|Bernard mailing his African Ancestry DNA in|
When my youngest son Bernard was a child, we visited many, archives, libraries, and museums. By the time he turned twelve years old, he had traveled to twenty-two states. Tasting different food and meeting new people along the way. Sometimes we flew, and for the most part we would drive so that we could stop and visit some of the major attractions.
With a big smile and his luggage packed he was all ready to travel on our summer adventure. We made plans to take a road trip for two weeks driving up the East Coast and ending up in Washington, D.C, at the National Archives. He was too young to go into the National Archives, so my ex-husband took him around College Park while I did some genealogy research. I don't know how much of the history lessons he was retained at that time. I know I had to teach and expose him.
It was one of the best summer vacations we can remember. We purchased a map for him to follow along. We packed books and some of his favorite things he enjoyed playing with and hit the road headed east. During that time they didn't have a GPS to guide us on our trip. We made sure to purcahse postcards in each state to send back to the family at home.
Years later we took another road trip with Moussa Albaka, a well known Tuareg silversmith to meet other Tuareg people from Niger, Africa who moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. We're welcome with big smiles and hugs by the Tuareg people. We had dinner and wonderful conversation before head to the Atlantic ocean so that Bernard could take his African Ancestry DNA test.
He faced the ocean and imagined the ships coming to the Americas with his ancestors on it. We held each other in hopes that he will find out where in Africa his paternal ancestors come from. Six weeks later he finds out that his paternal lineage connected him to Nigeria, West Africa.
Learning about our family history had taken us many beautiful places to meet some wonderful people and new family members along the way. As I write this blogpost, I can't help but think about the time Bernard and I drove to Chicago to visit our Harrell family member with my Uncle Raymond. Bernard has just met his 3rd maternal cousins. He met cousins that his maternal grandmother hasn't met. I was happy that we took this trip that summer.
Uncle Raymond played one of his old-time gospel songs again and again. It seems like he played that song from the time we left Louisiana to we arrived in Chicago. Bernard asked him why did he keep playing the same song over and over again? During our stay in Chicago, Uncle Raymond wanted us to meet the descendants of my great-uncle Warner Harrell. So the three of us drove up to Wisconsin and met new family, and we really enjoyed our visit with cousin Dan Harrell and his family.
One week the white lines on the highway were calling me again. I asked Bernard if he wanted to go and visit the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee? He said yes and was eager to go. We packed our luggage on a sunny Friday afternoon and drove the five-hour trip. We went west to visit Alex Haley House Museum in Henning, Tennessee first. We took the guided tour and took pictures before traveling back to Memphis to get dinner and checking in the hotel.
The next morning after breakfast we headed to the National Civil Rights Museum and spent the day touring the Museum. What better way to teach a child about the history? He had a lot of questions to ask about the Civil Rights Movement. I hope when he becomes a father, he'll take road trips with his children and teach them their history. One thing for sure the road trip we took by driving meant that we could stop all along the highway and get some good tasting food and site see.
I hope he holds these memories dear to his heart like I hold them in my heart. This was our time spent together. Now that he is an adult we haven't taken a road trip and just because he is all grown-up, doesn't mean we shouldn't. My grandchildren are taking road trips with me now. They'll soon become teenagers and they will have other plans. But the beautiful and sweet memories I hope will never be forgotten.
I enjoyed taking him places with me and having him to be a part of the many events we went to. The only thing I regret is I wish that we could have had more time in his formative years. The time went by quickly that once little boy is now twenty-five years old.
I want to make it a family tradition that we all take a road trip to visit museums, antique shops, fun attractions, and enjoy family time spent together.