Digging for Roots


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Digging for Roots.”

When I read about this challenge, the first thing that came to my mind was an observation I made within the approximately past five years. I could probably be considered a loner — nowhere near reclusive — just comfortable functioning independently of others. Comfortable in my own skin — yeah, that’s it. (In the cast of “The Big Bang Theory,” I would be Sheldon.) My observation showed me the basis of this attribute. I am the youngest of a family of four children. There are two years between each of my siblings but five years between the youngest of them and me. Even though my sister was splendid about making sure I was included in things where age didn’t matter, I still knew they enjoyed privileges I would have to wait years to experience. On the other hand, I got more alone time with my parents.

My dad and I savored pickled pig’s feet and crackers after he picked me up from Kindergarten. (You couldn’t pay me to eat one now.) My mom and I enjoyed shopping trips, puzzles, word games, restaurants. I owe my love of books and reading to being allowed to spend hours in the library across the street. And I had more “Golden Books” than you could shake a stick at. I remember going to the drive-in movie with them in my pj’s. Afterwards, Daddy would throw me over his shoulder and carry me into the house.

I remember the time Billy and Pat went to Chicago Bandstand. Our family gathered around the television, watchChicago_Bandstand_Postered and squealed with delight when we got a brief glimpse of them among the teenagers on the dance floor. Our family loved music; and it was one of the things that bridged our ages.

I still recall, however, that while they did teenager things together, I enjoyed one-on-one time with Momma and Daddy. They all attended school together (walking a few city blocks). But as the youngest, I attended grades 1 through 6 at the school where my mother was the secretary (riding across town in our family vehicle). My parents were pleasantly surprised when, at the age of 10, I debuted with “The Palmer Trio” — making our gospel group, “The Palmer Family Singers.”

Palmer Family Singers (1979; Gary, Indiana)

Palmer Family Singers (1979; Gary, Indiana)

Subsequently, I had no problem functioning alone. The greatest illustration of this attribute was when I decided to relocate my family from Gary, Indiana to Houston, Texas. After five years, and for five years following, I experienced the deaths of my mother, sister and older brother. While it was difficult when I couldn’t make the trip home for some of the surgeries, health episodes, etc., our bond transcended the miles. Our separation was physical only. And when I had my own health experience, updates to them were done by phone — multiple calls in a day between my sister and me were the norm.

I thank God for the faith that was instilled in me from a young age. That faith transcended the physical separation. Through the years, our dynamic and my place in the family structure prepared me to function independently — undergirded with my family’s love and support. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of each one of them, Daddy, Momma, Billy, Charles, Pat — my family. They have all gone on to Glory. But they prepared me to function independently with training in self-sufficiency.

Digging for Roots


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