Healing Generations

Credit: National Compadres Network

You are sacred. You are a blessing. You have medicine to share. You can heal the world.

Imagine if every child, every person, started the day with a blessing like this. That’s how it was for young Jerry Tello, whose grandmother would tiptoe into his room in the pre-dawn hours and say prayers of protection, purpose, and healing for each family member. “My abuela knew the challenges that we — as little Brown children growing up in Compton, CA — would be facing when we walked out of the door,” Maestro Jerry said. “She wanted to make sure that we were blessed up so we could navigate our day.”

Now a grandfather himself, Maestro Jerry spends his days blessing people up. It doesn’t matter how old or how young you are, or how long you have known him. It doesn’t matter if you agree with his politics or not. If you have the privilege of meeting Maestro Jerry Tello, he will bless you up.

Kevin John Fong and Maestro Jerry Tello at the 2019 launch of his book, “Recovering Your Sacredness”

Mind you, it is a little disconcerting at first. When Maestro first blessed me up many years ago, I thought, “Who does this guy think he is? He doesn’t even know me.” I later realized that he did know me. Maestro Jerry has a gift of seeing all the way into a person, even back through the generations. He understands the hardships that our ancestors experienced and how that trauma continues to reside in our DNA, manifesting in addiction, oppression, violence, and hatred. As I spent time with Maestro, I learned that we not only inherit generational trauma, but generational strength as well. It is that strength that gives us the power to heal the world.

In his Healing Generations podcast, Maestro Jerry says,

“We are here to lift up the generations of blessings and medicines that all of us carry within our ancestral lineage. And at the same time, we must embrace and address the generational trauma and the present-day issues that we’re facing. We know that these last couple of years have been challenging, but it has given us the opportunity to reflect on what is important in our lives, and to dig deep into the medicine that is available right inside of us.”

I witnessed how Maestro Jerry brought the medicine of my lineage forth to prepare me for the passing of my mother. While they never met in-person, Mary Fong and Jerry Tello knew each other deeply. During the final months of her life, I would often be on zoom meetings and circles with Maestro while taking care of mom. She would be sitting right next to me in front of the screen, eating or dozing off while I worked. Maestro Jerry would bless her up along with everyone else in attendance. Each night as I tucked her in, mom asked if she could listen to “that young man Jerry.” I’d cue up her tablet to the Healing Generations podcast and she would close her eyes and smile.

On the morning of her 87th birthday, Maestro Jerry called my mom as she was in the midst of a painful procedure. My dad was holding her hand and cradling her, while I was helping the nurse. “Not a good time, Maestro,” I said, “can I call you later?” Then mom signaled me to place the phone by her ear. “I am hurting, Maestro,” she said. Maestro played his drum and sang her a traditional song. As the nurse and I tended to mom’s bandages, she began to breathe easily in the comfort of her husband’s arms and her friend’s tender voice.

Two weeks later, I sat down as a guest for Maestro Jerry’s podcast. We spoke about the importance of lineage, of knowing both who you are, and whose you are. We talked about navigating through tough times, confronting trauma, life lessons from hula, and still finding joy and beauty in the midst of the struggle. We talked about how important it is to bless people up — all the time — because you never know…

Maestro Jerry was pleased with the result. and said that it would be posted as his first podcast of the new year. I envisioned surprising my mom with the podcast when she would ask to hear “that young man Jerry.” But we never got to hear it. My mom died fifteen days before the podcast was released.

Credit: National Compadres Network/Healing Generations Institute

While I am mostly at peace with my mom’s passing, not listening to the podcast with her is one small regret I carry. I did however, listen to it with dad. We placed mom’s picture placed in front of us, as Dad held my hand and we shed tears. “You know, she’s right here, listening,” Dad said. I knew.

I don’t know a fraction of my mom’s story (another regret), but I do know that she was an empath, and she was in pain for most of her life. It was not only the ravages of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia — I believe she carried the generational trauma of her ancestors. She absorbed it into her tiny, mighty body, so the burden would not pass on to her children and grandchildren. With her passing, she took the trauma with her, and left the medicine.

Kevin and his mom, Mary Fong.

After mom died, her grandchildren gathered round to say goodbye. As they parted, each of them bowed three times in respect. “It was that moment,” my nephew Ryan said, “that she went from being my ‘Ghen Ghen’ to being my ancestor.” I felt her spirit in the room as she blessed up each of her grandchildren, releasing them with all that they need to thrive with a tender and compassionate heart -

You are sacred. You are a blessing. You have medicine to share. You can heal the world.

How are you going to move forward in these times?

How can you bring forth your gifts — your medicine — to heal the trauma of generations past?

A good first step would be to tune in to “that young man Jerry” and his Healing Generations podcast. Start perhaps, with “Joy in the Struggle: Ancestors’ Blessings” and my conversation with Maestro Jerry. And while you’re listening, say hi to my mom. She’ll be right there.

Find out more about Maestro Jerry Tello at his website.

Find our more about Kevin at his website.

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A cultural translator and racial healing practitioner, Kevin works to weave people and possibilities to cultivate communities of belonging — www.kahakulei.com

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Kevin John Fong

Kevin John Fong

A cultural translator and racial healing practitioner, Kevin works to weave people and possibilities to cultivate communities of belonging — www.kahakulei.com

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