I had to get up and write this down so I would never forget it. They say that dreams are subconscious ways of your mind telling you your worries and thoughts. I am not so sure what this dream was tying to tell me but I know the message is loud and clear.
Most people who know me know that my mom had Multiple sclerosis and that she was confined to a wheelchair (she would hate that I termed it that way but let’s use the term for this story only once, okay?). Anyway, I dreamt that my mom and I were at a presidential event. Nothing fancy but there were several people there as you would imagine and of course, they sat all the people in wheelchairs together on the side. Because of where we were sitting, it was difficult to reach the president when he began shaking hands with people and before we knew it, he wished away somewhere else before we could get to him. I was very disappointed because I knew my mom wanted the opportunity to meet the first Black president but in flash, I knew that would not happen.
Since my mom had been sitting for a really long time and I was pretty sure her legs were stiffening being in the same position, I asked one of the security detail if he could allow us to got to an area away front the crowd and then show us the exit. As I am asking her if she’s okay and fixing the legs lifts on the wheelchair I say to her, “Mommy I am sorry you didn’t get a chance to meet him. I know it was important to you.”
She says to me, “Don’t worry Ky’a. You did your best. Besides, we were here and had a good time anyway. I am just worried about how we’re going to get these bags home. You going to be okay carrying all of it?”
“Yes I think so. I may need you to put a bag or two on your lap, okay?”
“Okay. I’m ready”, she says and holds her arms out to take a bag or two.
As were about to leave, the security officer who was standing there the whole time (apparently to make sure we didn’t go any place we weren’t supposed to says, “Ma’am, I need to take you through this door.”. We followed (of course he didn’t help with the bags which really ticked me off) and through the door was a room with other people standing around. I explained we were looking for the exit because my mom was really tired and as I said this the room began to empty. As soon as the people left, the president walked in towards us.
I stared because I didn’t believe it was him and needed to size up who this impostor was and my mom, who was blind, was wondering why The room had gotten so quiet.
“Ky’a, are we leaving?”
The president said to her, “Not without me getting the chance to meet you, Ms. Jackson” and he put his hand on her shoulder. Apparently someone clued him in on the fact that she couldn’t see.
“Baby, it is so good to meet you too. You doing alright?” my mom asked like she forgot she was talking to THE president. Typical mommy to asked him if he’s alright like if he said “No” she would fix it. LOL
“Yes ma’am. I am hanging in there. I just wanted to let you know that you and your daughter are examples of good in this world. People need people like you.”
Someone motioned to the president that he had to go and apparently my mom heard it (she had ear like a hawk!) so said as she stood up a little wobbly out of the wheelchair, “Your gonna be alright too, Baby. Don’t worry about those crazy people out there. You hang in there.”
“I sure will, Ms. Jackson. You take care.” And as soon as he said that, he was gone.
I am not a Barack Obama worshipper. (I am however a HUGE fan of Michelle! LOL) Nor am I a heavy duty lover of politics. I follow it periodically and get objective briefings from my brother throughout the year. I have never been to an Obama event and have never raised money for him. I am not raising money for him now. Because of this, I found it VERY odd to have a dream with him and my mom in it. (I don’t dream of her often at all.)
I do not know what my psyche is trying to tell me. Perhaps I needed a little encouragement from both him and her. I’m not sure. Whatever the dream was for, it woke me up with a smile this morning and that is a good thing. :)
I hated my last years of high school. Not because of the typical reasons….social awkwardness, identity development issues or grades. More so because I had a tremendous amount of responsibility, money was tight in my house and because I missed the old high school I was taken out of after my freshman year. At my old high school there were teachers there that I KNEW loved me like their own children and pushed me to excel despite the limited resources they were working with at the time. The adjustment was hard and I found myself, although I was very involved in a variety of school activities, very lonely.
