Saturday, July 16, 2005


Today is my mama's birthday.

I have two mamas. One birthed me and the other raised me, but both love me, and so as far as mamas go I have been blessed.

It is the "raised me" mama's birthday today.

I miss her. I went to her because my mama was sick having just had my brother Paul. Paul and I are 10 months apart. My "birthed me" mama was indebted to my "raised me" mama, and when it was time for me to go back home, she wouldn't give me back, and my "birthed me" mama didn't know quite how to fight for me. She had 8 of us by then, and everyone said I was better off where I was.

I went to my "raised me" mama with a "birthed me" mama shaped hole in my heart. I grieved my mama. I ached for her, and when I was big enough to walk I did so with my head down and my shoulders rounded like I wanted to be a little round ball of a girl that just bounces away. It makes me sad to think of it. And my shoulders are still rounded today.

But my "raised me" mother was good to me. I became her baby, and she treated me like I was her own. I grew up with as much love as she was capable of giving. Sometimes, folks go to thinking that they didn't get this or that when they were a child, but I got as much as she had to offer. I've learned that's pretty much how people work. You are blessed if you get as much love as it is possible for someone to give. Getting older has taught me that can be enough. It has to be really, or you'll live your life wishing for something you will never, every get back.

Let me tell you about her. Her mother was part African, part Cherokee, and part Jewish. Her father was part African and part European. She had that kind of beauty that makes it difficult to know exactly what ethnicity she was. Her hair was a fine, sable mane with a bit of a wave toward the ends, and her skin was buttermilk and cornbread golden. I use to love to comb her hair. She sit and let me do it until my attentions turned elsewhere. She was very kind.

She took in stray animals and people, and she gave everybody the same portion of her care. She was a rock, and when she got Alzheimers Disease 14 years ago, we mourned her so, even though she sat among us in a chair watching television, and asking if she can go home.

She died about 4 years ago around halloween, after the October chill left dead leaves in it's wake and we all lamented the dying of the day. And I was so mad at you, for everything I thought you should have given me to make me as strong as you were. But, I'm not mad anymore. I've learned Mama, that some things you just can't teach.

I hope you are home, Mama. I hope the arms of Jesus are holding you and that you have your mind back. I hope you get to sing Michael Jackson's songs off the Thriller album, and I hope they have books, especially Poe. I hope you have a nice reclining chair, and a cat to sit on your lap. I think of you when I am selfish and self-absorbed. You are in my daughter Aziza's face. Pinto beans, fried chicken and cornbread always invoke your memory, and I can still smell the oil of olay you spead over your face at night.

I miss you. Pray for me. Ask our Lord to make me half of the woman that you were.

Your ladybug.


slb said...

ain't *this* the truth: "You are blessed if you get as much love as it is possible for someone to give."

this was really lovely.

Natala said...

lovely.... thank you for sharing this part of yourself.

olympiada said...

Thanks for that post. It is touching. As you may or may not I have chosen to end an interracial marriage. My child's father's mother is Creole...this kind reminds me of her. And my child, well she is everything, meaning in terms of 'ethnicity'. I know how this mothering is quite different from my Italian Roman Catholic background on my mom's side. What a jump, from Italian Roman Catholic to my child's father's family. Lord have mercy. My child's father's mother had 16 children, and after the last one, asked the father to leave and raised 'em on her own!

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've ever visited this blog and what a wonderful, touching post. As a birth, but not raise mama to a ten year-old little girl, I was truly humbled and a little broken by what you said. Thank you for the honesty. Your mamas are very lucky women.

upwords said...

It's true you know. It has to be enough. Even when I'm giving what I know isn't enough, it's hard to believe, but somehow God makes it enough.

Sometimes he uses people to make it enough too.

People like you. :)

Geo said...

I hope you are home, Mama. I hope the arms of Jesus are holding you and that you have your mind back

She is, They are, She does!



Macromoments said...

Your post really grabbed my heartstrings and wouldn't let go. I wrote about my own mama in April on her birthday. She passed away last August 5th. Your writing deserves a voice, so I was thrilled when I read your latest post about a three-book contract.

God bless you as you write from your heart. You really have a gift, you know.