Each year I never quite know what to do with myself, because I am vague about what kinds of emotions I will endure on this day. I have had some years where everything is fine. Other years the pain is intolerable. I take great care in not turning on the radio in an effort to avoid songs like The Intruders’ I’ll Always Love My Mama, Boyz II Men’s A Song For Mama or 2pac’s Dear Mama. I try to detach myself from all social media since everyone is usually showing off pictures where they are currently hugging, kissing and enjoying their mom’s presence. I am unable to do the equivalent and it makes me feel like a motherless child. Some of you lost your mom this year or in previous years, so I believe you can relate to my grief. You can understand what it is like to taste a steady flow of salt tears on Mother’s Day and other days for that matter. You feel alone as if nobody else in the world can identify with your pain, but deep down inside, you know someone out there is probably wrestling with the same feelings. Folks, there is no expiration date on grief, but it is possible to learn how to cope with the loss of a loved one. You persist in taking it each day and each year, one step at a time.
In fact, I am reminded that a woman named Anna Jarvis understood our pain. She lost her mom in 1905 and vowed at the gravesite how she would make certain people always remember the work her mother did to advance women’s rights as well as honor mothers all over. Jarvis wanted people to never forget the women who gave us life, and because of her diligent efforts to keep her promise while dealing with a death, this gave Jarvis new meaning in life. She is the woman forever recognized in history as the founder of Mother’s Day.
I have mentioned it before and so many of you can attest to how pain sometimes aids a purpose by pushing us into a divine plan. A friend of mine said his mother repetitively spoke to him about finishing college. He kept dragging his feet about it until she died. That’s when it finally hit him and he made a concerted effort to complete school and ultimately went on to earn his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate within a 7-year span.
Being the rather inquisitive soul that I am, this Virgo woman questions things often. I started listening to a song a few years ago that captured my thoughts when I did not know how. It is Lenny Kravitz’s Thinking of You, a 1998 tune he wrote for his mother, Roxie Roker, who won fame on TV’s The Jeffersons and died in 1995. I feel him pushing beyond the pain and hear his soul crying out with every word. The lyrics echo my sentiments beautifully. Plus, let's face it. How often do you get to hear someone play green Heineken bottles in the background of a soothing melody?
The record demonstrates Lenny asking his mother questions, saying stuff that I might. Like he asks her if her life is a better change, would she live her life the same or come back and rearrange? He asks her how is freedom? He wonders if she sees the sun night and day. He asks if she hears him and if she misses him like he misses her? To those of you who’ve suffered the loss of your mom, don’t you ruminate about some of these things, too? People, when your mother dies, you join a club where you would much rather deny membership.
I think about B.B. King, fighting for his life, who lost his mother when he was only 9 years old. She never got the chance to see him go from a boy to a man to a music legend, the King of the Blues. I think about Spike Lee who, while in college, lost his mom, Jacqueline Shelton Lee, an English teacher. Spike's 1994 film Crooklyn is semi-autobiographical; it makes me laugh and cry. His mother never got a chance to see her son become a renowned filmmaker or trail in her footsteps as an educator. Many of you might not know this but Spike, a 2013 recipient of the prestigious Gish Prize, earned the distinction of becoming a tenured professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts last year. I think about Amy DuBois Barnett, my former Editor-in-Chief at Ebony magazine, who lost her mother, Dr. Marguerite Ross Barnett, in 1992. Dr. Barnett made history in 1990 as the first Black woman to head a major American University, the University of Houston, and was lauded in a 1991 Ebony as a pioneer. She never got to see her only child helm the iconic publication in 2010. I think about women who were never able to have children. I think about women who lost children or a child and are now alone. I think about people who never knew their biological mother. I think about something as simple as how Lenny fought his mother tooth and nail against wearing a suit and then wearing socks while in one. Now he wears a suit like it's nobody’s business and is acting just like his mom.
Marion Christian’s much-loved song was Billie Holiday’s God Bless The Child. My love for books, movies and music come from her. My mother and I were educators and Sigma Gamma Rho sorority sisters. When I stare in the mirror now that I am older, I see her face, looking back at me. I know she is there in spirit. She was always proud of her "little G" or "Gena." Yes. I might be on my own, but I know that God continues to bless this child and all of us who no longer have our mom. One day, in due season, I hope to not despise Mother’s Day so much. Until then, I will keep listening to my adopted anthem by Lenny. Never take your mother's presence for granted, because one day she won't be around. Let her smell the roses while she is alive.
DocM.A.C. signing off. Keep the faith and always trust the process. #OnwardUpward