UPDATE: The winner is…Katherine Anderson!
This month on May 26th, my mother turned 92. As I thought about an African-American woman I wanted to honor in my post this month, Catherine Louise Williams Taylor Phillips came to my mind.
Lately, I’ve been asking her questions from a book/journal called My Mother’s Life: Mom I Want To Know Everything About You. I speak to her every morning and after our check-in ritual, I ask her if she’s ready for the question of the day. She says yes, answers what she can recall then shares anecdotes that have nothing to do with the question. That’s my momma.
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the turn of the 20th-centuryth century song “M-O-T-H- E- R (M Is For The Million Things She Gave Me).” Here’s a vintage recording if you want to give a listen. It’s a schmaltzy ditty that touches my heart because of the mother I was fortunate to have. So today, I want to celebrate a few of the million things my mother gave me.
My mom was born on May 26, 1930 and was sent to live down South with her grandmother when she was a few months old. She shared with me that she didn’t even know there was a depression and regales me with stories of being the spoiled red-haired fox her uncles chided and chastised.
When Alex Haley’s Roots was televised, she wondered what the big deal was then proceeded to tell me about the Pitt family that owned her grandparents. When I let her know I’d decided to pursue a Masters degree two years after graduating from college and having worked in the big bad world of advertising, it was only then she shared that she had been hoping I would go back to school. She even declared, “Why who knows? You may want to go on and get a PhD.” That was the first time I realized my mother wished things for me, but by her restraint showed she respected that what I wanted when and if I wanted it was what was important.
In things small and large, she made it plain—not only to me but to my sister as well—that we were to be who we wanted to be. We weren’t put on this earth to live up to anyone’s expectations. She recalled a time my sister came to her with a picture she had drawn and said, “I couldn’t do it as good as Anna.” To which my mother assured her she wasn’t supposed to do it as good as Anna. She was supposed to do it as good as Muriel. When I felt unconfident or about to settle for less than what I was worth, I recalled her telling me with great vehemence, “You can scrub toilets before you kiss anybody’s ass.” She doesn’t remember saying this but I do, and I will always be grateful for the confidence those words instilled.
As a minister, I’ve helped families in which the relationship between mothers, daughters and sons was strained and far from loving. They can’t sing without reservation as I can the last line of the song I shared above but thanks to the love I have from my mom, I’ve found ways to help honor their struggles and woes.
The last line of M-O-T-H-E-R goes, “Put them all together they spell MOTHER. A word that means the world to me.” I will forever be grateful to my mother who means the world to me. For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments about someone who was a mother to you or perhaps you have mothered.
Haunted Serenade – by Anna M. Taylor
All the women in Anora Madison’s family have lived haunted by the curse of Poor Butterfly: women still longing for but deserted by the men they loved. Determined to be the first to escape a life of abandonment, Anora fled Harlem for Brooklyn, not only severing her ties with her mother Angela, but also ending her relationship with Winston Emerson, her lover and the father of her child.
Six years later, Anora comes home to make peace, but an unseen evil manifests itself during the homecoming and targets not only Anora, but her little girl Cammie.
With nowhere to run, Anora must confront the evil now trying to destroy her life. She vows to protect her daughter at all costs, but if that protection can only be found with Winston back in her life, how will Anora protect her heart?
Excerpt from Haunted Serenade…
In September 15, 1963, the one year anniversary of my aunt Diana’s death, four young girls in Birmingham, Alabama died when their church was bombed for its involvement in the Civil Rights movement.
My mother called that evening and inquired after my health and the health of my daughter Cammie – the granddaughter she vowed never to acknowledge.
Fear, anger and sorrow sounded in her voice. Mine too. We mourned those girls, their families and the sister/aunt we both loved. In that spoken grief, I silently mourned what had died between my mother and me.
The following month she called again, this time inviting me to bring Cammie to dinner. Like some sulky child, I felt tempted to ask what took her so long. Instead, I swallowed my hurt and came home.