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1927 -- 2010
As I think back, it was around this time that I decided that I was pretty smart. In fact – and this is about the age that it happens with most kids – I was beginning to think that I was as smart, or “maybe” even smarter, than my mother. After all, with Lucinda having grown up in the South in the middle of the Jim Crow era, I was well on my way to having more formal education than she ever had the opportunity to attain.
Now, I’m sure that most of you have heard the old saying that – “the older you get, the smarter your parents get.” Well, I stand here today to assure you that, in the case of Lucinda Acker, it is absolutely true.
Exactly how smart is Lucinda…? Well, let me tell you a story. There was a single mother, with limited formal education, who raised six kids on the West Side of Chicago in the 1950’s and 1960’s. She worked hard – often working two jobs – she loved her children dearly – and she had an unshakable faith in God. As a result, her six children, all now in their 50’s and 60’s, all survived. They all graduated from high school. They were never in trouble with the law. They all got good jobs and led productive lives. They became good Christians. And they now have wonderful children and beautiful grandchildren.
Now, I ask you. Is that not a remarkable story…? Based on what you know – and certainly what you see on the news every night – this kind of story just does not happen that often. It takes a hardworking woman – like Lucinda Acker – who loves her children – and loves her God – to accomplish such a feat.
But, now, I really did not answer the question that I posed. “Exactly how smart is Lucinda?” I said that her hard work, her love of her children, and her faith in God produced the results in the story that I just told you. But this story, for as remarkable as it may be, is not the complete story of Lucinda Acker.
Lucinda six children did not just survive the perils of growing up on the West Side of Chicago. They excelled. And the reason they excelled is because Lucinda “truly” understood the value of education and knowledge. And using gentle persuasion – and, when necessary, “not so gentle” persuasion – Lucinda made sure that we understood that doing poorly in school was “not an option.” As a result, her children did not just have jobs. They had careers – an attorney, a school principal, a high level manager at the Post Office – and so forth.
And, our children, Lucinda’s eleven grandchildren, have also excelled. They have earned a total of approximately thirteen college degrees. I say approximately because it seems that one of them is always going back to school to get another degree in something.
And our children’s children, Lucinda’s eleven great-grandchildren, are adhering to the standard of educational excellence that Lucinda has always set. The three oldest are already in college. In fact, Michelle, who is the oldest, will be graduating from the University of Illinois next month. And there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the eight who are not yet eighteen-years old will be on their way to college as soon as they graduate from high school. As for Lucinda’s latest great-grandchild, knowing my sister Juanita and her daughter Camille, they have probably already bought enough clothes for little Jeff’s first two years of college.
So, how wise is Lucinda? How intelligent is Lucinda? How smart is Lucinda? Her family having, thus far, earned twenty college degrees – including two law degrees and two doctorial degrees – authoring four books – and receiving numerous awards – may be the best answer to these questions.
Indeed, the Sanford family – led by our matriarch Lucinda Acker – has many accomplishments. But, we are not perfect. My wife, Rose, once said – you know, there is something about you Sanfords – I can’t quite put my finger on it – not that it’s a bad thing – but there’s just something…
Well, after we discussed it, we decided that a good word to describe that “something” was probably “hubris.” One way of defining hubris is as follows: No matter where “you” are – as “you” look around – You always think that “you” are the smartest person in the room. This is a trait that all the Sanfords obviously inherited from Lucinda Acker.
Now, I can not tell everyone who sits in a room with Lucinda what to believe. However, as for Lucinda’s children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren who have not yet figured it out – let me save you some time. For all of your college degrees, your books, and your awards, you will never be the smartest person in the room if Lucinda Acker is there.
Finally, let me mention something that I hope does not embarrass Lucinda – any more so than I may already have done. Two or three years ago, she made a very brief comment in front of me and other family members. We did not discuss her comment. I am not even sure who heard it or who paid attention to it. Essential what “I” heard Lucinda say was that – maybe she was too hard on her children – maybe she was not a perfect mother.
Well, Lucinda, let me and the rest of your family assure you that if you are not perfect, you are, indeed, absolutely the best mother, the best grandmother, and the best great-grandmother that your family could have ever hoped to have.
Lucinda, we are blessed, “truly blessed,” to have you in our lives. And everyday that passes, we appreciate what you have done for us – more and more and more. And everyday that passes, we love you – more and more and more.
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