There is barely a day that goes by that I do not think of my mother. My mother and father met and married when she was just 17 years old. They immediately began a family while living in Mound Bayou, MS. My three sisters and my brother were each born two years apart. With the great migration north, my parents decided to move to Chicago, which is where both of their families decided to settle as well. My brother was born here in Chicago. Four years after my brother was born, I arrived to bring much joy and pleasure to all of their lives (big smile). My father and siblings endured the ultimate tragedy two years after my birth. My mother passed away at the tender age of 29 (1962). My father loved his wife dearly and never remarried. He passed away in 1996. I often wonder whether my life would have been very different if I would have gotten a chance to know my mother. When I was in grade school, I use to think that she was not dead and would show up at my school and all would be right with the world. As I got older, I had to accept that she was indeed deceased. The longing for a memory and a touch has never gone away even 48 years later. I had some serious issues with God, which have since been resolved. How could a loving God take a mother away from her children at such tender ages (12, 10, 8, 6, and 2) is a question that stayed in my heart and mind as I was growing up. I could not wrap my brain around that one for the longest time growing up. There was such conflict in what I felt and what I was being taught in relationship to God. Since I never got the opportunity to know my mother I have had to rely on my siblings to share with me what they remember about her. While it is informative it has never filled the void.
After my mother passed away, I began living with my maternal grandmother (Big Mama) five days a week because I was not of school age. I would spend Sunday through Friday evening with Big Mama for four years until I was six years old and eligible to attend school. The memories I have of my grandmother are so wonderful for she was a strong and determined woman. She was so nurturing and loving but very stern. I truly loved living and spending time her. One of my earliest memories is of me sleeping in church on my grandmother’s lap. I truly felt every bit of love she had to give me. It is a memory I hold dear to my heart. I can still see that room that she had for making quilts…WOW. When I was in the fourth grade, she crocheted me a scarf and hat. I have still have the scarf more than 40 years later a possession that makes me smile and brings back fond memories. My grandmother stepped in and made an imprint on my life that I cherish and treasure. I will never stop missing my mother’s love and touch and even the sound of her voice. However, I do have the next best thing, the memories and love of my grandmother, my mother’s mother, Big Mama.
Today, two of the most important women that have left me with things I can pinpoint and measure. My mother also gave me life and while I do not remember her I know that there are parts of her that I carry in who I have become. For example, I am told that my mother really liked shoes. I take pride in the fact that I also like shoes and have approximately 60 pair. I also honor my grandmother for providing a strong foundation and stepping in and giving me the nurture and love that I truly needed to become the man I am today.