My grandparents had 14 children.
My mom can name each of her siblings like an auctioneer calls a new high bid.
An Irish Catholic family, growing up in Lakeland, Florida.
My grandfather was a dentist in WWII.
He chose the profession because, growing up during the Great Depression,
he noticed the local dentist was one of the few who ate.
In Lakeland grandpa switched to orthodonture--
The only one in town.
At his funeral last year, I learned he broke the law.
He ignored the dictates of the Jim Crow South and insisted that everyone use
the front door.
His waiting area didn’t separate black and white.
Everyone used the same chairs.
He insisted on fair treatment for all.
When they cleaned out his office, and looked at his records,
they found scores of patients who only paid $1 a month for their teeth,
Because he believed poor folks deserved straight teeth, too.
His wife of 70 years supported his decision to break the law and fix teeth for virtually free.
In fact, she encouraged it.
They had 14 mouths to feed, but they thought the risk was worth it.
Their faith demanded it.
“God will always provide,” grandma insisted.
And, for them, He provided in abundance.
I come from humble, decent stock,
Who stood up against injustice
In small, quiet ways.
Resistors through simple actions.
About the Author
Brian Kissel is an Associate Professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His focus is writing instruction. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Hattie and three kiddos: Charlie, Ben, and Harriet.