Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Voices in the journey home: My mother; The First African American I ever met.

We are fortunate in that because of our technology we have a built in way to have conversations with a diverse group of clients that is working on rebuilding their lives. Through these conversations we have met some incredible individuals and found some amazing stories that we have been able to share.  We are proud to be able to highlight another voice that has an ability to write and a willingness to share their journey.  You first met Samuel when we shared part of his story in a video on our home page and now he will be a regular guest blog writer in our feature we like to call Voices in the journey home”.

My mother; The First African American I ever met.

"I broke her heart. I broke my mother’s heart in two and smashed it with the heel of my ungrateful boot. I kicked her with my pride when she was down while holding my hands over my ears to muffle her cry's for understanding. That sounds terrible doesn't it?

Although that didn't physically happen, it figuratively occurred and I have spent the last three years of my life struggling with piercing guilt. I have gone back and forth from forgiving myself to torturing myself for sins against my own mother.

As that old Frank Sinatra song goes “Regrets, I have a few but then again too few to mention.” This is not the case with me. I was a troubled child with a troubled mother. I felt rejected by her so I lashed out. I didn't realize how much she must have loved me until years after she had passed. Truth is when I left home without saying goodbye to her I broke her heart - she died 9 years later.

During her life this classy lady would never leave the house with her hair undone even if she had to hide it under a wig. They did that in those days. Boy, could she walk with dignity. Her head would be up so high in public you would hope that it wouldn't rain. One would have never known that she was a survivor of the brutal south and unspeakable crimes against her body and her mind.

I wish someone had given me that information, even as a little boy I would have understood.

She was an amazing African American woman. She carried herself with dignity and masked the pain of her past in public exceptionally. No one ever told me about her past until after she had died. I didn't know that she was extremely terrified of white people. I only knew she came to Washington from Tennessee for a change before I was born and that she could be cold and insensitive at times. I was a selfish teenager focused on my own pain. 

In private when she thought she was alone Mama would talk to herself out loud. It was tough for me to listen too. At that time I had to gather the reasons for her mental illness out of thin air.

If only I had known.

Why am I writing about this? I want to encourage you to cherish the people in your life no matter what. Separate each person from their behavior. Try to look behind the reasons they are behaving the way they are. Contemplate understanding.

I forgive myself. 

You may have to distance yourself but try not to lash out or strike back. Forgive the hurtful person and then for God’s sake forgive yourself." - Samuel