I write this blog with a heavy heart. Recently, my paternal grandfather died. I am comforted by the fact that he did not suffer and he was surrounded by his children. Michael Fraser Tomlinson was my father’s father. He was known as “Tailor”” Mike, because of his mastery of the trade. I can sense in me his entrepreneurial spirit, a spirit that encouraged him to leave his Jamaican homeland to pursue success in America. He was my last surviving grandparent. His passing made me think of all my grandparents and their impact on my life.
It is clear that who I am is a product of who came before me. All that I am is because of them. My every trait, skill, thought and behavior comes from my lineage. My paternal grandmother has given me the strength and fortitude to persevere. Being blind for most of her life never stopped her. She was an eternal optimist and always saw the half full glass. She always made me feel like I could accomplish anything. My maternal grandmother’s powerful connection to God and love of the piano changed the way I saw the world. I remember shadow boxing the devil for her. I can still hear her playing hymns on our piano.
Any success I claim cannot be claimed without acknowledging them. Any win I have comes as a result of what they have handed down to me. Whatever I achieve is due to the foundation they have laid. I am who I am because of them. This I cannot forget.
As human beings we have a tendency to assume that we are all self-made. We assume that all we are is because of our own hard work. We are who we are partly from our work ethic, but we cannot ignore the contributions of our parents and their parents. What they did, gives us the opportunity to do what we do. Before we hang that degree, accept that award or deposit that paycheck, we should take a moment to thank those who have given us the opportunity to succeed. We are who we are because of who they were.
Rest in Peace Tailor Mike, Adrianna and Zenna. Thank you for all you have done for me. I will continue building on the foundation you have laid.