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Evelyn C. Fortson

African American Author of Women's Fiction


“God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise,” is a pearl of wisdom that I often heard my elders say. I never thought much about it until now.

How many times have you made plans, and they didn’t work out? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make plans. Planning is good, it gives us something to look forward to, and it gives us a sense of control. Controlling the things in our lives makes us feel secure in a world full of uncertainty.

Now when I make plans, I say to myself, God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise, because I know that I’m not in control. God is in control. There are forces in this world that will work against our plans, but if it is God’s will, it will come to pass. This I know to be true.

I hear my grandmother and mother’s voices when I hear those words. My voice mingles with theirs’ as I repeat the saying. I write sayings like that in my books because I want you to hear your mother’s voice when you read them. That saying and others go back generations and are a part of who we are. We can’t let them fade into oblivion, because to do so, would be letting go of another piece of us.

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I was so pragmatic as a young woman that it was hard to allow myself to dream. I loved to draw, but I couldn’t see myself making a living from it, so I stopped drawing. I balled up my dreams like a tight wad of paper and got a job that I worked for 40 years.

But the thing about dreams is even if you don’t believe that they are possible they never die, not completely. They hover in your peripheral where you catch fleeing glimpses of them. They become ghostly orbs that float just beyond reach. They become the agonizing question, “What if?”

I have smoothed out the furled paper that once represented my dreams. It’s tattered, crinkled, and yellowed.

The dream I now have is different from the dream of yesterday. Both dreams deal with being creative. I draw pictures and paint with my grandsons, but no one has to like them but us.

I dream now of becoming a renowned author. Writing stories for my Sistah’s pleasure. Telling stories where she can escape, dream, or contemplate.

No one has to like the books I have written or the ones I will write, but my dream is that they will.

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My parents and grandparents have left shoes that cannot be filled. The loss is too great for one person to conceal, it will take all of their children to cover it.

My oldest brother Rickey gave each of his sisters a bracelet and told us that our mother was getting too old. He wanted one of us to keep her traditions alive, he wanted one of us to keep our family together. Rickey and my mother both are gone and unfortunately neither of his sisters were able to keep our family connected as we once were. I have two sisters and one brother left, we were once three girls and three boys. We were once a mother, father and six kids.

I wonder sometimes how disappointed and sad my parents would feel if they saw their children now.

What has happened to my family is not uncommon. Once that person or persons that held the family together passes, family unity dies with them.

If you are the elder in your family keep trying to be as good as the one before you. If the one before you dropped the mantel, pick it up for the generation that needs someone to create family traditions.

We must tell our unique family history to the children so that they will know the people that made them possible. They will know that they too can overcome anything that is placed in their way.

When they hear about the grandmother that wrote books, or the great-grandfather that left his southern hometown and migrated to Los Angeles for a freedom that was not available to him back home. They will know that they too can dream, and create a world that they want to live in. They will also learn how important family is for our survival, individually and collectively.

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