The Pillars…A Story of Strength
Let me tell you a story about strength…the pillars of how I became who I am.
I am a daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. I am the 4th generation of legends.
Chapter I: Miss M.E.
As a kid, I sat in my rocking chair sipping from her saucer on the front porch of a small shotgun house on Willow Avenue in Southwest Birmingham with my great grandmother Adeline Logan. To some, she was Miss M.E., but to me, she was Dear. She kept me as a toddler while my parents worked. To provide for her family, she worked cleaning the homes and scrubbing the floors of the affluent families “Over the Mountain,” walking miles to ride the bus to take care of the needs of other’s families, then returning home to give her best to her own. Occasionally, a gray-haired man would come by in his nice car wearing a suit. She called him the “Insurance Man.” I later learned that she had a life insurance policy on me too! Dear would go inside, grab her little handkerchief, pull a few coins and dollars out, and give it to him. Sometimes, we spent our days watching the Chicago Cubs on WGN and General Hospital. I don’t remember what we talked about, the stories, or how she kept me fully occupied all day, every day, but that is okay. I knew I was loved, and somehow, I had the most genuine childlike understanding that Dear was the anchor of our family.
I was entering the 9th grade when she passed. At the hospital, she told me, “Take care of your mother.” I do my best to do just that.
Chapter II: Lula “Shug” Logan
I’ve frequently told the story of when I wanted to skip a business meeting and instead come home and relax for the evening. Grandma Shug said, “if you ever want to be a millionaire, you have to go to the meetings.” Grandma Shug was not a millionaire. She was, however, the best short-order cook Western Hills Mall had ever seen where she worked the Woolworth’s cafeteria. I remember sitting in the booth watching her handle orders, storing them all in her head while making Salisbury steak and the best patty melts on Earth. Being a single mother didn’t stop her either. Grandma Shug was a champion. Survival meant walking miles alone to and from work, passing through a city on the other side of the railroad tracks, where residents were not shy about their disdain of Black people…and sometimes, they acted on it. On Sundays, Grandma Shug and Dear welcomed the family over for dinner that often included the homemade yeast rolls they prepared.
I’m forever grateful that she lived long just long enough to see me, her first grandchild become a wife and mother. She was by my side, smiling so hard that her eyes squinted close, at my daughter’s baby dedication. I don’t think I could have made her prouder of me. When I’m tired or discouraged, I remember that I must be consistent and “go to my meetings.”
Chapter III: Mom / Fay Rodgers
The first entrepreneur I knew was my mother. When I was a child, my mom acquired a preschool in our neighborhood…a preschool that my brother and I attended as toddlers. She worked diligently to fill the shoes of the previous owner while simultaneously creating her own identity. I remember our entire family pitching in, cleaning, repairing, and painting spruce up the little house on Hemlock Avenue in Southwest Birmingham. My uncle drew popular cartoon characters on the walls. My brothers and I helped paint them. My mom did all of this while caring for her three children, and she made sure my dad did not have to worry while he was away working for the railroad. I realize now that when I worked daily to renovate my own office, I didn’t complain about the work because I had already seen my mother do it. I was subconsciously prepared.
My mom’s faith moved mountains. She prayed for my brothers and me daily. She did not give up when the doctors did not know how to treat my brother’s heart condition. She nursed me back to health and watched over me after I was beaten by my boyfriend. And though she was recovering from her own surgery, my mother found the strength to be by my brother’s bedside and nurse him back to health when that same heart condition caused a massive heart attack when he was only 20 years old.
I am so blessed to still have my mom here today. When her children need her, she does not hesitate. She opens her home to our families and combs my daughter’s hair to help ease the pressure on my demanding schedule. She kept each of our children during their infant and toddler years without hesitation, she travels to help my brother and his family. I am still doing my best to follow my great-grandmother’s decree to take care of my mother.
Chapter 4: Me
I’m often asked, “Who is Selena?” I pause and state what I do and who I am to other people or how I assume others see me; however, today, my birthday, as I took time to reflect on my 45 years of life, I know who I am. I am a daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of legends. My strength comes from the three pillars that came before me. I was given a charge and I accepted it. I am a champion, a conquer, a confident woman that is defining herself as a servant leader in this country. I’ve been bruised, but I got back up. I’ve had losses only to be replenished with more than I could have imagined because of my faith in God. I am a strategic thinking, purpose-driven woman because that is who I believe God has ordained me to be. I am the wife and mother of people that love me. My accolades do not define me. Instead, they glorify God. I am Selena A. Rodgers Dickerson, the big-dreaming + achieving woman of God, sneakerhead, car-loving, sports enthusiast, small business supporter/guru ready to teach at a moment’s notice, servant leader/board member, pink and green loving, Audible loving, Napoleon Hill stan wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, colleague, mentor. I am PureResilience. Honk at me if you see me riding through.
This is Selena. This is 45.
Chapter 5: A.M.D.
To be continued…The legacy lives on.
Copyright Selena A. Rodgers, March 6, 2022