Saturday, July 29, 2006

Love...In and Out of Time

April 29, 1978

It has been now 19 days since my mother left our world. I can't put into words what I feel right now...hopefully I will be able to articulate it sometime soon, and I will of course share it here. Of all the difficult circumstances in my atmosphere, the hardest to deal with is consoling my father. He and I are the only ones living in our family's house right now, so I spend the most time with him. He has just lost his best friend, wife, and soulmate of 33 years. Obviously, he is beside himself with grief. As much as I try to ease his pain, I know that nothing I do or say can get to the heart of his grief.My dad trying to act like he's in charge :)

Momma lookin' all kinds of fly

He and I have talked a lot about her recently, and I'm learning more and more about their relationship. He floored me the other day when he told me about how his life was a wreck and he was on his way to either jail or the morgue when they first met. My own heart about broke when he told me:

"Son, meeting and marrying your mother saved my life. God blessed me 100 times over by giving me the pleasure of spending the finest years of my life with that woman. So much of my life was her, and now she's gone. I don't know how I will go on...a big part of me died with her."

Family fun at Disneyland

I thought I knew what he was talking about, but I had no idea of the magnitude of his words until I sat down and thought about them. Then, yesterday morning, I was exposed to a movie that connected a lot of those words for me, and I was a crying mess for at least an hour.
Taken right before an anniversary "night out"

I was watching "Madea's Family Reunion", the movie version. While I love Tyler Perry productions for their comedy and affirming messages of blackness, for some reason this movie really hit home for me. Two scenes in particular really made an impact: the reunion scene, and the wedding scenes. When Cicely Tyson got up there and started preaching to her family about the responsibility of honoring and maintaining their heritage, I immediately thought of my mother. In many ways, she adopted that role in our family. Everybody looked to her as the glue that held our often fragmented family together. And then, when Dr. Angelou delivered that amazing poem, I was THROUGH. I thought....oh my god, THAT is what my dad was saying to me. That was the kind of love and adoration they shared. Here's the poem:

In and Out of Time by Maya Angelou

The sun has come.
The mist has gone.
We see in the distance...
our long way home.
I was always yours to have.
You were always mine.
We have loved each other in and out of time.
When the first stone looked up at the blazing sun
and the first tree struggled up from the forest floor
I had always loved you more.
You freed your braids...
gave your hair to the breeze.
It hummed like a hive of honey bees.
I reached in the mass for the sweet honey comb there....
Mmmm...God how I love your hair.
You saw me bludgeoned by circumstance.
Lost, injured, hurt by chance.
I screamed to the heavens....loudly screamed....
Trying to change our nightmares to dreams...
The sun has come.
The mist has gone.
We see in the distance our long way home.
I was always yours to have.
You were always mine.
We have loved each other in and out
in and out
in and out
of time.
A very common scene at my house

My parents did indeed love each other, in and out of time. For 33 years, they worked as a unit.
Although they could put on the gloves and go 12 rounds, I've never seen them mad at each other for longer than a day. I think the longest time they were ever apart was the 4 days my mom left to visit family in Louisiana. When my brothers and I were growing up, we couldn't play one of them off the other to get what we wanted, because they backed each other up (damnit!). Every birthday, Valentine's Day, anniversary, and Mother's/Father's Day was like seeing two teenagers in puppy love (hell, I was conceived on a Valentine's Day, to give you an idea :)). I love how they were open about their relationship. Every aspect of it was honest and real. When they were all lovey dovey, you could see (and sometimes hear) it. When they were fighting, everybody in the damn neighborhood knew it. If one of them was in pain or suffering, they shared about it openly. I've only seen them divided twice, and both times it concerned my half brother Darnell. Even in those situations, they quickly resolved their issues and reinforced their bond.
Mom and Dad with my half-brother Darnell

Even through the bad stuff, they remained united. When my dad lost his father and best friend in the span of 3 weeks, my mom was at his side. When my mom screwed up and ended up getting the household in huge credit debt, my dad didn't drag her through the mud for it...he stuck his finger at her, said a few choice words, and went down to the bank and signed for a 2nd mortgage right along with her, no questions asked. After my mom had her first mastectomy and began questioning her beauty and femininity, my dad was right there to tell her how desirable and beautiful she was. During the second mastectomy, the one she never truly recovered from, my dad was right there, through all the follow ups, nurses visits, and tears my mother shed over losing her breasts. When Dad had his ankle fusion, Mom would damn near beat his ass for trying to walk around on it. Of course, it was out of love :). And then, on March 30th, when we found out the cancer had returned, metastacized, and was terminal, he supported her 24-7. Four separate emergency room visits, over 3 weeks in the hospital, trips to the pharmacy for pain and cancer meds, caring for her every need in between the hospital stays, cooking meals, helping her bathe, bathing her when she wasn't strong enough, making her laugh despite the pain and fear of facing dad did it all. In fact, my parents slept in the same bed from the day they moved in together all the way up to my mother's last 3 days, when she was moved to my brother's vacant room and placed in a hospital bed. I'm telling you, if that ain't love, I don't know what is.
Another night out on the town.

Yeah, my mother and father shared the kind of love that few people get to experience. They were in many ways polar opposites, but together they formed a powerful union. Through love, work, patience, faith, and truth, they provided a wonderful example of how a relationship and marriage should function.

Maybe that's why I'm having such a hard time dealing with some of these men out here? I've learned, through example, to love hard. To seek out a person's soul first, see what's there, determine if it's consistent with what's in my heart and mind, and attempt to build (slowly) a substancial relationship. I can't do the whole "let's be fuck buddies first and then see if we have a connection" thing because that's not what I got at home. Don't get it twisted, my parents were by NO means asexual (see my 2nd post); however, they weren't all out sexing it up without being committed and monogamous. Their marriage was anything but superficial, so I have trouble being superficial in my love and sex life.

I hope and pray that I can get the honor of finding someone I can love as much as my parents loved each other. Because, to be honest, I doubt I could settle for anything less.


TheBlacks said...

Jammie - I'm speechless

Trent Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Trent Jackson said...


What a way to be introduced to your blog! I love your don't know how much your words can soften the load of the next person. You're dealing with the most unbareable emotion: grief. Of course that goes without being said, and there are no words to express your loss, especially the loss of your Mother.

Know that you were conceived and wrapped in love...thats important. Carry the weight of your mothers lessons in your heart and she'll forever stay with you.

Draw from her strength that she instilled in you up until the last breath to continue to live your life so that you may spread the LOVE that you were taught and nutured in.

People perish.
Love, Lessons & Memories are eternal.

Be blessed, my thoughts and prayers are with you!

Darian said...

Jammie- I just want you to know that you and your family will be in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You made me want to love my mother 10 times harder than I already do. Know that although your mothers physical presence is absent from your life she will always be with you in spirit.
I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

Be blessed,

Tay Hota said...

really beautiful, thanks for sharing

Amber said...

There are no words to truely say how beutiful. It is rare to see true blue honest Black Love and I am thankful to be able to read about your parents.

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