One year ago, I begged you on FaceTime to go back on the trach. I had my daughter plead as well with you but as always you were stubborn and you wouldn’t listen.
That night I woke up in the middle of the night sat up in my bed and began to pray in the spirit – like I’d never prayed before.
I prayed and cried most of the night.
I woke up and wore a navy blue dress, your favorite color to work.
While at work my sister’s text me that you had eaten and were breathing on your own.
I shared the good news with my coworkers and gave God a silent praise.
Who would think that shortly thereafter you would pass away.
Or was it the day before that you turned for the worst? It’s all a blur now.
And why did I stay in Tampa?
Why didn’t I drive immediately back to be there?
I thought you would be healed.
I watched you fight all my life and win- I didn’t think this would be any different.
I watched you work day in and day out. I watched you overcome marital problems. I watched you raise us. I watched you overcome alcoholism. I watched you raise our children. I watched you bury your son and husband with strength. I watched as your body began to lean and you relied on a walker. I hated that thing and I am sure you did too.
I miss you so much.
I remember you telling me all you wanted to do was be able to walk to your mailbox.
I watched as you went to a trainer at the Y the last 3 years faithfully which motivated me to start going again.
I miss you more than you will ever know.
I have so much I need to confide in you, to ask you. Just pick up the phone and talk about CNN or get the run down on everybody in the family. To hear your sarcasm or your opinions…even though I often didn’t listen to your advice…just to hear it one more time.
The last 364 days have left a void only a mother can fill, only you can fill.
I tried to drink it away. I tried to shop it away. I tried to ignore it. I tried to eat it away. I even let my discernment down to have someone, anyone to confide my feelings to and sex it away.
I know to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord but it still seems surreal and it still hurts.
I just hope you know I’m sorry I was a mean moody and evil brat. And I am doing everything I can to make you proud.
I love and I miss you,
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.