When I was a little girl growing up in Brooklyn, New York, my father used to take me to Prospect Park all the time. Each time we’d go, I would sit under the same big oak tree and wonder what my life as a grown-up would be like. My parents were very socially conscious and civil rights activists. They were educated, cultured, and interesting people. They exposed me to all things cultural: art, music, and literature. My father bought me a deck of Authors Cards and I had to memorize each author’s name and recite some of their works, eg. Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems: Foreign Lands, My Ship and I, My Shadow, all from A Child’s Garden of Verses. These assignments were part of my “homeschooling” and these lessons have stayed with me and probably added to my already active imagination, as I imagined my life in the future.
Early on I fancied myself a writer. I would sit at my desk, that my father had built, and type on my little typewriter. I was never really typing anything of note, but I felt like a “girl of letters.” As I tapped away at the keyboard, I wrote stories about people, places and things. I wrote poems and some were published in what was known as the School Bank News, which was a hometown newspaper published by our neighborhood bank. These were short poems about spring, the weather, the seasons, rainy and sunny days. I would watch programs on our TV about female writers and imagined myself living in the “City” writing, meeting a wonderful man, getting married and living happily ever after….. well, you know, I lived in my little head a lot.
As I got older, I still had a very vivid and keen imagination. I was now writing short stories in my English classes. This all against the backdrop of a burgeoning civil rights movement, with events daily unfolding on our one TV. The Montgomery bus boycott, the emergence of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, the KKK, Birmingham bombings, lynchings, water hoses. All of these events would soon affect my writing. What I wrote began to change from soft musings of my future life to thoughts about the changing times. Soon the authors I would be reading included Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Dorothy West, and Mary McCarthy, a mixture of black and female authors, that helped to enrich and form my thoughts about life and the way I viewed the world. We would suffer many losses in the 60’s. I didn’t really understand what was going on. I was young and at the beginning of everything.
As the 70’s approached, I began to lose my uncles right into the 80’s and 90’s. These were all sad events in my life. I lost my grandmother in the early 80’s and my godfather, too, both while my parents were serving in the Peace Corps. These last two losses I considered to be the greatest at that time as they were the two people I was closest to, especially my Nana, who seemed omnipresent. I would mourn her quietly for many years.
When my father passed away in 2005, my life stood still. I had been daddy’s little girl and he was the one who inspired me to write and write and write. His mother, my grandmother, had been a schoolteacher and she was a published author in her little town of Lowmoor, Virginia. My favorite aunts, Anice and Ailleen, as well as my father, often mentioned how I reminded them of her. After his death, a light in me went out. I would mourn him sorely and quietly up until the day that my husband became ill in December 2007. I’d built up a lot of hurts inside keeping everything in, but the pain from the loss of my dad and others became a “backdrop” pain that never really went away.
So it seems fitting that after the death of my husband Chuck, I would eventually put pen to paper and express my feelings of enduring loss, sorrow and the rebuilding of my life. Only this time, after having lived a full and rich life, I could now share my experiences, advice, and wisdom with others.
When I look at the trajectory of my life and the road that I’ve traveled, full of losses, pain, and quiet grieving, I can see how I’ve arrived at this place. Now that I’ve felt the pain and endured the suffering, I feel free.
This is the road that has led me home.
Yvonne Broady was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received a BA in Art Education from C.C.N.Y and an MA in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. After graduation she taught elementary school, was an arts liaison, produced and directed children’s musicals and simultaneously designed jewelry that was sold in various boutiques and department stores across the Northeast. Yvonne also wrote freelance reviews for local papers on fashion, style and New York City restaurants. Her love of people and style led her to produce several cable TV shows. New York Highlights, which aired from 1984 to 1991 was a talk show covering a variety of topics including financial management, male-female relationships, mother daughter relationships, entrepreneurs, spirituality and other themes from a mostly African-American perspective. The second show was The Way We Live. On this show she explored the interior design and lifestyles of people in and around the Tri State Metropolitan area.
After having lost her husband to pancreatic cancer in 2009, and finding herself faced with trying to rebuild her life as she dealt with excruciating pain and grief, Yvonne decided to write a book sharing her experience. Brave in a New World is a story of love lost, grief and recovery. This book offers a guide to those who are experiencing grief and pain after loss. It also explains the variety and complexity of feelings one has when they are mourning. Yvonne Broady shares her journey through the grief experience and how she gradually learned to recreate a new life of her own.
Yvonne Broady has one adult son and resides in New York City.