I once heard Pastor TD Jakes preach a sermon about generational blessings and he gave the metaphor that when the parents are blessed it is like a tea cup and when the tea (blessings) spill over into the saucer that is being passed onto the next generation. (Side-note: metaphor, simile, analogy – in all my learning I have to admit sometimes when I am confounded, all roads lead to Google) When I heard this I liked it and I thought oooooooohhhhh nice, one day I will spill some blessings over for my children (as of this writing I am not married nor do I have children, but maybe one day).
I also had a second thought, I sure wish my parents or grandparents would have had some of those blessings (education, cash, property, cash, jewelry, cash, stocks, cash, bonds, cash, mutual funds, cash, houses, cash, silver spoons, cash, knowledge, cash, off-shore bank accounts, cash – you get the point!) to spill over onto me – then I would never have had to struggle, right?
It made me think of Beyonce’ and Jay-Z and how their unborn great-great-grandchildren are already wealthy which makes me smile more than I should because black excellence is personal (and because Houston girls are lit) .
I have this exercise I do whenever I feel I am lacking in something or missing out (FOMO) on something I think I need to get through life. It’s simple, I write down what I already have (not really material things…I lie! yes, sometimes material things…sometimes) and I am filled with gratitude. The following list has to do with legacy as it relates to working. The road to success is paved with hard work – no shortcuts there and I have a solid legacy of hard working people in my blood line. I don’t even have to go that far back to see the writing on the wall.
Mommy (Anita) – jobs:
1. Transcribing Medical Records (Summer Job)
2. Teaching Swimming Lessons at Carver Park (Summer Job)
3. K-Mart Associate (Women’s Apparel and Lay-A-Way)
4. Target Associate
5. Igloo Manufacturing (Putting labels on coolers – think assembly line)
6. La’ Bon Pain Bakery (Baked and Sold Bread- she was a baker)
7. Sandwich Shop (Work here with my Aunt Jackie and another friend)
8. Kroger (Baking Bread and Frying Donuts)
9. Cross-walker (Katy ISD)
10. Bus-driver (Katy ISD)
11. Hewlett Packard (Putting together motherboards – think assembly line)
12. Jeremiah Moonwalks (Owner and Operator) Side Hustle
13. Metro Bus Driver
14. Molly Maid Housecleaner (This was when there was a uniform that included lots of lace and lots of ruffles and she took us with her on jobs and now I can clean a house like a pro)
15. In-Home DayCare (At Lakeside Village Apartments – I would sometimes wake up with a small child sleeping at my feet or snuggled next to me in bed, all the children would become KidFirstName Westmoreland) Side Hustle
16. Newpaper Delivery (Katy, Texas) Side Hustle
17. Phonebook Delivery (Katy, Texas) Side Hustle
Grandmother (Barbara Jean) – jobs:
1. Cook -Jimmy Walker Restaurant (Kemah, Texas)
2. Walgreen’s Cook (Texas City, Texas)
3. Model for Evelyn Johnson Modeling School (Houston, Texas)
4. Dietician at Mainland Medical Center (this is the hospital where we were all born)
5. Washing and Ironing Teacher’s Clothes (Wheatley High School Summer Job)
6. Nurses Aid – John Sealy Hospital (Galveston, Texas)
Great-Grandmother (Bigmoma) – jobs:
1. Picked cotton in Madisonville, Texas (Crockett, Texas)
2. Maid for Dr. Brown (Crockett General Hospital)
3. Sold Insurance (if you know anything about selling insurance you know the grind is REAL – it doesn’t sell itself)
4. Breakfast Cook (Cafe’ in Houston)
5. Housekeeping for Owner of FingerHut Furniture
6. Shackle Representative (Side Hustle – Selling Health Products Door to Door)
7. Resale Shop Owner (Hwy 1765)
8. Childcare Worker
9. Director/Assistant Director of Galveston County Head Start (I spent many days as a tiny tot hanging out with Bigmoma here, I remember taking naps with my cousin LeLe on those green cots)
Daddy (Henry) – jobs:
1. Cutting grass in neighborhood (Started when he was 13)
2. Filing Station Attendant- Pumping Gas/Fixing Flats and other miscellaneous duties (Texas Ave. @ Anita Street) – This was a black owned business owned and operated by his cousins the Crittendons
3. Banquet Waiter in Holiday Inn Hotel Restaurant (Galveston, Texas) – started in the 10th grade and worked for 5 years
4. Co-op Program at Union Carbide (Chemical Plant) Summer Job (11th and 12th grade)
5. Construction – Vox International (Worked in the eqiupment yard and was laid off when the company moved to Houston) This was the only job he was ever laid off from.
