You know what? I cry a lot now. Not boo, hoo, ugly sobbing tears; but tears that just fall. I can be looking outside, and the tears come. I can think about something that happened last week, last month or last year and I cry. It can happen anytime, anywhere. It can happen when I’m alone or in a crowded room. It’s happening now as I type this… I think about my life. The wonderful life God has blessed me with…my husband, my daughter, my family, my friends. As I’ve gotten older every breath becomes a prayer of thanksgiving. Not an elaborate prayer, but a quiet, genuine reverence for this wonderful life. A life beyond anything I could have imagined.
Like I’ve said in earlier blogs, we grew up in the projects. And, growing up in the projects, I never thought we were poor. However, I also never realized we were rich. Rich to have grown up in a community where people looked out for one another. Where neighbors were like surrogate mothers and fathers who corrected you when you were wrong but also showered you with kindness. Where teachers did much more than teach you; they nurtured you and continued the boundaries of respect that were instilled in you at home. The idea of not doing class work or talking back never crossed our minds. You knew that if you acted out in class, that same teacher would see your parents in church on Sunday and you didn’t want to pay the consequences. In our family, the consequences did not involve spankings. My parents didn’t believe in this type of punishment. However, we were told in no uncertain terms that disrespectful conduct; or showing our behinds (as my mom would say) would not be tolerated. With us, all it took was a look or a threat. And we knew that threats were the same as a promise; something we did not want to mess with.
I don’t want to make it seem as if life in the projects was perfect. It wasn’t. We had hardships and tragedies. Like when my grandmother moved in with us when she was diagnosed with cancer. Early in the diagnosis, I can remember her sitting in her chair and placing her hand on the radio as Oral Roberts, an evangelist, prayed for people to be healed. There were five kids and three adults in our 2-bedroom unit until we were approved for a three-bedroom unit two doors down. Like when the store repossessed our washer and all our Christmas presents had to go back because my parents didn’t have the money to get them out of layaway. Now, the memories of repossessions and no Christmas toys were things my mom shared with me later in life. I didn’t remember things that way. I never fully realized the impact of no washing machine because we always had clean clothes to wear. Nor did I remember a Christmas without toys. We went to Sumner, GA at Christmas to visit our grandparents; this was the best Christmas gift we could ever have. Watching my father, grandfather and other relatives slaughter hogs, a long wooden table full of beans, ham, greens, homemade cakes and pies.
See this is what I mean by being poor and not realizing it. My parents did such a wonderful job of filling our homes with such love and laughter that we never realized they were having problems.
This is why I cry. Not tears of sadness; but tears of joy as I marvel at this amazing life.
God, thank you so much for all your goodness. For making everything, the good and the bad, look beautiful when viewed through lens of love and appreciation.