MEMORIES ON MOTHER’S DAY
Every fucking Mother’s Day I think it’ll get easier and every fucking Mother’s Day I cry like a 2 year old wanting to be picked up and held in their Mother’s arms. The truth is that I’d give up a lot just to feel such comfort and the lost of a mom is something you never get over. You learn to deal but you never truly heal.
My mom passed away when I was just 7 years old and as I get older it becomes harder and harder to distinguish actual memories from memories of stories told about her. But a few are embedded in my brain and unmistakable as I remember them so vividly that I can put myself in those very moments. I remember we would walk (my mother never drove or had a car) to Cinderella Shoes (Park Heights, for my Baltimore folks) to buy me sneakers almost weekly and I remember when she got me my first pair of light up LA Gears and she almost knocked my head off because I couldn’t stop stomping around in the store. I remember we would go to the old dollar movies at Reisterstown Road Plaza and bring our own bag to get filled with popcorn. I remember watching her in disgust eat tomatoes like apples and sprinkle salt before she took each bite. I remember her washing my hair and her nails would scratch my scalp and hating every moment and I remember when I ran out of our apartment to my Grandma and Aunt’s upstairs because I couldn’t take it anymore. I remember hearing the “woof! woof!” of the Arsenio Hall show coming on and knowing that it was time for my mother to come in from work. I remember her busting down the bathroom door because I tried to act like I had to poop to avoid a spanking when that stupid teacher snitched on me, resulting in her waiting for me at the door with a belt when I got home. I remember the time I lied on Aunt Telly so my Mom had someone else babysit me and my got damn finger almost got cut off from a snowball machine accident. And oh boy, do I remember when my Mom got there to pick me up and almost fucked the whole house up before carrying me out like a superhero into a hack (Uber of the hood before Uber) to go to the hospital.
These memories all make me smile even the one when I got my ass whipped and almost lost a finger but some memories aren’t so warm and fuzzy. I remember when my Mom was always gone for days and then weeks at a time because she was in the hospital. I remember visits towards the end when she was too weak to speak. I remember using that little sponge on a stick, dipping it in a cup of water and gently wiping her lips with it to moisten her mouth. I remember saying, “I love you Mommy” and watching a tear fall out her eye as she tried to smile and say it back. I remember being excited to come home from school one day because we were going to visit her and Aunt Telly and my Godmother were waiting for me and told me we weren’t going. I remember Aunt Telly taking me instead to 7-Eleven for candy and an Slurpee (should’ve known something was awry) and telling me my mother wasn’t coming home again because her home was in now in heaven and me asking, “So are you going to be my mother now?” and watching Aunt Telly breakdown in front of me. One of my very last memories that I’m certain of comes after her passing, I remember being awaken in the middle of the night by a touch and seeing my mom sitting on the end of my bed and as I excitedly got up to hug her she she smiled at me and walked behind my door. I jumped up to go after her and nothing was behind the door, as I remember this moment I now know that was her telling me everything was going to be okay and letting me know she was good.
So now about that question I asked Aunt Telly when she told me my Mom was gone. I didn’t really get it then but Aunt Telly was certainly my second Mom on earth and unfortunately she passed away when I was 19 years old (3 months before I had my son). I often would feel guilty because of the few memories and many blurs of my Mom and the many I have of Aunt Telly, my second Mom. But it’s obviously because I had more time to make memories with her, I was older and she was also raising me along side my Mom since I can remember. Now Aunt Telly was the ultimate “Woman of the 90s”, she accomplished so much before she passed at the age of 29. She was accomplished in her career, owned 2 homes (shorty got us up out the hood and moved us to the county), and not only did she raise me but she literally took care of so many people resulting in our house never having less than 10 people living in it at a time. Speaking of 10… if you’re like me and already did the math, yes, Aunt Telly was just 10 years older than me, so yes, at 17 not only did she not blink twice about raising me but she also had a two year old and a brand new baby of her own. And you’d never know that she was as young as she was because she was the ultimate hustler and I definitely got my drive from her. To know Aunt Telly was to love her, if she fucked with you she FUCKED with you and if you fucked her over, she’d FUCK you up! “My mama was a SAVAGE, I got that shit from Telly” *Beyonce voice
I’ve learned countless lessons from her some of which she made me learn the hard way like when I was tired of living with 7,645,678 people and wanted to live with my father when I was in middle school and she told me, “okay Alicia, but I want you to know that the grass always looks greener on the other side and when you make choices in life you have to see them through”, soon as I realized what the fuck the grass part meant and wanted to come home, she reminded me of that second part. I thought she was being such a bitch at the time but I owe her so much for that lesson which helped build my character and developed principles I stand on until this very day. Even though I didn’t live with her it a few years, I basically split my time and that’s where I’d spend every weekend and all holidays. Then when I was in 11th grade, my Dad called me at work and told me he was moving to North Carolina (in the morning, as in the very next morning) so I needed to come get whatever I had at his house if I wanted it. Once again, I looked at Aunt Telly and said, “So are you going to be my mother now?”. And once again, without hesitation she resumed her position.
I can go on forever with memories of Big Mama Telly but some of the memories towards the end make me both the most proud and the saddest. When she became sick, I spent every single day with her. When she was in the hospital, I’d sleep at her beside, when she was home, I’d sleep at the foot of her bed. I’d only leave to go to work and change my clothes and when I did sleep at my house it was after she’d fallen asleep. Whatever she asked of me I did without hesitation as she’d always done for me (even when I thought spending $200 on herbal teas was a dumb idea). I remember one day helping her get herself together and taking that little sponge on a stick, putting it in water and gently wiping it across her mouth to moisten her lips. I remember moments later, her looking in the mirror and saying, I look like Linda (my Mother) did before she passed. I remember my stomach knotted and my heart broke but I smiled and said, “girl, your bald headed self is cute” and kissed her cheek. It wasn’t long after that she did pass but her presence never left me. I feel her guiding me everyday and I often reflect on the many lessons and things she’s taught me and one thing that she always told me is the one thing that gives me the most comfort with her loss and that’s, “Give me my roses while I can still smell them”, and that I did!
I may have lost two Moms but I gained two guardian Angels and for that I’m immensely grateful. So basically, I got a two up on a lot of you hoes, so there’s that! -Alicia
This is the only picture I have of all three of us together and was right before my mother passed. Aunt Telly is in the wedding dress and my mom is beside her. Clearly flash must not have been invented yet.