08 May 2011

Memories Of My Mother: Thelma Robinson Jeffries

Your Mother Is Always With You
Your mother is always with you...
She's the whisper of the leaves
as you walk down the street.
She's the smell of bleach in
your freshly laundered socks.
She's the cool hand on your
brow when you're not well.
Your mother lives inside
your laughter. She's crystallized
in every tear drop...
She's the place you came from,
your first home.. She's the map you
follow with every step that you take.
She's your first love and your first heart
break....and nothing on earth can separate you.
Not time, Not space...
Not even death....
will ever separate you
from your mother....You carry her inside of you....

Sherry Martin

It's been many years now since the passing of my mother.  She was a young 42 when she died of cancer. One of my few surviving aunts sent this picture and called to tell me that they found it in one of the old albums in the attic.  This was taken in the early 60's and I hadn't quite reached the age where I would find the suits and hats rather passé.  As daughters we want to emulate our mothers and aunts.  I thought they were attractive and "sharp".  In fact, I thought I was "cool" sporting my shades.  We were standing in front of Aenon Baptist Church in my hometown, Rochester, N.Y..  From my left to right, Aunt Dorothy, Mama and Aunt Serena coaxed me to join them and I'm so glad that I did.  Viewing this picture again took me back to a time of teenage angst and ongoing conflict with my mother.  You see, she wouldn't let me date until I was that magical age of 16.  I was at that time so in love, in fact he was my first love and like most teens--you think you are just going to die if you can't be with the one you love. A two year wait was too much to bear at that time.  A lot of moodiness and sulking behavior dominated that period. 

Parenting is difficult and usually we follow the guidelines of our forebearers and in some cases there's no effort to consider the changing times and social mores.  There were no mother-- daughter talks like I had with mine when they were navigating those teen years.  My mother adhered to the  "do as I say or else" mindset and that's how she and my step-father "ruled" our household.  

It's rather bittersweet that I became closer to my mother as a young adult and just when I was getting to know her and really appreciate all that she had done to get me to that point; she was stricken with terminal cancer.  The lesson was well learned and I kept the teachings that were beneficial and discarded the ones that I felt would hinder the bonding and closeness that I so wanted to have with my daughters.  Mission accomplished and successful. Their loving father was also instrumental in the latter. :-)

Mama I miss you and you would be so proud of your granddaughters.  There are so many things I would have discussed with you and although our generation (baby boomers) didn't hear the endearments that we've passed on to our off springs; we knew intrinsically that you loved us.  I don't take that for granted and before I end phone conversations or hugs before they leave after a visit; "love you" is mutually expressed.   For that's the last thing they will remember is that I loved them "deeply and vastly".



Anna Renee said...

Mothers are so precious--and not for sentiment reasons always, but because they are the vessel through which we are born.
Mothers come in many personality types from "good" to "bad"--but that's because though they are precious, they are people and we all have our high and low aspects. We are human.

Carolyn Moon said...

@Anna...Thank you for that perspective. It is well received.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful picture! and wonderful poem! So true! Brings to mind that saying "when I look in the mirror, I see my mother looking back at me"

I also lost my mother to cancer. She was 58.

Carolyn Moon said...

@Desertflower..That saying rings true for a lot of daughters; even the ones who don't want to admit it. The poem is a keeper as well. I appreciate your comments and support.

KeKeMichel said...

Hey Sis,

Foremost, thank you for reading and leaving commentary on my featured blog post, "Mama's List."
I was able to leave an interesting response, and hope you will soon check it out.

Your post is almost brought tears to my eyes, especially when you talk about, "There are so many things I would have discussed with you and although our generation (baby boomers) didn't hear the endearments that we've passed on to our off springs; we knew intrinsically that you loved us." The complexity behind such human conditions is deep. It was no alternative for them. Only a very few mothers and fathers knew how to "talk WITH" their children. Most black mothers and fathers did not have that articulate capability. As a women's studies scholar and Professional Counseling grad student, I know that the issue was not the children--the the minds of the parents. I will stop at that here. But, we as children, of course, did not know that. We had to accept mama as she was. As adults, with more complex thinking we understand mama, and like you poignantly point out--we keep some of her attributes and discard others that are hindering to our own relationships. Black motherhood is a very, very complex phenomena.

Check out my part two to the article about a sister who is promoting breast health.

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