The conception of my life came in an untimely manner. I was due in March, around Mom’s fortieth birthday. She and Dad had nearly raised my two oldest brothers. My youngest brother was a toddler. My arrival would leave Mom with no relief of her labors anytime soon. She was discouraged.
I was born two months prematurely in January of 1959. My lungs were barely functioning. The doctors said I wouldn’t make it. God decided otherwise, because I survived.
Growing up, I could sense Mom’s sadness. I mistook this for rejection. This caused a huge wedge to form between us. As a result, I clung to my dad and brothers. Because I was the only girl, I learned self-defense at a young age. Dad would referee wrestling matches between my youngest brother and me.
“Okay, little girl, pin him,” Dad said.
Mom was fixing dinner in the kitchen, but stopped briefly to say a few syllables.
“Leon! Don’t teach her to act like a boy.” She walked into the room, wiping her hands on her apron.
“Aww, come on, Mother,” Dad crooned. He winked at me. “We’re just having a little fun.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s right. You’re teaching her to act like a boy, Leon.” She turned to go back into the kitchen.
As soon as she was gone, the match ensued. I pounced on my brother, pretending I was a lion, and he was my prey. His eyes sparkled with wonder.
“You got him now, little girl,” Dad said.
“Leon!” Mom hollered again.
Mom didn’t usually partake in activities outside of cooking and other chores around the house. She had a lot to do with four kids and my dad to take care of. Back then, women did most everything in the home—cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, sweeping. This was commonplace for the era in which I grew up.
I tried to lure Mom into playing with me many times, but she was too tired. I remember one afternoon in particular. She and I were alone in the house, and I, as usual, was going stir-crazy.
“What is it?”
“You wanna play cards with me?”
“Not right now."
She stood at the kitchen table folding laundry. I didn’t deem laundry important, so I persisted.
“Oh, come on, Mom. It doesn’t have to be cards. We could play Monopoly or Aggravation.”
Mom sighed and shook her head. “Not right now.”
“Fine." I crossed my arms.
Mom stopped folding the clothes and looked my direction. “What about Beauty Shop?”
This time, I sighed. I didn’t really want to play Beauty Shop but conceded due to my boredom.
“Oh, all right.”
After I got the hairbrush and bobby pins to transform her into a beauty queen, she sat in her flowered chair.
I climbed up on the back, sat with my legs straddled around her and my feet planted on the armrests, so I could transform my mother. No sooner had I started brushing her hair, she fell asleep.
This was why I didn’t like playing Beauty Shop. She fell asleep every time. I didn’t understand it as a child, but over the years, as I grew into womanhood, I understood it completely.
In 1996, the doctors diagnosed Mom with colon cancer. She had surgery, and soon after, numerous chemotherapy treatments. She needed help.
I quit my job to take care of her. I found myself doing the same jobs for her she had once done for me. It was grueling. I secretly resented putting my life on hold for a woman who didn’t seem to want me to begin with, yet I loved her. What I didn’t know, is God, behind the scenes, set the stage for His grand production.
One night, when I was about to turn in, a hush filled my room. I didn’t hear voices or see any bright lights, but the Holy Spirit whispered thoughts in my mind. Tears filled my eyes as I began to grasp a concept, which was previously out of my reach.
It’s not that your mom didn’t want or love you.She was just tired, as you are now. She desired to do things in her life but couldn’t, because she was taking care of you. That's why she fell asleep when you played Beauty Shop. It soothed her tired body.
I sobbed as my heart ripped. “God, forgive me.” My body trembled as I broke before the Lord. I yearned to hug my mother.
I regained my composure, got out of bed, and proceeded down the hallway. I walked softly into her room.
“Mom,” I whispered. “Are you awake?”
“Yes, honey. Turn on the light.”
I did, but I avoided direct eye contact with her. I didn’t want her to see I had been crying. I fluffed her covers as I spoke.
“I thought I’d better come in before I go to bed, Mom. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Honey,” she said softly. She raised her hand and grabbed hold of mine. She looked so serious, which made me nervous. Mom rarely acted this way. Was she going to give me a farewell goodbye?
God, you can’t take her now.
“What is it, Mom?”
Tears filled her eyes as she looked at me. For the first time, I saw her mother’s heart, through her eyes, for me.
“I know why you came.”
My thoughts raced. How could she know? I didn’t tell her. Had I blown my cover?
“I just came in to check on you, Mom. Everything’s fine.”
“That’s not what I mean. I know why God sent you. I know the reason He brought you into my life. I know why you came.”
I choked back my tears as she continued to speak.
“You’re my only daughter. The boys can’t do the things you do for me now. God knew I would need you. Look at you; you’re doing everything.”
Her lip quivered, and she broke. A lump welled up in the back of my throat. Hard as I tried to fight it, I broke, too.
I bent down and embraced my mother. I needed to hear what she had said. It released something in my soul. I knew now, my life and labors had not been in vain. I knew I was not an accident, and God had a purpose for me.
To my joy, Mom survived that crisis. That night began a new relationship between us. Love and understanding were finally etched into our hearts.
This is such a heartwarming and touching story very well-written, a beautiful and heartfelt testimony of a daughter's love to her mother. Thank you for sharing this. It will help me as a mother and a daughter.