Author: Solae Dehvin
Before my mother got sick, she was an engineer. A Black Woman in a white male dominated industry in the early 90's breaking barriers was a beautiful thing to witness. She had big tool boxes, and drove vans while decked in Fashion Fair foundation, Chloe perfume, and crimson red nail polish. She knew tools better than your mechanic and that expertise took her around the country. But while she was thriving professionally, she would come home and fight with my father. And when I say fight, I mean blood, knives, and many times the police were called.
Chaotic was an understatement but I never saw her take a day off. As one of eleven children my mother found out quick that nothing is given so she worked constantly for everything. Even after the worst nights I still saw her get up for work as if nothing happened.
Yet she never complained not once did I hear her angry about work. She attacked the day getting up at dawn with her cup of coffee sitting at the dining room table.
I can see her now smoking her Virginia Slim cigarettes and looking out the window as she plotted her day. I wish I could ask her from my now 34-year-old perspective how the fuck she did it without going insane.
She would probably tell me like she always did when I asked her to stay home that bills had to be paid. But when the body is tired it will make you sit down even when you don't want to.
My mother was diagnosed with Lupus and many complications came. A stroke was the most severe that left her unable to work, walk, and or talk in the way she was accustomed. That crushed her and eventually she didn't have enough strength to hold my father together. He then departed leaving Momma and an eleven-year-old me all alone.
A lot of things happened during that time alone with her, but the most profound thing was witnessing her break down. I woke up one night to Momma sobbing on the phone.... this was something I had never seen.
The phone call was about me...she was begging a family member to take care of me. That she didn’t have that much longer to live.
By the time I fully woke up she was uncontrollably sobbing which didn't seem real. She was always a rock, hard, stern, and unrelenting. Seeing her cry was new territory. I calmed her down as she got off the phone by rubbing her back and telling her it would be okay. I was an optimistic child and I had no idea what I was saying. It wasn't okay and never would be....
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