While this is not one of the many personal life encounters that you will read as you explore this BLOG, this story has helped shape me into the woman that I am because it was from my mother’s heart. The words are hers and the interpretations of her actions are mine. I hope that the story will touch your heart, lessons will be learned, and the real love will be felt.
It is my understanding that my grandmother was a freshman in college when she became pregnant with my mother. After she was born, my mother lived with her grandmother. I do not know if the subject ever came up or if it was just not discussed, but the truth of my mother’s parentage was hidden from her until she was at least in high school. She believed her biological mother to be her sister. My grandmother went on to marry a man who I grew up knowing as my grandfather. Together they brought eight children into this world. At some point, my mother went to live with them to help take care of the children until their oldest child was old enough to handle the job. My mother then returned to her grandmother’s house while she was still in elementary school. ( I remember her saying that she was eight years old.)
My mother did not know the identity of her biological father until she was an adult, although the “grown folk” knew who he was. She remembers being called to the office of her high school on many occasions to talk to the principal. The principal never really had anything of importance to talk about, but she remembered the same man sitting in the visitor’s area each time. My biological grandfather knew her to be his daughter, but could not (or would not) acknowledge her as his child because of his wife and his two children. Incidentally, I am told that my mother and his daughter could pass for twins. Later on in life, my mother learned that the man would come to the school and request that the principal “send for my child so that I can look at her”.
I am not sure of the context of the conversation, but I remember my mother’s response when asked about her parents. Her response was “the buzzards laid me and the sun hatched me.” As I child, I thought it was a whimsical response. As a mother, the thought of those words brings tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine the hurt that my mother must have felt believing that her parents did not want her in their lives. I cannot even begin to fathom a parent not wanting to be a part of their children’s lives. “Children don’t ask to come here” (courtesy of Momma) and should not be subject to such a heavy burden because adults are short-sighted and shallow. And I don’t buy into the notion that parents are young, unprepared, or unable to take care of a child. They have generally nine months to grow up and get it together! But I digress . . . .
Instead of allowing her fate to harden her heart, my mother blossomed into the most caring person on the face of Earth. She never met a child that she did not love or treat like her own. She never wanted anyone to feel alone, so she was “Momma” to all the children in the family, church, and community. She loved everybody and I do mean everybody.
She did not stop with the children. Her classmates, friends, and family can testify to the size of her heart. Even pastors found consolation in her presence. She was respected in the business community and was able to get my father out of a “pickle” on more than one occasion. I realized the extent of her love when she was tragically taken from us in 2004. The funeral home had to be emptied at least three times for everyone to pay their respects at the wake. She was given a queen’s escort on the day of the funeral by the local law enforcement. Every major and minor road was blocked and manned by every level of law enforcement for the 21 miles from her house to the church and the 17 miles from the church to the cemetery. There was not even standing room only as many people could not even get inside the church to attend the funeral. The funeral home that handled the arrangements had to print additional programs for people who did not find out about the service in time, but wanted a copy of the obituary. (The local paper was printed once a week; therefore, the obituary did not appear until after the funeral.) To this day, people still tell my siblings and me how much our mother meant to them when we visit our hometown.
The greatest lesson that I have learned from my mother is that LOVE transcends all hurt and pain. I am sure that she cried many tears and suffered in silence as she grew up without her mother or father actively involved in her life, but you would never know it based on the beautiful woman into whom she blossomed. My grandfather was a U. S. Ambassador who lived well while my mother struggled. She never once interfered with the life he chose to live with his wife and children. Even when he died, she never tried to claim an inheritance. As an adult, she embraced her mother and showered her with love, time, and gifts. To my knowledge, she has never asked my grandmother to explain her actions. She treated my grandmother as if she had raised her from birth. My mother loved long and hard – the only way that she knew. She never took an instant of time for granted because “tomorrow is never promised”. She did not hold grudges, always prayed and gave to those who hurt her. Although she had been given a hard pill to swallow, my mother went above and beyond the call of duty and poured out more love than could ever be imagined.
Momma, I love and miss you more and more each day. I thank you for being an awesome example to follow. Your spirit lives within me and guides me each and every day. You set the bar, not only for mothers, but also for people in general. I am so glad that the buzzards laid you and the sun hatched you just for me . . . . and the rest of the world. Continue to rest in peace as you walk along the streets of gold.