A MOTHER’S LOVE

https://sisterinabrotherhoodcom.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/a-mothers-love.docx

FROM THE AGE OF FIVE, I KNEW THAT MY LIFE WOULD GET BETTER. LOOKING BACK NOW, I FIND IT MIRACULOUS THAT I NOT ONLY SURVIVED, BUT HAVE FOUND GREAT HAPPINESS AND LOVE DESPITE MY BACKGROUND.

I WAS BORN IN A SMALL TOWN IN RURAL OHIO TO PARENTS WHO NOT ONLY WERE VERY POOR, BUT HAD ALSO ENDURED A LOVELESS MARRIAGE. WE LIVED IN A TINY HOUSE WITHOUT INDOOR PLUMBING. MY MOTHER KEPT A POT HIDDEN BEHIND A CURTAIN FOR US TO RELIEVE OURSELVES IN SEMI- PRIVACY. WHEN OUR PRIMATIVE TOILET WAS FULL, SHE HAD THE ARDUOUS TASK OF CARRYING IT TO THE OUTHOUSE TO EMPTY, REGARDLESS OF THE WEATHER.

I CLEARLY REMEMBER BATHTIME, WHICH CONSISTED OF NOTHING MORE THAN A STEEL WASHTUB FILLED WITH HOT WATER THAT MOM HAD HEATED UP ON THE STOVE. THERE WERE PLENTY OF TIMESWHEN ALL WE HAD FOR DINNER WAS BREAD AND MILK. ONE GOOD THING WAS THAT MY AUNT NOLA AND UNCLE RALPH WORKED IN MY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. HE WAS THE JANITOR AND SHE WAS THE COOK, SO THEY MADE SURE THAT MY BELLY WAS FULL WHENEVER I WAS IN SCHOOL. AUNT NOLA WOULD SNEAK LEFTOVERS OUT OF THE CAFETERIA AND BRING THEM OVER TO OUR HOUSE, ALONG WITH HER DELICIOUS HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES..

GOING TO SCHOOL WAS EXTREMELY TOUGH FOR ME BECAUSE I NEVER FELT GOOD ENOUGH. I WAS NOT ONLY POOR, BUT TALL AND DARK SKINNED TOO. MY AMERICAN INDIAN HERITAGE DID NOT SERVE ME WELL AT THE TIME. IT SEEMED TO ME THAT ALL OF MY CLASSMATES WERE CUT FROM THE SAME BLOND-HAIRED, BLUE-EYED MOLD. THEY TAUNTED CONSTANTLY BY CALLING ME “POCOHANTAS.” THEY ALSO CALLED MY OLDER BROTHER GARY, “SQUAWMAN.” IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE EVEN TODAY AT AGE FORTY NINE THAT HAS REMAINED HIS NICKNAME, ALL SIX FEET EIGHT INCHES OF HIM.

DESPITE MY DISMAL SURROUNDINGS, I KNEW THAT LIFE HELD MANY WONDERFUL SURPRISES FOR ME. I RECALL THAT MY LOVE OF BOOKS AND MUSIC BECAME APPARENT AT AROUND AGE FOUR. SOME OF MY FONDEST MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD ARE OF MY MOTHER LISTENING TO THE RADIO AND SINGING ALONG WHILE SHE IRONED CLOTHES. SHE’S A VERY TALENTED WOMAN WITH A HEART OF PURE GOLD. SHE WAS BORN POOR, LIVED IN POVERTY HER ENTIRE LIFE, AND IS VERY MUCH A PRODUCT OF HER GENERATION. QUITE A FEW WOMEN HER AGE WHO GREW UP DURING THE DEPRESSION SACRIFICED THEIR DREAMS FOR THOSE OF THEIR HUSBANDS AND CHILDREN.

WHEN IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT I WAS GIFTED WITH AN EAR FOR MUSIC, MY PARENTS SCRAPED TOGETHER TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS FOR AN OLD PIANO THAT WAS ON ITS WAY TO THE DUMP. MY MOM WOULD TURN ON THE RADIO, SING ALONG, THEN ASK ME IF I COULD PLAY THE SONGS BACK TO HER. I PROCEEDED TO DO JUST THAT, WITH FAVORITES BEING, “HELLO DOLLY,” “RED ROSES FOR A BLUE LADY,” AND “WABASH CANNONBALL.”

I LOVED TO READ BOOKS AND WOULD DEVOUR ANYTHING THAT I COULD GET MY HANDS ON. READING STIRRED MY IMAGINATION, AND IT ALLOWED ME PASSAGE TO FARAWAY PLACES WHERE MAGICAL THINGS COULD HAPPEN, AND WHERE ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE.

MY MOTHER ALWAYS ENCOURAGED ME TO STRIVE FOR WHATEVER MY HEART DESIRED. BUT AS TIME WENT ON, SHE KNEW I WAS RESTLESS, AND NOTHING GOOD WOULD EVER COME TO ME BY STAYING IN THAT SMALL PREJUDICIAL TOWN.

MY DAD USED TO PACK UP ALL OF OUR BELONGINGS, AND THEN WE WOULD HEAD SOUTH TO FLORIDA WHERE HE COULD FIND WORK AS A BRICK MASON. WE WOULD STAY WITH MY OLDER SISTER LINDA AND HER HUSBAND CHARLIE UNTIL WE FOUND A CHEAP PLACE OF OUR OWN TO LIVE, USUALLY A TRAILER. THIS BECAME A YEARLY RITUAL STARTING WHEN I WAS ABOUT ELEVEN YEARS OLD. SINCE I ADORED BOTH MY SISTER AND HER HUSBAND, FLORIDA SEEMED LIKE THE PROMISED LAND TO ME. I DIDN’T OBJECT TO TRAVELING DOWN; BUT LIKE CLOCKWORK, MY DAD WOULD COME HOME FROM WORK ONE DAY TIRED AS WELL AS FRUSTRATED, TELLING US TO START PACKING BECAUSE WE WERE MOVING BACK TO OHIO, WHERE HE COULD MAKE MORE MONEY. I WAS SO FURIOUS WHEN REMOVED FROM SCHOOL JUST WHEN I STARTED TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT THAT’S LIFE WHEN YOU’RE A CHILD. I NEVER FELT LIKE AN OUTCAST IN FLORIDA BECAUSE THERE WERE SO MANY NATIONALITIES OF CHILDREN, MANY WITH DARKER SKIN THAN MINE. I WOULD SOB THE ENTIRE WAY BACK TO OHIO. I WROTE DESPARATE POEMS AND LETTERS TO MY SISTER EXPRESSING MY SORROW, WHICH OF COURSE, BROKE HER HEART.

FINALLY DURING ONE OF OUR YEARLY TRIPS SOUTH, MY SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW PERSUADED MY PARENTS TO LET THEM COME MY LEGAL GUARDIANS. THEN I COULD LIVE WITH THEM AND GO TO SCHOOL. I WAS ONLY THIRTEEN YEARS OLD, AND MY LIFE WAS FOREVER CHANGED. I NOW REALIZE THE UNSELFISH LOVE THAT MY MOTHER HAD FOR ME. IN ORDER THAT I MIGHT HAVE A BETTER FUTURE, SHE GAVE UP HER YOUNGEST DAUGHTER. I AM POSITIVE THAT SHE SPENT MANY SLEEPLESS NIGHTS BECAUSE OF HER DECISION. THE LITTLE INDIAN GIRL WHO NEVER SMILED, GREW UP HAPPY, WITH A RENEWED ZEST FOR LIVING.

I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO MY MOTHER FOR HER UNSELFISH LOVE.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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