I Will Always Remember Toni Morrison
Checking our Twitter today, I gasped as I saw the notice about the passing of Toni Morrison. As a child, before I probably should have, I read Beloved. I found it among my mom’s books. I get my love of reading from my parents. They read voraciously. I used to help my mom lug bags of books from the library. I’m not joking, bags, that my mom would read from cover to cover. From time to time, I would “sneak” one or two out and read them.
I can’t remember now if Beloved and later The Bluest Eye were in my mom’s personal book collection or had been in the many bags of library books that passed through our home.
All I could remember was thinking that, this woman, a black woman, from Ohio, my home state, wrote such engaging stories I could not put down. Engaging, seems too small of a word. The impact this book had on me was that discovered I enjoyed writing.
I had not been a diary type of girl. I was very practical and not a big dreamer, that is until Toni. I found myself writing about the themes I’d read, how they affected me and words I would have said if we’d been in a book club, before I realized they existed.
Before graduating from high school, I did a family project exploring my mom’s family history. I interviewed my great-grandmother who was in her eighties at the time. It was during that conversation that I found out about our family’s connection with slavery. It was closer than what it seemed in the history books. I may have been more intend because I’d just read Beloved.
If you’re not familiar, Beloved, winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is the story of a mom, Sethe, a former slave who struggles with her freedom after escaping to Ohio. My family too had escaped to Ohio and were adjusting to their new lives in Ohio.
I wrote about our family, using quotes from the recorded interview with my great-grandmother. From that day forward, writing became my outlet.
Several years later, I picked up The Bluest Eye. When Toni Morrison received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. I was struggling with my final few semesters of university. I’m not sure why or how I even noticed. I guess I was meant to. The announcement made it through my crazy work and school schedules. Through my long nights of study, worrying I would not make it, that I would fail. I read everything I could about Ms. Morrison. I was fascinated about her, her journey.
It inspired me, again, towrite, to dream,…to achieve.
RIP Toni Morrison