As the years went on, although I still found it difficult to socialize with students who, in my mind didn’t appreciate all the resources they had, I did manage to attach myself to several “alternative learning” teachers. These were the teachers who worked with students who needed a little more attention in the classroom. Although I was in regular classes and a few college prep courses and did not have these teachers myself, I found their dedication astounding and quite frankly, admirable. I had known teachers like this in my old high school in Camden but I never thought I would find them here. They had a level of compassion for their students that was immeasurable. Little did I know that the compassion wasn’t just limited to the students they taught. It was for me too.
The prom was coming up and of course, because I knew my family had very limited funds, I knew there was no way I could go. However, one of the teachers at the school, Mrs. Max - a pint size dynamo with brains and attitude to match, insisted that we go look at dresses. I remember looking at dresses with her and seeing a dress I loved. Somewhere in the conversation she stated that the dress was $100 and that I could probably get my Dad to help get the dress. Unfortunately, that did not happen and telling Mrs. Max that I wouldn’t be able to go to the prom because I couldn’t get the dress was not as painful as disappointing her. We did not speak of the dress again until one day, Mrs. Max, told me we were going back to the dress shop. I asked her why we were going when I couldn’t afford the dress. In my old brain, I don’t remember her paying me any attention and just driving as though I had said nothing. When we got to the store, Mrs. Max gave me the $100 to buy the dress and quite frankly, I didn’t know what to say. I think though, in the middle of my confusion and happiness, she said something like, “Now you can go to your prom.”
I remembered this story as I checked my mail today and received a card from Mrs. Max. It was a congratulatory card to me for graduating from graduate school. When I opened the card there was a check for $100 and, I have to admit, it made me cry. I am not sure she remember the story of the prom dress. I did…and I immediately flashed back to that day when she made one of the biggest days of my life possible. You didn’t have to do what you did so many years ago and you still didn’t have to send a graduation gift but today, if I have never said it before…I thank you so VERY much. At 42 years old you are still taking care of me and that makes me feel like one very special lady.
Thanks Mrs. Max for all your love, support and encouragement. I think I will take this check, put it in the bank, and go get myself another dress. :)
So….today is my birthday. I can’t believe I am 42 years old. I remember turning 13 years old as clear as day. Turning 13 was a big deal to my mom. It was, according to her, the official beginning of the teenage years. I find myself already her today but not in a sad way. More in a nostalgic way. You see, I miss her telling me “My Birthday Story.” Ever since I was born, my mom would wake me up at 8:00 am on March 11th and tell me my story. Every important moment. From start to finish. From the moment she found out she was having me. And every year, by the time she was done the story, it would be 8:06 am. The exact time I was born. I remember when I turned 13 specifically because that was the first year I remember not really wanting to hear my story. I thought it was corny to keep telling the same story every year. At 42, I find myself wishing that she was hear to tell it to me again. But, since she is not, and you all have never heard it, it goes a a little something like this… “I remember finding out I was having you and the first person I told was your Aunt Bonnie. When I told her while sitting up in my room, she was VERY excited because she was pregnant too! We would end up having our babies 7 months apart. Every day, that I would walk down the street during my pregnancy, I would talk to you. I was sickening because I was always saying things like, “Ky’a…you and I are gonna be close. We’re gonna be friends and do all sorts of things together.”. I was so happy to be having you and from the moment I knew I was pregnant I called you, Ky’a.” When it came closer to your birth date, there was a party in the basement of my mom’s house. It was your Aunt Jitta’s birthday and I thought I would have you then. But I was able to go to the party and you didn’t show up yet. That next afternoon, as I was taking a nap next to my mother, my water broke while I was sleeping! Your grandmother said, “Antie! Get up! You about you to sleep right through this babies birth!”. Me, your grandmother and your Aunt Doris jumped in a cab that your Uncle Eddie called and began toush our way to Our Lady of Lourdes hospital. I began to cry and they all asked what was the matter. I said, “I don’t want to have the baby here. We need to get the Naval hospital!”. Your grandmother complied and we rushed over the Ben Franklin bridge, in the rain, to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. I was put in room T-7 and Ky’a, I had the worst nurse! I was crying cause I was in pain and she had the nerve to say to me, “Well, you didn’t complain while you were making it!”. Ky’a…I wanted to punch her! So, somehow your grandmother managed to complete all the paperwork needed for me to be admitted. I am not sure how because she never went to high school. But she did it. And now it was time to have you. Apparently though, something was wrong. And they sent a Red Cross message to your Dad, who was in a Navy submarine at the time. The message was that both of us were not gonna make it through the surgery. They asked him which one he wanted them to save. He told them to save me. But some Ky’a, you made it. We both made it. And at 8:06 am you were born. And the sun came out.” Thanks for the story, Mom. I still remember but I went a little long on time. Next year…I will make it to 8:06. Happy birthday….to me. :)
As I have completed this semester in graduate school and I realize that I have one more semester left before graduation, people have been asking me have I thought about what I want for a graduation present or what willI do after graduation. I am always stumped when asked what do I want because it never really crosses my mind. ( I guess it is the side effects of being a former caregiver.). I figured I should start thinking about that kind of stuff right?
