By Stephon Johnson
The Caregivers is a unique series focused on the challenges and triumphs of caregiving. These stories have been created through a strategic partnership between AARP and Word In Black.
If one were to ask Angela Crayton what she cared about the most when it came to her own children it would be “hard work and determination.”
But she also wants them to be individuals.
Crayton, 57, lived in New York City for decades before she decided she needed a slower-paced life and moved to Georgia a decade ago. During that time, she’s watched both her son, Daquon Williams, 33, and her daughter, Kenisha Johnson, 32, welcome children of their own. While they live in different places, Crayton lends an ear and a hand to her children and grandchildren.
“My grandchildren live in 3 different states, but I make video calls at least twice a week to each and everyone of them,” said Crayton. “Each one receives a special birthday gift every year at least two weeks before their birthday. When any of them are having any issues I make personal calls to them to have one-on-one conversation about life and what we can do to solve the issue.”
Williams has witnessed his mother bring joy to her grandkids, and said it brings him joy and makes him grateful.
“My mother has gone out of her way to do what she can for her grandchildren,” said Williams. “No matter what it is, even if it’s her last cent, she does what she can for them. She brings joy, comfort, love and happiness to them all.”
Through Williams, she’s passed down not only love, hard work and determination but also lead by example. The lessons have stuck with Williams.
“Growing up, I never got the typical whippings that people talk about, so I don’t whip my kids,” Williams said. “I was always told to speak and express how I feel without having to worry about being reprimanded for my emotions. That’s how I raise my kids as well.”
Crayton did not engage in corporeal punishment. Before it became the topic du jour, she understood that physical harm wasn’t the way to go. She encouraged a healthy environment.
“My way of disciplining was to take things away, spankings was not really part of my household,” Crayton said. “I tried to lead by example by always working and letting my children see me trying to better myself. As a grandparent I am continuing to lead by example. I have returned to school to further my education. I want my grandchildren, just like my children, to know that anything is possible with hard work and determination.”
Crayton’s also decided to go back to school, while working a desk job, to better herself. Recently, Crayton was part of a ceremony where she became a member of the Delta Mu Delta Honor Society, a business honor society recognizing academic excellence – further examples of hard work and determination.
Crayton said that she loves her kids and grandkids unconditionally. She said she’ll be right there if they need her, and she’s expressed her joy out of seeing how things have turned out.
“I am very proud of them, and continuously tell them,” said Crayton. “I am also proud of how engaged and loving that they are with their children. They know they are their children’s first teacher and have taken this job very seriously.”