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Posts Tagged ‘parents’

blue stone in water

blue stone in water in black bowl

One night a year or so ago, I entered my childhood home and walked into the kitchen.  The light was low and the air was warm.  I sat at the table with my mother, feeling welcomed as always.  Just as I did when I returned home from college, I began to tell her the stories of my daily life, the ups, the downs and all that lay in between.  I told her about the people I cared about and worried about.  I opened up a bit more than usual and began to share mistakes made and the opportunities I saw on the horizon.  I explained how I felt older, not sure about wiser,  but at least tempered by life and was looking forward to trying to apply some of the lessons learned.

blue stone in water, branches reflected

blue stone in water, branches reflected

She listened attentively, as she had always done, and on occasion, she smiled as I described some silliness of mine.  As I paused to take a deep breath, I admired how wonderful she looked, the smoothness of her caramel skin, the fullness of her brown hair reaching her proud shoulders, the strength in her arms, and the brightness of her eyes.  She was the strong woman of my youth, not the more fragile woman of my adulthood.  And yet I sat before her as an adult.

blue stone in water and branches reflected, in motion

blue stone in water and branches reflected, tilting the bowl

Still trying to catch my breath, I managed to say, “Ma, I’ve been telling you stuff that happened after you died, haven’t I?” She nodded. We stood and she pulled me into her arms.  She felt soft and warm and held me tight.  “That’s right, baby,” she said. ” And you’ve got a lot more stuff to do.  My time has passed but this isn’t your time.”  I woke up gasping for breath … which is what I had needed to do since I’d been having trouble breathing in my sleep.

rocks in water

rocks in water

I have not visited my mother’s grave, or my father’s, in well over a decade.  My main memories of the site are actually based on the stories my brother told of walking through the area with flower seeds in his pocket and letting them fall when the caretaker wasn’t looking.  I don’t know if those flowers ever bloomed but I feel like I carry them with me wherever I go, just as I carry my mother.  Or perhaps, she still carries me.

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There are times when I sit still, often in sunlight, that I am suddenly filled with a sense of gratitude.  This bright beautiful morning I am filled with gratitude toward my parents.  They were born in the 1920s and 1930s in the segregated south.  Until certain laws were passed, they had to sit in the back of buses and use separate but decidely unequal facilities.  They were spat upon — my father told me of incidents involving white kids on a school bus.  They were certainly called nigger.  They had every opportunity to let hate fill their hearts and to then pass that hate onto their children.  But they did not.

Make no mistake.  They shared their experiences with my brothers and I.  They helped us process our own experiences.  And though they may have expressed anger, they always taught us to love our fellow man.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  That is what they communicated, if not in words, than certainly by their deeds.  How grateful I am that our life journeys intertwined for so long.

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