Creating a New Family Legacy
Honoring a soul I never got to meet, straying from a life-risking action, beginning new traditions in my bloodline
My great-grandmother, Lillian Marie Walsh Patterson, was a kind, spirited, influential figure not only to her husband Frank, daughter Barbara (my grandmother), son-in-law Luther (my grandfather), grandchildren Kathleen, Mark, and Michael (my father), all her other in-laws, and close friends, but also to those who succeeded her, myself included.
Lillian was a lifelong cigarette smoker and passed away from lung cancer in 1986, 10 years before I was born. I learned in my single-digit age years how she passed and that she easily could have lived at least two more decades--this meant that I could have met her with a cognizant memory. Additionally, the first time my father told me about Frank's reaction to her passing, I almost felt like I, too, was in despair.
After hearing that, I vowed to never smoke a cigarette in my life. Some 15 years later (today), I have not even held one in my hand. That won't change. In moments of heightened sensitivity, I have teared up just by looking at them.
On a positive note, my father has told me on several occasions that I share not only Lillian's personality and charisma, but her love of music. This struck me, as my family's music history borders on zero. I didn't learn until I started pursuing music at the professional level that she sang and played piano for people whenever opportunities arose. Perhaps this is why I've felt such a strong connection to her since learning who she was, not only because I was named after her.
This is a story I will never get tired of sharing with people. In addition to advocating for lung cancer prevention, with my undying passion for singing, songwriting, and playing guitar, my goal is to integrate a strong music foundation into my bloodline. If Lillian was able to make such an impact on my family with her kind soul and musical enthusiasm, I'll never hesitate to carry that on.
Grandma Lil, I think of you every day and try to inspire my listeners and fans by telling your story and why I chose your name to represent my musical and artistic creations. I know you'd be proud of me.