Similar to many mothers and daughters, my mother and I had a tumultuous relationship as I grew up to put it lightly.
I can’t really pinpoint why but I know I was bad and very stubborn…fortunately she never gave up on me.
My earliest memory of an example is when we were visiting relatives in New York. The hotel where we stayed had a huge grandiose stairway with red carpeting.
As we prepared to check-out, I made up my mind I did not want to hold my mother’s hand but could manuever the steps myself. Additionally, I was carrying my own personal small suitcase…I guess that I felt I was independent.
As we approached the steps my mother reached for my hand. I jerked away and inadvertently fell down each and every one of those steps. At the bottom I had the worst headache of my life.
That incident was symbolic of our relationship until I was older, roughly after becoming a mother myself.
As I got older and wiser I began to welcome my mother’s input…ok well sometimes.
Seriously, I found she was clairvoyant. I mean the friends she didn’t like, the baby daddy she depised..she was always, never fail right.
Raising my children singlehandedly would not have been possible without, Gma Opal. Even as they became adults and in her senior years, she still cared for them. Whatever they needed, she may give them and me an earful but she would always be right there. Always, right or wrong she was there.
Furthermore, my mother was one of the strongest women I know. When my father had a sudden heart attack and died, my mother was my strong tower. I never saw her once breakdown while it took me approximately 5 years to cope with the grief.
Likewise, when she buried her son, I never saw the effects of grief. She was worried and concerned as his health began to fail but at his services she was her normal comedic self, which helped us push through.
I would be remiss, if I did not mention her cooking. My mother put the soul in soul food. Even as she reached her later days she would still put it down in the kitchen. I remember when I first moved to Tampa, I went to a soulfood restaurant. I had to call her and tell her about the (collard) greens that had stems the size of my arm. We laughed and I told her Florida doesn’t know anything about real soulfood.
Additionally, my mother was also very giving. She recently shared with me about a woman she did not know that died without insurance and her kids were on drugs. She felt sorry for the woman and donated money to help with her burial.
Speaking of money, I can hear my father joking “She is so tight she squeaks when she walks,” he’d laugh. Seriously, my mother paid her bills in advance and was probably one of the few customers that still pays their bills by check and with a stamp in 2017. Please don’t let her ask you to take something to the mailbox. She would call you everyday until you mailed the item and probably followed up to make sure the payment posted. I can’t imagine her ever paying a late fee -a strength I wish I had inherited.
She was also extremely honest and direct. If you wanted to know the truth about your weight, your hair, your outfit my mother had absolutely no filter. As the Bible says,” the truth shall set you free” and she set everyone who asked free and even some unsolicited.
I remember coming home this past fall for a business trip. I had not seen her in 3 months so I was excited. I walked in her room and the first thing she said was, “You’ve gained weight!” I thought, I missed you too!
In all, my mother worked hard and I watched as she fought and won many a fights.
Even as she fought this last fight, to us it may seem she lost but in actuality she won!
As we look at each of the lives she touched, she won!
As we look at all she achieved in 85 years from the cotton fields of Tennessee to retiring from Corporate America, she won!
As I look at the family she raised, she won!
The home she managed, she won!
The grandchildren…the cousins, the nieces and nephews, she won!
Although she may have stopped breathing on March 8, 2017, as the Bible says, “love never fails.” She won!
My mother has now received her crown for fighting a good and victorious fight.
Today I am glad, God chose her to be my mother. I will forever cherish our relationship and the seeds of wisdom she implanted in my life as well as Chris and Chardé’s.
May God comfort my family and each and every person who knew and loves my mother.
To the friend, the matriarch, the protector, the supporter, the daughter, the sister, the wife, the mother, the cousin, the aunt, the mother in-law, the grandmother, the great grandmother, the boss and my hero; may you rest in God’s peace forever more.