Welcome back for another post telling my story of being in business for 25 years. As I stated in the About section of the blog website, I will share with you the things in my life that have shaped me and affected me and makes me the person I am today and why I love architecture and construction.
I am going to apologize now for this post being longer than a post probably should be written. However, to truly share the 25-year journey of building a company, I must share with you the things that make me fearful, my love for others and my profession, my compassion for others, and my continuing growth in my Christian beliefs and faith.
As I stated in my post last week, I was born and raised in Chicago, and we moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in the summer of 1970. I talked about how I got interested in architecture and how I ended up at Morehouse. I feel to truly enjoy and understand my story of building a business, I must share with you the things that make me tick and make me the person I am today.
I must start by telling about the impact my grandfather, James Moody, had on me. He taught me a few key things in life. The first is love, and the next is courage and never quitting. My grandfather came to America at the age of 17 in 1901 from Belize, which then it was called British Honduras. He worked his way over on a banana boat, and he landed in New Orleans. He knew no one in America. My grandfather valued education. When he went to start school, at 17 years old, they put him in the 6th grade. Rather than quit and become discouraged, my grandfather went on to finish college, marry a great woman, and raise eight kids in a shotgun house in Baton Rouge, La. Even though he never owned a car or had inside plumbing or electricity in the home for years, all of their kids finished college, all eight received advanced degrees, and my grandfather became a supervisor of the black teachers in Baton Rouge. Over the years, whenever I get discouraged or fearful, I often think about how much courage he had to leave his country and come somewhere where the law of the land was segregation, be put back into 6th grade at 17 years old, yet never dwell on the negative and stayed the course of obtaining an education and raising a family where education was important and God was key in their lives.
This next story was how he taught me the importance of love and what is true love. My grandparents were great to watch. I visited Baton Rouge often until they both passed away in the early 1970s. On one of my visits, around the age of 12 or 13, my grandmother had had been deceased for about a year, and I watched my grandfather walk into the house with some flowers in a vase. I remember thinking what is he doing with those flowers; grandma has passed away. He went into their bedroom, and even though my grandmother was no longer living, I heard him say, as he placed the flowers on the dresser, “These flowers are for you Mrs. Moody; I love you”. That was the most powerful thing I ever heard and felt in my life. I decided then I would love like my grandfather one day.
The next person that had an impact on me greatly was my maternal grandmother, Anne Maude Park. She was born in Madison, GA in 1896. She was a sharecropper and lived in Georgia until the mid 1930s and moved to Chicago with the Great Migration of African Americans to the North from the South. I was blessed to spend a lot of time with her. She lived to be 97 and died in 1993. She often told me about being a sharecropper and how they could never get ahead and what it was like to live in segregation. She would talk to me about how hard work was good for the body and mind; fresh air was good for your body; laughter was good for you. We often went fishing, and we would have great times just laughing. My grandmother taught me that regardless how tough things might be in your life, don’t become bitter and always laugh daily. She didn’t go pass the 6th grade, but she taught me to never judge a person’s knowledge by their level of education. She had a PhD in life, and she blessed me with her joyful heart.
In future weeks I will talk more about how much my parents had a positive impact on me. They taught me to go for my dreams, and my dad taught me many things. The few things that stick out are to pray and read my daily Bible study before I leave the house each day and to never leave the house without breakfast. I follow these items every day still in my life. My mother is what many people would call a genius. She will deny it, but she is. She went to college at 15, where my parents met. She is the creative one, the one with all of the energy. She is the one that taught me to enjoy life and never stop trying to reach your goals. I am a momma’s boy and proud of it.
My younger brothers, Corey and Cameron, have always been the two I have protected and, at the same time, I’ve been the big brother from hell, if you let them tell it. I thought I was a nice big brother and them being my servant was just part of the benefits of being an older brother by 5 and 6 years, respectively.
I had many teachers that inspired me in life. I loved my boy scout troop, camping and hiking. Our scout master, Mr, Berry, was a great man. Unfortunately, when our troop was away on a camping trip with Mr. Berry, his three kids decided to drive down South, all three were killed in a car accident. That was a horrible time for us all, and we all felt guilty because he was with us instead of his kids. Our troop never was the same, and then my family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I didn’t get back in the scouts, and that is one of my “do overs” I wish I could do, because I wanted to become an eagle scout.
