Black History

Black History
I had no idea history was being made. I was just tired of giving up. -Rosa Parks

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Their Granny, My Mommy, Your Diva

"When and elder dies, it is as if an entire library has burned to the ground" - African saying

While this is an unfortunate reality in so many families, it wasn't the case with mine. My mother lived out loud...she kept no secrets and presented her life story as an active testimony so that others could learn and perhaps benefit from her experience(s). My mother was an avid writer. She woke each day at 5:00am and with a strong cup of black coffee in hand she wrote something...anything. She would often say that if nothing else, just one sentence would do. Those sentences turned into paragraphs, the paragraphs turned into pages, the pages turned into one of the most remarkable tales ever told. Her legacy will live forever because with great intent she told her own story, her own way, refusing to leave it up to someone on the sidelines.

In a letter written not long after I announced that I was pregnant with my first child, my mother felt the need to explain explain the reasoning behind some of the decisions she made over her lifetime. The letter was a reflection of who she was as a woman...a daughter, a friend, a wife...but more importantly who she was as a mother. The thought of her last born, preparing for her first born, prompted her thoughts: are the highlights, the exchanges on my journey, the purpose of this letter is to fill you in on the blue roads and the red ones.  The highways, and the back roads. I don't expect to protect you from life, or to alter your journey in any way.  I want to show you what worked for me, what didn't, what mistakes I made, what factors went into the decisions I made.  I want to share with you what discoveries I made, what I missed, my impressions, my beliefs...
My mother identified herself as, "a Black woman who lived through racism, inequality, struggle, segregation, and integration." She says that she, "came of age at a time to be the 'first,' unthreatened, unafraid, and unstoppable." This was her gift to me, to her granddaughters and to anyone else willing to pull up a chair and listen. My mother was a warrior on every front...she taught me how to navigate and negotiate this world we live in. She was spirit-filled and spirit-led. She was patient, loving, and insightful. My mother wouldn't let me give up; she refused my excuses. She pushed me, pulled me, nudged me...all the while being gentle, comforting and supportive. She was my scaffold. She taught me how to be a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, and a friend.

I am so blessed to have a mother like Sylvia Althea Brent Elliott. Present tense intentional, as my mother is still a very active part of my life despite her physical absence. She was taken far too soon by a rare sarcoma cancer. She was diagnosed May 23, 2005 and died 7 weeks later on July 20, 2005. My mother believed in the afterlife and as a result, she remains my rock, my anchor, my greatest advocate and cheerleader.

To learn more about my mother, take a look at the glogster created by her BIGGEST fans, Micah and Elijah

You can also view her obituary:

Read one of my favorite poems written by my mother:

Hand-Me-Down Mothering by Sylvia Elliott

           When I was a young and active mother
I was engaged every minute of the day
planning meals activities and life for my children
they did not miss very much at all
their childhoods were thoughtfully constructed
very much like my mother had constructed
my own guaranteed to enrich my life
If I had forgotten any thing of it
I get to see the rerun with my
daughter being active with
her young children
engaged in planning meals activities and life
My granddaughter standing on a stool
helping her mother make dinner
at the age of four just as her mother
helped me when she was four and I
helped my mother when I was four
I suspect my mother stood on a stool
when she was four and helped her mother too
When they were little I took them to
the circus so they would be amazed
the zoo to see the animals move and play
the movies for the thrill the theatre to see it live
to restaurants and formal dinners
so they could be served by men in
white gloves to visit relatives so they
could get to know them to visit santa 
so they would know expectation
I gave them elixir for their pain
I spanked them when they needed correction
They got to see sickness and death
I comforted them in their losses
I took them shopping for groceries to
learn the names of food and see it raw for clothes to see
the choices       I took them to school so they
would love to learn to church so they
could hear the stories
            I showed them the sun the moon
the stars and the rain so they could know God
I showed them flowers blooming and the
colors in the rainbow so they could know God more
I read them books sang them lullabies baked them cookies
made popsicles and pop corn and
snow angels
I hugged them and kissed them
And bathed them and loved them
cut out valentine hearts swam in
lakes rivers oceans and the sea
I gave them the things my mother gave to me
            But the greatest gift is to see my daughter
Give her children the things I gave to her

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