Today reminded me not to forget… I am just ONE misappropriated check from poverty. The very images of poverty flush me with tears. I see faces and remember my life on 79th street in Chicago. I well up inside… because the hunger pains I endured were a form of terror I would never wish on another human being. “Poor Chic” they called me… people always pointed out how I talked and dreamed above my station.
Cashing a check in the “hood” was my least favorite thing to do. …So today when I had to cash a small random check… it brought it all back for me.
I walked up to the bullet proof glass and with my incredibly weird accent, I said… your place has been recommended to cash this check. The clerk was taken aback that I was well spoken. He looked at me because my horrible wardrobe choice in this winter season and harsh features – my outwardly appearance did not match the voice. Then he looked even more confused when he saw my kid and heard her voice… his head was really askew.
A woman walked in…. and silence just fell over everyone.
This young woman was the older version of my daughter. We all looked around as though we were in a time warp.
To break the ice, she said “your daughter is beautiful”.
“Thank you.” I said very sheepishly. I was starring into my daughter’s face. This was my daughter … but soon I would rebuke that because I felt saddened by this young girl’s reality.
She was antsy and I was taking too long. My daughter was yelling jibberish and being a novice to the check cashing procedures in Texas, I exacerbated everyone’s nerves.
Then a young guy appeared in the door.
Everyone turned around, I clutched my kid and slid my wallet into the hunting jacket I had on. Judging by the look on her face, she knew him and he was waiting for her to cash her check. He stood by her nervously. Then he left.
I felt antsy because I flashed back to 79th and Halstead. There was an art to being aware of stickup kids when you cashed your check.
Is he going to hurt my daughter?
Is she being pimped?
What the hell?
Then he came in ….
With a baby girl.
The baby had no stroller, he was carrying her in a baby carrier, by hand. There was only 1 blanket on the baby. Here I was screaming into ranty voice messages about 49 degree weather and two kids had a beautiful baby girl out in the cold with one blanket. I was humbled and saddened.
This young girl was cashing her waitressing check, she was the mother, the breadwinner, a kid …. and the spitting image of my daughter.
I finished my transaction.
I became so hurt and sad inside.
We don’t ask to come here.
I looked at that baby and I prayed that she break the cycle of poverty along with my daughter.
I turned around and gave the mother $10.00 and said… this is for the baby. I looked at the dad and said when my baby girl was born I was Blessed and people gave me everything I needed. I told him that I was passing on my Blessing to you two.
They were poor kids to me… but in that moment we were the same, we were all parents with children. In God’s eyes we were all His children.
I was cashing a check that Jesus wrote for me… to uplift me and Bless me everyday.
Okay… a lot!
Okay… it is debatable. I can see you sitting in heaven taking score. That is okay, your one line zingers and antidotes kept me out of a lot of trouble in my latter adult years (as party goers who know me refer to as THE SECOND COMING… lol).
I can hear you sassing me now…. “Second coming of what Erica… did somebody record yo’ ass doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing”. My crass and lewd tenacity to party never boded well with my momma.
Like my mom though, I am a party girl turned momma and have given birth to a new generation of woman who is smarter and intellectually moving way faster than I ever did at that age.
Like you momma, I fret over the bills and for the life of me I put more stock in everyone else than I do myself. At almost 40 you would think I would know better, but momma honestly… I am just starting to learn to live yet again. I really did fly by the seat of my pants yet I never quite figured out how to just be here on the ground.
Yes, yes… I look like you more. Now more than ever, I have an enormously fat face and your eyes. I could be your portly twin. I cut my hair short like you towards the end… but know I have my daddy’s hair. I will leave it at that.
Sitting here at the table sipping tea… I am like you most. Reflective, regretful, mourning the lost of a marriage, worried about how my daughter sees me, contemplating what means more happiness or material success.
I am the goofy flake and mom, you were my rock. I adored you to the point I idolized you… then it hurt me to watch you not even meet your own expectations. I think that is why we fought so much. Each of us had enormously high expectations of the other, yet neither one of us wanted to admit… we were neither experts or innately skilled in being humans. We didn’t know how to love each other and just be. Other humans have mastered this necessary art form.
Perhaps that is what hurt us the most… though I am relieved that we finally gave into loving each other for who we were… four weeks before your death, because those four weeks replaced a lifetime of soul crushing pain and all the shed tears. (Yes mom, like you I am a crybaby. I cry at the drop of a hat. More now that I dropped the proverbial load.)
So here I sit… loving you, as though you were sitting here with me having a cup of tea.
It has been so hard being on this planet without you, but I am doing my best with what I have… and you showed me that sometimes you make your way with nothing in your pockets but just with love and kindness in your heart.
You get the most credit for making me fabulous, you made me strong and I am so glad in the end you approved of me because it mattered more than you will ever know.
If you were here, I would jokingly say… Happy Holidays old broad. Only to solicit a scowl and perhaps an eye roll.
I love you immensely, Momma. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Unless you are suffering a hardship that has turned your heart to coal and you sacrifice lemurs as a sport…. Children should always make you thankful for life.
They used to tell me that babies are angels on earth. I did not believe that until I had my daughter. The days I used to marvel at her were many… And I still do, even now as she is very nutty 4yr old. Children represent hope, they represent everything that was beautiful and loving within you.
To watch them discover the world, it makes me thankful and grateful to be alive.
This was posted on Facebook and I could not get my breath. It was refreshing but it was powerful. Being forced into a situation where I am now a single mother, being raised by a single mother when my parents divorced at the age of 5 …. I have never seen single parent hood as the root cause of problems in America. While agree that a two parent family is best for some situations, living through a divorce has now taught me that good role models and good co-parent from mom and dad can help make single parenthood just as dynamic as a two-parent family. We are in the land of America, where with love, a great support system, good education, hard work, imagination, creative and pure moxie anything is possible. This picture lit up my heart and changed my mind about single parent hood… regardless if you are married or divorced, a parent is still a hero, an idol and a role model for greatness.
Today seemed excruciating. The world seemed to have spun lowly on it’s axis. I shutter.
..then cue the daughter.
I was sitting drink tea in the library, she comes in and suggests we use coasters. Clever girl.
Then she goes through every piece of artwork she made for me in the past year.
Each piece she made, she made with love and it was like magic having her go through each piece….
It was like music to my ears to hear…and what I made next…
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