We all have, at some point in our lives, difficult periods that can bring us down. Finding the best coping mechanisms and inner strength within ourselves will help us to overcome challenges, and that can be crucial for one’s survival. I often think of my own grandparents, their lives and life experiences in order to get inspiration, power to go on, inner peace and perspective on life and humanity, if I am having difficult times myself. This helps me personally. I cherish my grandparents’ legacy, their life journey, their wisdom and attitude towards life.
My grandmother was born in Jamaica in 1918 and came over to England by a ship in the Windrush era in the early 1950’s, as Britain’s industries needed labour force. She left her native homeland to start a fresh new life in a new country, with no idea of what lied ahead of her. She came alone with one suitcase only and had no place to go. Societal racism was highly visible, for example, there were signs saying “No blacks, No Irish and No dogs allowed” in front of buildings. She must have been frightened, uncertain and worried of her future. I am certain that she also suffered from verbal abuse, direct and hidden racism, cultural ignorance, psychological violence and possibly other forms of mistreatment.
How did she survive all this? Where did she find her strength to get through all this? What was her driving force? My grandmother has never complained to me about those difficult times she encountered. It makes me think of what was going through her mind at that time. How strong was she really? Little did she know of her future at that point.
I suppose quite soon after she arrived, she met my grandfather in a communal housing unit where they both lived and where black people were allowed to find accommodation. They fell in love and today there are over 100 of us around the world as a result of their love for one another. I am one of them and I feel as I belong to a family of survivors. I consider myself as extremely lucky. This gives me strength to go through my own struggles during difficult times.
In a few months’ time, my family and I will be celebrating my grandmother's 100th birthday in London and as a tradition Her Royal Highness; the Queen Elizabeth II will send her a personal birthday card to congratulate her. I know this is the highlight of the year for my grandmother. My highlight of the year will be to celebrate our strong and wonderful grandmother together with my diverse and multicultural loving family.
"We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” - Max de Pree-
Lyömätön Linja Espoossa ry