Fortunately, I am now a board member for the Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America. I have also been a scout leader for my son’s troop many years ago. In September 2012, my wife and I endowed a scholarship to send underprivileged boys to the Philmont Ranch camp in New Mexico. The biggest joy for me was when I went to Philmont this past September and hiked for two days. I had been wanting to go to Philmont for 45 years, and I finally made it and was not disappointed. God knows when the time is right. My going to Philmont now caused me to endow a scholarship for others to attend in the future.
I have always loved sports, and I had a great little league baseball coach named Coach Barnes. He looked like Jackie Robinson and really loved us and baseball. He taught me so much about life and sports, and I will always be grateful to him.
I am not going to try to mention everyone that has been important to me, because I will leave someone out. I have some great memories and friends from my years in Chicago.
My wife and kids have been my rock and my strength. My wife has carried me when I wanted to quit and my kids just love me. You will learn more about them over the next 26 weeks.
Now, this next story I will tell you has affected my life for 46 years. It is a tough story to tell in writing. I have shared this story with people in person, when I felt it could help them, but if I don’t tell it, I am cheating myself and this blog on my life about why I am the person I am today. Please don’t feel sorry for me when I tell this story. I tell this story because if I help one person that reads this, then it is worth it. Well, here it goes. The situation that has affected my life probably the most is this: I was sexually abused by a male babysitter as a 10-year-old boy. Please know I am a survivor, and I will never give that person the power over me again by dwelling on the past in a negative way. I tell this story because I buried it for 26 years in my mind. I never said a word to anyone until 1992. I have to tell this story because when I finally said it in 1992, out loud to my wife first and then to my parents, my world was turned upside down, and because of my wife’s love, many friends, counseling and my faith, I became stronger and relieved and started a 20-year journey of healing. I will talk about 1992 and the business in a few weeks and the impact this had on a running business.
The other things to understand by holding something so traumatic inside for 26 years, is that it was very stressful. For years I felt I was not worthy of anything good happening to me and when it did, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I felt tarnished. I had low self esteem and was easily discouraged, fearful and a worrier. Even today many of those feelings can creep up in my mind, but I have learned to manage those feelings. I also feel guilty that I was not strong enough to stop the abuse or tell on him. I often feel I let this predator go on and hurt other kids. Then I remember my faith and the Bible. God will handle revenge and punishment.
Also, this is how I know the importance of love by family and friends. Most importantly, this confirmed for me there is a God. How else could I explain my father getting a job in Michigan and moving me away from the place that made me think about it every day and getting sick to my stomach wanting revenge? By moving away it allowed me to bury the nightmare. How else do I explain never being depressed, being able to be happy, actually burying the event until I finished college, then architecture school, get married, have a family and start a business, before ever saying what happened to me.
I also learned forgiveness. I had to be able to forgive, so I could move on with my life. I must say my forgiveness has been based on not seeing that person. I honestly can’t say I will have forgiveness, if I ever saw this person again. That is a test of my faith I pray I never have to try.
Anyway, the people I have mentioned in this writing and the traumatic event of my childhood set the ground work for telling my story of building my business. I hope this post is inspiring to anyone that has ever suffered something that you didn’t think you could recover from. I really believe I love architecture and construction so much because of my traumatic experience as a child. Every time we build a building or renovate a building, we make something new and usable for others to enjoy and, when we build it, it will last for generations. Every day when I wake up, I realize I am new and good and usable to show God’s love to others, and the spirit is in me that we never quit and things will get better in life, regardless of how dark it might seem at that time of darkness in our lives. We just have to have a desire to trust our faith, want to get through the tough time, be happy, allow others to help us, and not allow the situation to control our lives in a negative way. I choose love, happiness and joy. I hope you are enjoying this journey of my life. I am living a dream, and I am thankful every day.
Next week you will learn about my college life and the start of my career working as an architect, before I decided to go into construction for my career.
I love you all and please enjoy the pictures for this week. I am very thankful and blessed for my life.
See you next week!