“I was really young when I wanted…”—Marlaina Smith
“The Measure of Greatness”
Fiction. Based on a True Autobiography Reading
by Suzanna T.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional
I wish I could start my story with a cue to let you know that I’ve been destined for greatness since birth. But I can’t. No, I was born the normal way, and no doubt I got a little tap on the behind that made me cry just like every other child who has been born on the face of the Earth.
As for the greatness part…well, I’m still waiting on that. Every day I walk into a place owned and operated by people who have nothing left in life to lose. They talk of robbing us blind and slaying every person in the place. So just in case, I keep a buck knife tied to my behind. That’s not greatness, that’s life.
I wish I could say that my parents let me grow up on my own. That I learned how to handle myself at a young age, but I can’t. While our personalities were not stifled, we had rules; rules that I still follow now that I’m an adult. But that’s not greatness, that’s respect and foundation.
The one place where my sisters and I found no rules was in our imaginations. We could climb the dirt hills that my sister’d cleverly named Mt. Heaven and Mt. Hell. We fought to the death various nemesis and won every battle every time. But that’s not greatness, it was fantasy. In reality, we have about a 50/50 chance of getting our behinds whipped in a fight.
I wonder what my children will say. Will they curse me for the hover? In this day in time, if one doesn’t hover, they lose a baby. Even then…you could lose a baby. But that’s not greatness, it’s a tragedy that things can happen like that to a baby—your baby.
I wish I could say…something, anything other than “I tried my best.” For what good is your best if it’s not helping anybody? If it’s not growing something good?
I hear the talk from my Baby Daddy, “She take good care of y’all, so do what she ask you to.”
I speak into the receiver, “Happy Birthday Daddy (my Daddy). I wish I was able to get you something.” And in the calm baritone that read me and my sisters Bible verses until we fell asleep, he replies,
“You give me enough.”
Me? Enough? Sufficient? No…Maybe?
Maybe greatness isn’t measured by your past. Maybe it’s measured by your present and what you do in it.