I know that you are wondering who the gorgeous specimen is in the vintage photograph above. She is a “looker; a vision” as the guys say. I agree! Back in the day, she could stop traffic in the street with a turning of heads to glance her Coca Cola figure. Tantamount to her external physical glamour, she is exceptionally beautiful inside. Her treatment of others is extraordinary respectful.
I know her attributes all too well. She is my Mother. The month of September brought golden colored leaves falling from the trees, a brisk chillness in the air, gray dreary skies, and the momentous birthday of my Mother, Miss Phoebe. Having three children, my Mother is affectionately referred to by her off springs as Madear, Mom, and Momma respectively. Her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren collectively call her Big Momma and Grandma. With so many names, this amazing matriarch lovingly answers with a politeness, warmth, devoted spirit and sincerity that only she can bring.
Sixty years, I have been in her life and she has never failed me or let me down! It has been a challenging ride though. My coming of age matriculation was quite memorable and eventful. A strict and very structured Mother, there were days that my frustrations with her policies consumed my soul. As a young girl, I remember writing a serious note to her in the mud. I used as my pencil a big branch from the Mulberry tree in our yard. I dug my letters deep into the soil. My note read, “I can’t stand you Momma for not letting me play outside in the rain. It is so unfair!” The rain washed my dirt note away before my Momma could see it. In hindsight, that was perhaps a good thing. Had she read it, she would have perhaps punished me for my childish inscription and sassiness. The audacity of me to question her rules! Almost every day she gleefully reminded her off springs, “I am the only boss in this house!”
In my opinion, her daily and weekly chores posed immeasurable hardships. Waxing the linoleum rugs on your knees until she could see her face; polishing the furniture to withstand her white glove test; cooking full course meals with her being the sole tasting judge; and washing / drying the dishes with a smiley face were some of her arduous assignments. She made you earned your keep. “A little hard work doesn’t hurt anybody,” was her motto. Of course, she didn’t stop there! Her supervision continued with an invasion into your personal life. Her “no talking to anyone but her” until your homework was completed was a bit much. When she conjured up the old fashioned “dating every other weekend” rule when my friends had date nights every weekend, I was enraged; it took me “over the edge.” What was she thinking?
Although America is a country with free speech, if you knew what was good for you, you plead the “fifth.” You dare not voice your opinions on her rules. Imagine that! It was something about her eyes (her keen fierce X-ray look that saw every bone in your body); that put the fear of the almighty God in you. Expressing frustration of any type was not vogue or encouraged. Children stayed in their place in Miss Phoebe’s house. My Mother managed to somehow get into your head as she always knew what you were thinking. She was a mind reader or a psychic. Incredible, isn’t it! “I brought you in this world and I will take you out” was one of her favorite expressions. Momma can make you rock in your boots, then and now! She doesn’t take “no mess.”
What you are about to read next reflects my age and maturity. The older I became, the more I understood her; the more I valued her. I even realized how smart she really was. Originally, particularly in my teenage years, I thought I knew more than my ostensibly old fashioned Mother. Now, I seek and depend on her for guidance and advice. She is always there to speak the truth. A couple of weeks ago, I was nervous about an upcoming testimony. I called Momma; she would put my mind at ease. With a hearing impairment as she approaches her 90 year mark, Momma didn’t hear her phone. I became extremely nervous! In the interim, my daughter called. Although she thinks I am the Rock of Gibraltar, she heard me in a girlish and weakened monotone voice echo the primitive words, “I need my Momma!” I did! About 30 minutes later, I talked to Momma. Her sedative soothing voice calmed my spirit; her words gave me serenity. “Before you speak, ask Jesus to put the right words in your mouth. He will guide you. You just have to ask him,” was my Momma advice. She always has the right answers.
My children routinely asked me, “Mommy, how do you know so much?” The answer lies partly with my Mother’s wisdom. She has been my “go to person” for six decades. How could I not be knowledgeable and enriched?
So this September, I say Happy Birthday Momma! Thank you for life, your strict upbringing (that I didn’t appreciate until I had children), your advice, and your ever present love and devotion. Today, I can float on a cloud because truly “you are the wind beneath my wings.” Bless you my dear Mother!