I am very fortunate or maybe I should say blessed to have been chosen to channel the story within the pages of the epic novel “Just a Season”. It chronicles what has been called a contemporary “Roots” with the emotion of “The Color Purple” that will cause you to see the world through new eyes. Another reviewer said, “This is the stuff movies are made of… I have not read anything that so succinctly chronicles an African American story.” I was very pleased and honored to have receive that kind of acclaim.
Just a Season is the predecessor to Legacy – A New Season that will be released very soon. It’s been several years since Just a Season, and it’s time to move on. Generations have come and gone, life is bearable after all, and hope lives in a little boy and in a man who almost lost all hope.
It’s been said that there are no words that have not been spoken and no stories that have never been told but there are some you cannot forget. “Legacy” – A New Season” is the perfect compliment to that statement and the continuation of Just a Season. It is a stand-alone story rich in history on a subject rarely explained to children of this generation – the African American struggle.
This long awaited squeal to the epic novel Just a Season will take you on an awe inspiring journey through the African-American Diaspora, as told by a grandfather to his grandson in the oral African tradition at a time when America changed forever.
I want to share the being of the story which I have been told will capture you from the first page transporting you into John’s word. It is a luminous story into the life of a man who, in the midst of pain and loss, journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life. What follows is the prelude that I hope you will enjoy. Oh, did I tell you that Just a Season is a must read novel…
A season is a time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon that some call life. One of the first things I learned in this life was that it is a journey. During this passage through time I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter. Today, I have to face a valley and it’s excruciating. It’s June 28th, a day that I once celebrated as a very special day. Now, it’s filled with sorrow. The reason this day is different from all others is because I have come to the cemetery at Friendly Church.
Normally it’s hot and humid as summer begins, but not so today. It’s a cool gray day with the sky slightly overcast. I hear the echo of birds chirping from a distance. There is also a mist or a light fog hovering very near the ground that gives the aura of a mystical setting. This is a place where many of my family members who have passed away rest for eternity. Some have been resting here for over a hundred years. I have grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, a sister, and many friends here as well. The cemetery is in the most tranquil of places secluded from the rest of the world, very peaceful and beautiful, almost like being near the gateway of heaven.
My heart aches today because I have come here on what would have been my son’s birthday. This is a very hard thing for me to do as the natural order suggests it should be the other way around. Another difficulty is that this is the first time I will see his headstone that was put in place just a few days ago. Although I know what it should look like, it’s going to be hard to actually see it. It will indicate the finality of losing the dearest of all human beings. It’s hard to imagine what the rest of my life will be like without my precious son.
As I pass Granddaddy’s gravesite, I stop to say hello. After a brief moment, I continue in the direction of my son’s resting place. As I get closer, I begin to receive a rush of emotion to the point that my movements slow as the sight comes into view. I can now see his name clearly and I whisper “God why did you take him?” I become numb as I finally arrive at his gravesite, overwhelmed with this never before known emotion. This is something I never thought I would ever have to do, but here I am!!!
Suddenly, the sky begins to clear somewhat, as I now feel the sun’s rays from above. At this very moment, I receive an epiphany upon reading the dates inscribed on the stone. 1981 – 2001. What does this really mean? The beginning and the end, surely, but in the final analysis it is just a tiny little dash that represents the whole life of a person. I fall to my knees realizing the profound impact of that thought causing me to look to the heavens and wonder. If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash. What might they say?
The story begins in late November 1951 on a clear sunny Sunday afternoon. It was fairly cool for an autumn day and as it was the custom in the Reid family, everyone had gone to church early to give praise to the Lord. This was a special day for this family. It was a special day because of their anticipation of a new member into the family. So it was a great, great feeling of joy and excitement that filled their home. Ruth and Josie did not attend church this day, because Josie was overdue and expecting to give birth at anytime.
The Reid residence was Granddaddy’s house, where friends and family gathered after church for dinner most Sundays. Granddaddy was the anchor and his home was viewed as a welcoming sanctuary to all who came. Granddaddy and his family lived on a farm of about two hundred acres. In a time when living was tough in this very segregated rural area of Maryland, it was even harder being a sharecropper. In fact, this was really just a step above slavery and not much of a step, I might add.
This was a very small family, tightly woven together, and built on faith. The Reid family was proud, respected, and well known in this community. The family’s core was Sylvanus, affectionately called Vanus, but to me he was Granddaddy. A quiet hard working family minded man. He married Miss Gladys in the mid nineteen twenties and had lived on this place since then. Although they did not own the farm nor did they have very many material possessions, they were rich in love and strong in faith. The farm was all they knew and this family was their life.
Granddaddy was a proud man who commanded respect by his mere presence. He was strong, and had to be, because of his life’s existence. He believed the event about to take place would be the blessing for which he had long dreamed. To him this was a bright beacon of hope. He believed firmly that faith was being sure of what you hoped for and certain of what you could not see. Granddaddy conceived this understanding, maybe through a vision, that this child would be key to the future of his family. He had very high hopes that this event would bring the gift for which he had long waited.
Miss Gladys, his beloved wife, was a good Christian woman and a real fighter. She was known throughout the community as Big Momma, and Big Momma was something else. If that’s the way she saw it, that’s the way it ought ta be. She would always say, “I’m like a blue hen chicken, I cluck but I never sit.” I don’t think anyone really understood what she meant by that, but she was the boss. Well, she was the boss to everyone but Granddaddy.
Their union produced one son, Sonny, who was Ruth’s husband. They had three children. Their names were Effie, Dottie, and Buddy. Martha, their oldest daughter had one child, a son, whose name was Willie. Then there was Josie, the youngest of Granddaddy’s children. Which meant, as the baby of the family she was special. Oh yeah, there was also a child Granddaddy raised whose name was Lilly and this was pretty much the Reid family. Also present on this day was Martha’s boyfriend Lonnie, as he was on most weekends. The gathering on this day also included a few of the good church folk who came by after the church service.
If you love history and want to know our story visit http://johntwills.com for more information and to purchase the novels. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…