Mother’s Day is right around the corner and as I think about all the women in my life that have influenced the kind of mother I am, my number one teacher is my great grandmother. One of my biggest regrets is not getting a chance to tell her what she meant to me. If I got the chance to do it all over again, this is what I would want her to know:
Mama you taught me what it is to be a strong woman and to do whatever it takes to provide for your family. I remember all the days you spent out in the field growing bananas and tending to the crops. You were well into your sixties before you gave up working the land. We never wanted for anything, because you always found a way to put food on the table.
Knowing that your blood coursed through my veins allowed me to be strong when I became pregnant at twenty-four. I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to take care of a child. I wanted to wallow in self-pity, but I am a descendant of a warrior, and warriors don’t quit when they are tested.
You taught me how to stay calm when under pressure. I remember when I was seven years old and hurricane Gilbert hit Jamaica with a fury. Trees were violently swaying in the wind and I waited to be swept away with all the debris that was swirling around. I was terrified, but I trusted you. You were calm, so I became calm.
Caroline you weren’t one to mince words and always seized the opportunity to protect your family. When you felt that something was unfair, you weren’t afraid to say so. You taught me to always do what’s right, even if it wasn’t popular.
As hard as life was for you Mama, not once did I ever hear you say you wanted this or that. You were always content with what you had. Your biggest concern was that your family had their needs met. You laundered our clothes in a river by hand. You grew the food we ate, and built whatever we owned. When most people your age would be retiring to live in a gated community, you found peace in watching tropical fish swim in a small tank.
I remember feeling pity for you as you spent hours watching the fish swim from one end of the tank to the next. You had given me so much and I wanted you to see the world instead of that damn fish tank. I remember asking you why you liked to watch the fish. You chuckled and simply said “they are pretty.”
Now I understand why you were content with the fish tank. You didn’t need material things to make you happy. The hard work you invested in us led to me being the first in our family to go to college. You found joy in practicing your faith, providing for your family, and being of good character. You lived the life you wanted and was content with watching fish swim because the seeds you sowed for our success were blossoming.
Mama, despite the years and distance that separated us, you have always been close to my heart. Thank you so much for all that you have taught me. Above all, thank you for showing me how to be the mother my children need.