This time of year is always very interesting to me. I was asked a few days ago “How do I feel around Mother’s Day”? My response to the question was “While I embrace and honor the day I do not really feel sad at all”. The unfortunate thing is that my mother passed away before I got to know her. I have no memories of her being in my life. However, I know that she was with me for the first two years.
As I thought about the question more the following days, I decided that I would ask my siblings who are older and all have memories of our mother the same question. I am sure it must be more difficult for them in varying degrees. Our mother was only twenty-nine years old when she passed away, leaving behind a husband and five children. My siblings were 12, 10, 8 and 6 when our mother died after having surgery due to myasthenia gravis an autoimmune disease which was effecting her thyroid at the time. This was in 1962 and the medical community was not as advanced in the knowledge of MG back then as they are now.
While I have always felt, and still do so today, an emptiness due to not having my mother in my life I am not saddened by it. My father, maternal grandmother (Big Mama), aunts and uncles did the best they knew how to by stepping in the gap that now existed in the lives of me and my siblings. Everyone did the best they could for us. My father’s sister (Muff) was cosmetologist and would do my sister’s hair. No one and I mean NO ONE was allowed to do their hair. If they did there was hell to pay. Now my father passed away in 1996 (34 years after my mother) but he never remarried. I am TRULY grateful for all the love that they showered on us (especially Big Mama). When my mother – her daughter--passed away she quit her job to take care of me because I was not school age. These were the days before pre-school. All of my siblings were in school. I lived with her from Sunday – Friday evening. On Friday my dad would come to pick me up and off to McDonald’s we would go with my siblings. It was a Friday ritual. We all attended the same church (Truelight Baptist Church) so I got to be up under Big Mama during Sunday service. There was nothing like the comfort of being with Big Mama. My earliest memory is me laying my head on her lap in church as a child. She was stern, wise and very loving. As I think back to those days of living with her I remember her cooking. Big Mama could THROW DOWN in kitchen. I can remember falling in love with her greens and those potato rolls….LORD HAVE MERCY. Oh and I can’t forget the pound cake!!!! I am sure that is why I am so in love with soul food as an adult.
As me and my siblings got older we would go visit Big Mama a minimum of once a week. I remember us walking from our house to Big Mama’s. Now it was not around the corner or down the street. It was a bit of a hike but it was not a problem because the destination was worth it. We knew that Big Mama would welcome us with open arms and fill our bellies. There was no coming into her house without eating especially on Sunday. When you walked in she would ask if you were hungry and it was disrespectful to turn down a meal. She would get in that kitchen and whip something together in no time flat. It seemed as if she would make those homemade rolls in the blink of an eye. To this day I don’t know how she did it. When my mom passed away Big Mama quit her job to take care of me. From what I have been told is that Big Mama and my mom were very close. She took my mom’s passing very hard.Growing up I felt so special for I was the only one of my siblings to get her attention five days a week (yes I was spoiled….very….but not rotten for Big Mama was not having that). I don’t ever remember getting a "whooping"…not because she didn’t believe in it. She would go to that closet and get that ironing cord and your butt would be sore for a week. I loved Big Mama for she brought something to my life and my development as an adult that I know is special. She was the best mother I could have had in the absence of my biological mom.