Without any hesitation I can say that the most influential person in my life was my mother. My mom is dead now some ten years, but there is not a day goes by that I do not see her in me or hear the words that she said to me. I often quote her when I am writing, because I know of no other person quite like her.
My mother was a strict disciplinarian, who always kept a promise of punishment, but was just as faithful when it was time to reward for good behaviour or deed. The lady was divorced with three children to raise and she did not like to repeat herself. My mother’s name was Vivian Rose Sealey and she was, 5′ 2” tall, 125 pounds of West Indian decent, fearless as a tiger and possessing a temperament of her birth sign the scorpion and the venom in her stinger was legendary. My mother could make you feel like you were on the top of the world with a word or a phrase, or could make you feel ashamed and small in a single sentence or a well placed look or frown.
My mother would protect us her children from anyone, or anything, like a grizzly bear mother protecting her cubs, with a ferocity that was not soon forgotten. All that I know about respect, respecting people and respecting yourself, I learned from my mom. It took me a long time to put it into practice, but I have always known how. All that I know about protecting the family I learned from my mom. A grown man slapped me once, for pushing his daughter who had called me the big “N” when I was not yet a teenager and she went right at him and then had him arrested, followed it through to the end of the legal process which got him a fine, just to make sure that he didn’t do it again to anyone else. When the judge asked her if she was satisfied with the verdict my mom said, “I do not want him to go to jail, he is a good man, his family needs him and he was defending his little girl. I just want him to understand that he is not in Italy and can not go around hitting children. He must come to me if they are my children, or call the police”.
My mother told me that I should never hit for a name especially when it did not mean anything to me. My mom told me that she did not give birth to any, “Ns” so I had no reason to be hurt or angry. Mom said, “In your life son people will say many things to hurt you, but you must not strike out in anger, or you will end up in a cage called prison. Learn to talk, use your head instead of your fist. Every friend you make out of an enemy is an enemy you will never have to face again and good boys and real men never hit girls or women”. When one of us was in a fight we were taught to all come home with a bloody nose, or all of us win the day, but no one left a family member to face a beating alone.
All that I learned about being a good friend I also learned from my mom, so as you must be starting to realise she meant the world to me and I miss her a whole bunch. I remember a friend of hers asking for $50 and I wanting a trumpet that cost $50. My mom gave the $50 to her girlfriend instead of me and I was so hurt. I asked my mom why she gave the money to the lady instead of me and what the lady needed it for anyway? My mom said that the lady had been her friend for over 40 years and she had not asked her what her need for it was, but that the simple fact that her friend had asked for it was indication that she was in desperate need of it, unlike me who could wait for a trumpet.
My mom said that true friends trusted one another and did not make a difficult situation more difficult by asking probing, embarrassing questions of friends in need, but just helped them if they could. It was in this spirit that her friend got what I did not know for many years was my mom’s last $50 and I got a lesson in life. As it was with most things my mom tried to teach me, it would be a long time before I understood them and put them into practice in my own life, but they would be forever entrenched in my soul and forever etched on my brain.
This lady never quit and did not like it when her children did it so we were pushed and prodded along to be our best in all that we attempted whether it be in sport, music, education and just living day-to-day. We were taught never to say we can’t and always say yes we can. I never understood what my mother wanted of me back then and so I fought her and called it seeking my independence. I became angry, frustrated at my efforts to go the wrong way, when they did not give me the praise and rewards that I craved and at 14 years old decided to leave the influence of my mother’s house. I took other paths which I see now were just a way to lash out and blame others for the lack of commitment and understanding of what it took to attain certain goals. I never finished anything and I always looked for the short cut, but I was never satisfied, because I knew that I was not being the best that I coud be. I was too stubborn to go home, but it did not take me long to realise that the only reason I had left my mother’s home was to get away from the shame I felt every time I hurt her on purpose.
My mom stuck with me through my druggie days, my bouts with alcoholism, gambling addiction, pimping, drug selling and money collection days. I always had a house to return to when times got too tough, a hot meal and a chance to talk things out. I only understood what my mom wanted for me when I woke up one day, a man with children and still doing dumb things. My mom had been diagnosed with cancer and given 5 years to live. I watched her fight the cancer for 5 years never giving up, always trying to get us children to do the right things and I knew all the things she had to tried to show me in so many different ways were attempts to make me a better human being.
We held a grand party for her so she could and we could remember the good times and for one day put aside what we all knew was coming, her death. We invited all of her closet friends and all of her family. We told her in all ways that we knew just how much we loved her. We ate our full, drank and made a lot of grand toasts. We took pictures and videos and danced the night away. I have posted a link to youtube where you can see her dancing at the last party and get a sense of just who my mother was. Weak and hardly able to breath without choking she was still the belle of the ball to me and the most beautiful person in the room both inside and outwardly.
A week before she died we talked and I finally understood all that she had tried and succeeded to give me of her wisdom. I knew that all that she had given me was important and that very soon I would lose the person who had been the biggest and strongest influence in my life and that as long as I lived she would never be dead and she would live on in my children, because all that she was, had been added to me and through me to them. I will forever be in her debt and she will be forever in my heart.
- Remembering A Promise I Made To My Granddaughter (archemdis.wordpress.com)