6. Machine Operator / Extruder / Shift Manager / Lab Technician (VanLeer/ITW- Houston, Texas – 40 years – he worked here longer than I have been alive) Note: ITW actually funded part of my college education through a scholarship – shout out to them!
7. Jeremiah Moonwalks (Owner and Operator) Side Hustle
8. Newpaper Delivery (Katy, Texas) Side Hustle
9. Phonebook Delivery (Katy, Texas) Side Hustle
10. Cleaned Houses (Katy, Texas) Side Hustle
Grandmother (Grandma Rose) – jobs:
1. Maid – Holiday Inn Hotel (yes, this was the same place my Daddy worked and they had a cousin working there too – this was her first job going back to work after being a full-time mother to her 6 sons)
2. Flag Waiver – Brown & Root Contruction Company
3. Cashier – Crittendons Liquor Store (owned and operated byt the same cousins above)
4. Beer Cafe Owner (Galveston, Texas)
Grandfather (Papoo) – jobs:
1. Grain Elevator Operator (Dingy Operator: Moved rail cars around the yard) – Bunge (Grain Export Company) – he retired from this company the year I was born!
2. Grain – spillage from company he was allowed to sell, Side Hustle
3. Collect scrap metal, Side Hustle
4. Carpenter, Side Hustle
6. Raised Chickens
Great-Grandfather (Big Daddy)- jobs:
1. Jack of all trades – Self-Employed
2. BBQ Cook
3. Cut Pulp Wood
4. Lumberjack (I should note here that he was at one point struck by lightening and survived, he was 104 when he passed away if I remember correctly)
6. Farmer (My grandmother noted that when snakes would get after his chickens he would pop off their heads)
Great-Grandmother (Charlotte)- jobs:
1. Being a Mother
I have excelled at many jobs from being a cashier at Gerland’s to the many retail jobs (Nine West and Banana Republic were my favorite – I can fold clothes for days) I held in college and being a full time PhD student (yep, that’s a FULL-TIME job and I have the paystubs to prove it – it ain’t for errrrbody). I have learned many lessons along the way especially the hard truths about income taxes but what I had going into those jobs came from what my family deposited in me by raising me with ‘spill over’ blessings.
Also, it is interesting to me to find out that some of the jobs I am doing now are very similar to what my family has done. I am currently and entrepreneur with my own consulting firm – I am the boss. I am currently working on the side as an on and off cupcake and cake baker and looking to take some classes this year to improve my skills. Resale shops are my favorite go-to place for reasonably priced fashion. I also have a side-hustle as a Recorder for Home Owners Associations that I came into a few years ago and has been a great blessing when unexpected expenses have occured.
My siblings and cousins on both sides of my families also have careers/jobs that align with the family traits of working hard. One of my cousins has recently started her own photography business, LINK. My sister recently started her own interior decorating and handy-woman business, LINK. My oldest sister and my younger brother are now both working at Van Leer/ITW where my Daddy retired from. I have a cousin that is a nurse and one that is a world traveler. I have a cousin that is a cook/chef/caterer.
My famiilies unofficial motto should be the same as Clark Atlanta University – “I’ll find a way or make one” because that is exactly what we do. It is with much gratitude and grace that we carry on the family legacy of hard work to build our own families and create our own success stories. We are building up from the firm foundation passed to us by our family (native Texan).