Some people have a fear of growing old. Some people die young. Those who fear growing old, methinks they wouldn’t want the alternative, dying young. Dying young shortens the timeline to fulfill dreams, to see the world, to see your children grow, to see your legacy realized. The theme of immortality plays on the fear of growing old, of not growing old, to be forever young. Dying young, you are forever young. Mommy was forty-four when she died, so young, but she lives on in my sisters, and in our hearts and minds (memories). In my mind, she is forever young.
Mommy was the youngest of her siblings. When she was a teenager, she was already an aunt. My older cousins have told me that Mommy was the cool aunt. She was their chaperone, took them to the West Indian Day Parade in Harlem, before it moved to Brooklyn in 1964, the year my sister Wanda was born. (Here it is important to note that both of my mother’s parents were born in Barbados.)
Earlier today Wanda reminded us of a memory. Mommy was taking all of us to the circus. (Wanda said Mommy had her hands full when we were all together.) My brother and I, if we saw something funny, it didn’t matter where we were, on the train, or in church, we would laugh, and I would avoid Mommy’s fingers that would pinch me. When my sisters saw a comedic moment in the making, they would not look at their brothers, because they knew we would laugh, and make them laugh. Later, my brother, “Whitney, not Houston,” would keep us laughing. We miss his giving spirit, but we mostly miss the laughter he brought into our lives.
Mothers not only bring their children into this world, but they give us something else: the wisdom of Mother Wit. I remember things my mother said, but one thing stuck with me more than others. Mommy highly valued education. She said, when you are educated, you have something that no one can take away from you. I liked that idea. To this day, that recording plays in my mind, and I’m a lifelong learner. Mommy also loved reading, and two of my sisters and I, we say we got Mommy’s reading gene. We absolutely love reading. My love of reading led me to writing, and I think my mother would be proud that her firstborn son is an award-winning writer. My first book, Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass: Remembrance of Things Past and Present, is dedicated to Mommy.
In my dedication in Black Shadows, I quote Proverbs 31: “Her children rise up and call her happy.” I think she was happy with us.