On this day of dead, November 1, 2022, I would like to honor my ancestors. Without their blood, I wouldn’t exist. Without their courage, I would be nothing. And as long as I am alive, I will speak their names. They will never go unfed and not remembered. I will nourish them, savor their love and my love for them and continue to tell their stories until I join them.
In the months since my brother’s death, my emotions have been a kaleidoscope, ranging from the deepest of grief to fear. My mother gave birth to three children and I am the only one left. That’s real deep isn’t it? I have no one to grieve with: most people don’t know how to deal with emotions, particularly the emotions that come with death and at times, I have felt so alone. Even with being a mother who has children living in her house.
Back in December, I learned that my brother was missing. Then he was in the hospital and then put in a nursing home. In January, I learned that he was dying and on February 10, 2020, he crossed over. Just like that. That quickly, that quietly, and with that, my brother became an ancestor.
Randy, my second oldest brother died February 7, 1994 and February 10, 2020, Larry died. Our mother died back in December of 2006 and now it’s just me. Notice I did not mention a father and I will not. At this point, it doesn’t matter but many would disagree.
My little family is gone and all I have is memories and pictures. Like the time Larry came over drunk and rowdy and my mother and I beat his ass. Or the time Randy had some Sea-Monkeys and I poured a cup of sugar in the fish bowl to see what would happened (they died naturally and he was mad as hell). Or memories of going to work with my mother during school breaks. Memories that have made an indention on my brain that I cling to. The memories that keep my people alive in spirit if not in body.
Currently, the world is experiencing a pandemic and for 2 ½ months, Chicago was under quarantine. During that time, I had nothing to do but think and grieve. And that it is what I am currently doing now and will continue to do so. Only a demon will pretend to be blowing sunshine out of their asses when deep down in their heart, they are hurting and I’m not a demon. Will I be showing my entire ass, no, but if you see me lost in thought, smiling or teary eyed, I am thinking about my people.
Christmas has lost a lot of its sparkle for me since my mother died nine years ago in the month of December. There have been times, I have literally just wanted to curl up in a corner and just weep during this season but I have to keep going. Not just for me but my children and grandson. For her too because she made an incredible come back the Christmas season of 1978. Here it goes.
Right after Thanksgiving, my mother’s heath started failing. She was lethargic and sluggish but she went to work like the soldier she was. One Friday night, she couldn’t take it anymore and her niece and my cousin Cleo took her the hospital. She drove her car on three flat tires in one of the worst winters in Chicago history and got my mother checked in at a hospital on 61st and Ellis.
While in the hospital, my mother found out that she was a diabetic and that her glucose sugar level was at 900 and if she had not come in, she would gone into a coma and probably died. That was a scary thought to my then eight-year old self because she was all I had and she was everything to me.
She was in the hospital for almost three weeks; a long time for a clingy child to be without her mother. I told myself I would not cry and I didn’t but I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to Christmas. I learned a long time ago that there was no white man in a red suit that brought me my presents and that my mother did. So I pondered what would happen if she didn’t get out on time. I wanted my mother to come home so bad but I also wanted some presents.
But she did get out and she made miracles happen! She purchased my brother Larry a silk gray shirt and slacks complete with Stacy Adams and he thought he was the shit when he put it on. She brought Randy, my other brother some skates because it was 1978 and he was about that disco life and skating at the Rink on Disco Night.
And for me? The usual collage of dolls and dishes she knew I loved. Thirty-seven years later when I look back at on my mother’s strength and perseverance, I cannot help but marvel. Damn near died, hadn’t been to work in almost a month and she managed to find money to take care of her children for Christmas. So when I am feeling low during this time, I just remember my mother and pull myself together. She was a remarkable woman.