So, I sat down one day and thought of all things that I would love to have as a gift and believe it or not, there weren’t many material things I wanted to HAVE but a TON of things I wanted to do as well as people I wanted to meet. The list became one that I found interesting because what was on it showed exactly how diverse my tastes were in life. Not extravagant…just diverse.
Even though the things on my list are probably NEVER going to happen,my mom used to always say that God knows the desires of your heart. If that is indeed the case, I have come up with a wish list of people I would love to meet and things I would love to do as a way to congratulate myself for the hard work it has taken to work full time and complete graduate school. Something I would never have thought I could do without my biggest cheerleader…my mother.
My Wish List
1. Meet Stevie Wonder - everyone knows that he was my mom’s favorite singer and that I have begun what I call “The Ultimate Stevie Collection”. He would have to sings or anything.I just want to tell him thank you for bringing such joy to my Mother’s life though music.
2. Get a photo with James Carville “The Ragin’ Cajun”- what can I say? I love his take-no-prisoners attitude!
3. Meet and get a photo with Joe Gibbs - as far as I am concerned, he is one of the best coaches EVER! (Next to Tony Dungy,of course! LOL)
4. Have lunch with the remaining “Little Rock Nine” - it’s probably a longshot but I would LOVE to be close to history! And yes, lunch would be on me! :)
5. Talk to Michele Obama about Multiple Sclerosis - her Dad had it,my Mom had it. I think it would be a great conversation about caregiving and loved ones.
6. Meet Busta Rhymes - ok…. Y’all weren’t expecting this huh? Well, I love Busta although I was sad to see his dreadlocks go! Meeting him would be…WooooHaaaaa! LOL
7. Have an Essence Photo Shoot - they could make me look fabulous!!!! LOL
8. Ride Amtrak with Joe Biden - he probably doesn’t do this anymore now that he is a “big cheese” but VP Biden was one of the coolest people I have met so I am sure he would go for the idea! LOL
9. Visit the cast/writers on the set of Grimm - LOVE this show! The writers are GREAT and besides, I have never been to Seattle. :)
10. Have Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Help me with my family tree - now this! This would be phenomenal! I have been working my family tree since 2000 and have found some great information but his help would be PRICELESS!
So there you have it. I don’t ask for much, do I? LOLOL. I know they are just wishes but you never know…
Recently my brother put a picture up of me at the playground during the Thanksgiving while I was in New York. It was great time as I was climbing the monkey bars (yes, at 41 years old I can still find fun in monkey bars! LOL) and I reminisced of days when I was younger. (Can you believe they got rid of the things that spins because kids were getting sick!? What big babies! LOL). Anyway, I took a look at the picture he took of me and someone from my high school posted a comment that she thought I was always funny and that “we always called her Whoopi) and all of a sudden I was thrusted back into the angry feelings I had when I was in high school.
I switched high schools whenI was young and, to put it nicely, the high school a graduated from was DRAMATICALLY different than the one I started in. Some may be surprised by what I am about to say…those close to me will not but I REALLY hated my second high school experience. It was NOT a great experience for me and when I read that comment, I remember that anger I felt most of the time.
