My mama left this world 15 years ago today and it hasn’t been a day in those 15 years that I haven’t thought about her. Especially now since I’m getting older, going through perimenopause and it’s many questions I would love to ask her.
Like did she cry like a broken hearted woman one minute and then be ready to beat someone’s ass the next minute? And after crying and raging, find herself giggling madly like a teenager? Because that’s me on a regular basis and I wish she was here so we could giggle together.
Like how did she feel when she became a grandmother? Did she look at her grandchildren with so much love and awe that her heart literally jumped for joy every time she saw their faces? Because that’s how I feel about my grandson. I wish she was here to see his face because I know she would have loved him to pieces.
And how did she feel about aging as a woman in a culture that hates all women but has a particular vicious venom for older women? All these questions I can’t ask her because she’s no longer here. That reality has saddened me for 15 years. That reality has left a bitter taste in my mouth, in my heart, in my soul.
I have so much to live for. My children, my grandchild and the new one who’s scheduled to be born on my mother’s 90th birthday in May but it’s a piece of me that was lost on December 6, 2006 when she became an ancestor. And that’s okay. We live in culture that shames people for grieving if it goes beyond the allotted timeframe that’s deemed acceptable. But I don’t give a fuck. I have the right to grieve for my mother forever. And I will.
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.
In the days leading up to the anniversary of my mother’s death, I am usually filled with melancholy and dark dreary thoughts. But this year, I can smile a little bit because my mother reached out from beyond and assisted me with a problem I have been dealing with for several weeks.
I am currently enrolled in Welfare to Work, a program in which welfare recipients have to work for their monthly check and it has been frustrating to say the very least and I actually walked off from the job back in November. I knew the consequences of my actions but like the rebellious teen I used to be and who is still buried somewhere in my psyche, I said to myself, “Fuck it! I deal with that hand when it comes to me.”
So I have been waiting on pins and needles for the shit to hit the fan.I know it was stupid as hell to walk off from the only income I was receiving but damn, I do have my dignity if I don’t have anything else. I imagined my meager benefits being sliced to less than nothing and begging Peter to pay Paul and all the apostles to put some money down on the large stack of bills that is constantly accumulating and squeeze out some more Christmas presents. My son, who is nineteen understands my financial situation and was not expecting too much but my little one is just a little girl of ten and although she said understood too, I knew that she did not and how could I break her heart? Christmas has turned totally materialistic but I get a kick out of seeing the joy on her face on Christmas morning, tearing into her presents, gleefully and greedily, remembering the child I used to be.
I had almost resigned myself to not receiving a check for the month of December when I received a call from my case manager from the program. She scolded me gently about walking off when I had no income and instead of tearing into my ass like a lot of case workers would have done, she told me to go back to the job site and to come see her when I got off work. When I jokingly asked her would I receive a check for this month, she replied “Would I do you like that and Christmas is coming?”
I almost broke down and cried over the phone but I held it together. However, when I got off, I cried like a baby and remembered that tomorrow was the anniversary of my mother’s death. Although my momma was not with me physically, she was still making shit happen for her little girl. I am not the most religious person and at times have wondered about the existence of God, the Devil and all religious dogma but I do know that I received a Christmas miracle from beyond the grave. Some of the more cynical and jaded might look at my story as mere coincidence but a mother’s love for her children can break all earthly boundaries and I know that my mother reached out for me. I love you Ma.