A while back, I recorded a one and a half minute piece about my late grandfather for Rural Voices Radio, a great program and tradition that the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute coordinated with Mississippi Public Broadcasting for years. My friend and mentor Emily Noble just has a great knack for helping students and teachers find their voices through writing. RVR ran into funding issues a few years ago, which I think is a real shame. Check out their website and you’re likely to find several pieces that hit home with you.
There’s a little bit of everything. There’s tributes to special places, like Leigh Pourciau’s “The City That Care Forgot.”
There’s musings on southern life, like Sheri Blankenship’s “Digging.”
There’s lots of unique perspectives on life in Mississippi by children, like Katie Sumner’s “The Baby in the Basket.”
It’s like a walk down memory lane.
Anyway, here’s my contribution from October 2012:
My late grandfather was outfitted in a way I’ll never be. He was a superhero from the Greatest Generation. Lt.Colonel James M. Bellah, who left his Mississippi farm to lead dozens in World War II. Who never finished college, but rose to become Vice President of First Mississippi Corporation. Towering. Triumphant. Granite.
And then there was me. I didn’t have much in common with Grandpa, except for my first name, which was given in honor of him. I’m a member of Generation Y, the Lost Generation. Ambitious. Hungry. Wandering.
That was until 2012. Things started coming together for me. I learned things about myself. I found a path to my dream job. I lost 30 pounds!
And then, one Sunday, my mom pulled out an old three piece, blue pinstripe suit that belonged to Grandpa. It might as well have been the Cape of Superman. Awestruck, I held the fabric in my hands, not understanding how I could even hope to put on the appearance of such a man, but somehow, inexplicably, it fit, perfectly. It wouldn’t have fit me in 2011, nor would I have needed to try it on. But somehow, someway, the moment I needed it, the mantle of my grandfather became mine.