Not offense to Whoopi Goldberg but she was not my idea of beauty or brains I the 80s. She was just funny. And it REALLY bothered me that all my fellow school mates thought I was…was funny. Somewhere in my head I always wanted to say, “Yes….we can do more than just make you laugh and play sports.” But I never did because I never knew how. I was a young person trying to find her identity and wasn’t quite sure how to do it. I spent a lot of unhappy time in high school because of this and many other things. I did know a few teachers though (who didn’t look anything like me) who would constantly tell me that I was both smart and beautiful and that I could do anything I this world. I chose to hold onto that and pushed on even though my peers just considered me “entertainment.”
I look back now and I wish I had the strength to stand up to the comments that hurt me so much when I was young. The times when people would say and do hurtful things like forgetting my name at graduation or complaining that I got a part ins play They thought I should’t have. Or even the time I had means things written my locker. (Yep…that actually happened!). People talks out bullying now…geez! I would like to think that my peers were just naive and that they have now grown up to be mature thinking adults with a little more compassion.
Now I know who I am. I know the extent people will go to try and crush a person’s self esteem. And I NEVER ALLOW IT! I know I am more than what people’s ideas of me are and I exude strength when faced with adversity and ignorance. Yes,I am still funny but I am also intelligent, beautiful, powerful, and compassionate.
I wish I could go back in time and let the young me know that one day she would be FABULOUS! :)
I have never been able to splurge on many things in my life. I come from humble beginning which I would never trade for the world. But when I was a child, I promised myself that when I was able to splurge every now and then on things I really like…I would. Nothing too crazy…eyeglasses (I will pay what I want if I really like the frame! LOL), a great massage (a good massage therapist is SO hard to find! LOL) and, believe it or not, tea.
I have been what some call a “tea snob” for years. I think it all began when I lived in Japan as a young girl and I watched how much my mother loved teas. As i got older, I began to not only love tea more but I began to appreciate the process of steaping a good pot of tea. Tea has been a pretty big part of my life and many of my friends know that a nice hot cup of jasmine tea has been extremely helpful with my graduate school homework (a Chinese food cart on Temple’s campus always had a hot cup of tea for me waiting as i ran off the train to get to class one semester!)
I bring my love of tea up because I had a bit of an annoying situation happen today as I was coming from Barnes and Noble today after doing some reading for class. I passed a place called “Premium Steap” which sells all different kinds of teas and teapot, infusers, etc. I have been in this store before on many occasions to satisfy my tea cup fetish when a cup I saw in the window appealed to me. It is an impressive store that is perfect for the quintessential tea snob. The cup in the window said “Wisdom” and I thought to myself that would be the perfect cup to drink jasmine tea out of while I am working on my thesis paper this semester. So I go in, wait for the lady behind the counter to finish helping her other customers and then once she was available to me, I told her I wanted a decaf jasmine tea. She said she did not have decaf jasmine but she had a jasmine tea that was very close to decaf. I told her that was perfect and she then began to explain to me how pricey the tea was. I said, ‘Well, what are the prices?” She said one small bag of loose jasmine tea for $14 and one large bag of loose jasmine tea for $26. Then, she went on and on about how the tea lasts a long time and that the smaller bag would probably do me just fine. I told her, “Thanks but I will take the large bag please and that cup over there that says Wisdom.”
I guess she was trying to help me out but I really didn’t understand her insistence on trying to give me the cheaper bag of tea. Perhaps, to her, I looked like someone who couldn’t afford the large bag. I am not sure. As she was ringing me up, in small talk I told her that I drink jasmine tea all the time and that it was my preferred drink for doing graduate school homework. I think she was impressed by that because she offerd me a sample if another tea. LOL
I left the store feeling…I don’t know…tired of having things like that happen to me in stores where employees make assumptions about people before they even know what they want to buy. Oh well, I guess some things never change.
In the meantime, I am just gonna sit here and enjoy my tea…
#10 - I could have prepared everyone for the technical earthquake here in Philadelphia.
