I smile as I feel the strain of the muscles in my back earnestly attempting to keep my body upright as I gaze endlessly at the beach hitting the shore. I still have some fight left in me. It’s taken 54 years to finally construct this eternality. Although, the rumbles of my bones remind me of the conditions of a withering body, my existence feels timeless. This is the purest form of resiliency and I am thankful for this experience.
Who would have believed that I’d become one of the leading professionals in the insurance industry? The opportunity to serve in the capacity of a Chief Risk Officer for one of the leading insurance companies was an invaluable experience. Sadly, the splendor of the position seemed to diminish with the introduction of my grandchild into the world. My grandchild reminded me of the resources the youth in our community still needed to add value to society overall. My commitment to the insurance industry was suddenly replaced with a conviction to establish resources for children who for so long deserved initiatives geared towards their life preservation and sustainability. I mean, it is the least I could do after allowing my “relentless passion” for my career keep me from preserving my own family.
I am fortunate enough to have a partner, who after 50 years of marriage, still loves me with the same effervescence that made our youth feel so lively. It was that effervescence that made my presence not missed or questioned. She sometimes loved for both of us and that is a quality only attainable with a partnership where their souls are unequivocally unified.
We came from somewhat different cultural backgrounds, and in our youth the notion of “not deriving from the same black struggle” impacted perceptions of our union. I came from a Caribbean household; she is from an American household. Caribbean people, in the South especially, tend to say that Black Americans have an easier struggle. They’re doubt in our union stemmed from their belief that the “difference in struggle” would negatively impact on relationship. Forcibly, our marriage and the 50 years that followed that date, pushed our families to transcend cultural reservations and unify solely on the basis of being part of a black community.
Being adolescents that are leading the elders to the greater ideal of creating a black community seemed contradictory. However, thankfully, we both saw at an early age we have to take an unapologetic stance to the ownership of our lives; this principle was especially important to our children’s’ formation of religious beliefs. Growing up in a very religious and Christian household made the idea of practicing or even accepting another religion seem unforgivable. Although I believed in Christ, I never thought it was fair for my family to denounce the existence of other beliefs systems as the beliefs in Christianity may not line up with the beliefs of other individuals. I intended to expose my children all religions so they could be aware of all belief systems and choose according to what they felt resonated with them.
Some of my closest friends did not agree with this “system” as they felt this made room for potentially irrational behavior from our children. In my mind, it was irrational and a bit selfish to expose my children to Christianity just for the convenience of being on the same page. Nonetheless my friends were still great Godparents to my children, although they might have had to deal with a lot more lip service on religious beliefs than wanted. Of course, their duties would always need to be upheld regardless because the chance of losing a friend like me is too devastating. Even with the slight arthritis in my knee, I will still run at the immediate observation that they are within sight. “305 Till I Die” still headlines the name of our group chat, and sadly, may come into effect soon. As I approach my final days till my resting period I am reminded of these feats and weight of those struggles, but I smile eternally being at peace that my life has been fulfilled and will do something to fulfill the lives of others.
“Here lies Omar Jamal Powell, a leader of insight, servitude, and resiliency.”