, I know without a shadow of a doubt that my ancestors had green thumbs and grew whatever they could. They understood the farm to table concept long before it was the cool thing to do. When I was eight, I visited an aunt in Connecticut, who lived on a farm. Having never been on a farm before I was amazed to learn where food came from. I remember thinking, So this is how string beans get to the plate. I was thrilled to cut them from their vines and help carry them to the table. I know it sounds silly, but I felt empowered, even at eight years old. And strangely enough, I felt like I had been there before. Even though I was born in a big city and felt like a city girl, there was a weird sense that I lived on a farm in a previous life. I still feel like that whenever I do farm interviews for my TV show.

Another thing about my family I am sure of is our shared obsession with holidays. My great-grandmother, who I knew when I was young, was said to have decorated the house with holly, greenery from the backyard, fruit and berries from her garden, and candles everywhere. She was not going to let a lack of money stop her from making the spirit bright for her ten children. My grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my sister and I are all over the top when it comes to decorating for every single holiday.

I also know my family has always loved to cook and eat. There is no place I feel more comfy and cozy than in my kitchen. Whether I’m baking cookies or roasting veggies, there is a love of it that comes from watching my grandmother cook and knowing her talents were inherited from her mother etc. I don’t believe this is just learned knowledge. Some of it is in-ATE, if you’ll excuse the silly pun.

So who do I think I am? Without sitting down and spending years on my ancestry, which I intend to do when I retire, I know for sure that my family on both sides believed in a strong family bond. They believed close friends are as important as family – being joined by heart rather than blood. And they all possessed a deep faith. All of my mom’s family were devout Catholics, and my father’s were just as devoutly Jewish. They respected the Ten Commandments and treated their neighbors of every race and creed with respect.

They lived their lives with the knowledge that God was the center of the universe and beyond.

How do I know?

Because every one of them that I have met in my lifetime have fit that description, and they must have learned from someone who came before them. That does not take years of family exploration to find out. Some things are obvious if you just stop, think about them and be grateful.

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2 Responses to “Who Am I?”

  1. Diane, my family shares a strong family bond, too, and we also possess a deep faith. Both of these things have made all the difference for us time and again. And yes, it’s who we are. And I’m forever grateful.

  2. Diane, enjoyed this. Our roots do go deep. I can look back at old pictures that trigger memories related to my life now. I come away thinking, “That explains it.”

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