#9 - I still needed time to reassure him that the iPad 3 didn’t need to have a third camera angle.
#8 - I needed more time to convince him to bring back the clear Mighty mouse back.
#7 - He still needed to replace the sneakers I wore out by standing in line all day to get my iPad 2.
#6 - I didn’t get a chance to thank him for having the iPad 2 come out on my birthday.
#5 - I still had a gripe with him about how the iPad doesn’t respond to long fingernails.
#4 - I needed more time to store my favorite MAC/PC commercials.
#3 - I got rid of my PC and hadn’t had a chance to purchase my own MAC yet.
#2 - My clear MAC cheerleader pom poms hadn’t arrived in the mail yet.
And the number one reason why Steve Jobs should have consulted me before resigning…
#1 - I hadn’t had time to buy stock in black turtlenecks and jeans yet.
Thanks for your creativity, innovation and leadership Steve. All of us Apple lovers will miss you.
Yours in “nerdism”,
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I LOVE my brother! As a big sister, from the moment he was born, it was my job to protect him, encourage him, and in some cases, torment him for fun. LOL. (Sorry about that snake skin peeling story Mike!) A recurring dream of mine as a teenager was that there would be a thunderstorm and I would be walking in it and hear my brother calling me but couldn’t find him. He would yell out to me for help and rain would be falling so hard it would be hard to see. I would tell him, “Stay there, Mike! I’m coming! It’s gonna be okay!”
Having gone through so much together as young people, my brother and I are very close and we have shared the good, the bad and the ugly. So, when he decided he wanted to be an Alpha a few years ago, I was right there to support him. I felt it would be good for him in a way because he had always been surrounded by women all his life and I knew that having “brothers” would be a new and positive thing. I did not realize at the time just how positive it would be.
Initially, I was not a fan of having to “share” my brother with anyone. He was MY brother and there was no way anyone was going to love him like I did! (Yes I know….arrogant of me, huh? LOL).
But recently, as my brother is going through some pretty tough times, I found that his “brothers” have begun to reach out to him for support. I always knew that ideally, fraternity brothers were supposed to do that but I was pleasantly surprised to see it as a reality. One fraternity brother in particular, one that my brother doesn’t even know, sent a message saying “I am my brothers keeper.”. It was one of the most wonderfully compassionate messages that I have seen in a long time.
I have always loved the men of Alpha Phi Alpha because of their strength, intelligence and compassion. I now love them because they care for my brother no matter who they are or where they’re from. I respect them for truly being “brothers” to eachother when they are in need. It almost feels like I inherited a whole network of brothers myself so I guess sharing my brother isn’t too bad. Lots of brothers for me means I am truly one protected and cared for Black woman! :) But seriously guys…don’t think this means I have to get you all birthday gifts! LOL
Thank you so much guys!
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishment the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
I spent a greater part of my life (over 20 years to be exact!) being a caregiver to my mother. She had Multiple Sclerosis and even at a young age, I slipped into the shoes of being her enforcer and advocate very well. I was sort-of her “muscle” and was pretty much the person she would “unleash” on doctors, nurses and home health aides when they were slacking on the job. (Which was most of the time! LOL) I was very good at that job and so when my mom passed away in 2006, I reluctantly hung up my proverbial caregiver coat and put away the caregiver shoes. I decided it was time for me to learn to un-ball my fists and begin to look at life as a journey and not a daily fight.
And then I got the call…
…my sister has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. I did not know anything about breast cancer. I had spent my entire life wading in the water of MS so this was new to me. As I was on the phone with my sister-in-law, Anjela, all I knew to tell her was that we were gonna get through this. That this was a battle she was NOT going to fight by herself and that I was ready!
I am not quite sure where that came from. After I got off the phone, it was almost like my caregiver jacket and shoes were ready. I slipped them on like and they fit like I had never taken them off. All of a sudden memories of doctors appointments, transportation scheduling, words of encouragement, everything…they all came flooding back and now I am ready.
Anjela this is gonna be a tough fight but guess what? WE GOT THIS!!!