My mom first laid eyes on my father to be at a high school football game. He came from a good family. He would soon graduate from Georgia Tech and was working at Lockheed Martin. Good job. Good family. Great college. Perfect candidate.
Desperation is a sad state of mind. It will play tricks on your mind. Make you think someone is wonderful when in fact they can be very hurtful. It can make jealousy look like concern. It can make lust feel like love, especially to such a damaged young woman.
The cycle of abuse was to continue for many years to come. I often look at my mom and wonder how she ever managed to survive. Spunk and an insane will to survive is all I can figure.
My dad was resentful that my mom tricked him into getting her pregnant. He had wanted to graduate college and be well on his way to the top before starting a family. Well Dad, it takes two to tango. Their families were humiliated. They blamed my only my mom. Immaculate conception? I think not! That’s how it was back then.
My dad was and always has been an excellent provider. When God was handing out the ability to nurture, somehow my dad was skipped over. My mom could do no right in his eyes. There were no kind or loving words in that loveless marriage. “Turn your head the other way. Your breath stinks”. Those were the first words my dad spoke to her after she spit out his baby girl. That would be me, of course. Are you kidding me? What about great job or you are such a trooper having down that with nothing for pain! The tears she must have cried by herself that night. Everyone said I was the most beautiful baby they had ever seen. Complete strangers stopped by her room just to lay eyes on the woman who gave me life. My mom was/is beautiful. At least the kind strangers made her feel good about herself, for a minute or two.
I was born with pyloric stenosis. My pyloric valve would not open therefore no milk flowed to my starving belly. I cried all the time and projectile vomited across the room. My dad would look up from his homework long enough to scream at my mom. ” Shut that baby up. I can’t concentrate “. Tears flowed down her cheeks mixing with mine. Of course this was somehow her fault. Her breast milk must have been sour. She didn’t hold the bottle properly. She bought the wrong goats milk or cows milk. Making mama wear a hospital mask when she held me didn’t help the situation. The implication was that she was bad for her own infant and would just make her sicker. Poor mama.
Thank goodness the ancient Dr. Hoppie figured things out before my mom completely gave up. He gave me the right medicine and in no time I was getting much-needed nourishment. The colic stuck around though.
Dad was a perfectionist and hard as she tried my mom just couldn’t cut the mustard. On the other hand, I could do no wrong. After the colic went away. Mom tried to set limits and boundaries and dad gave me whatever I wanted. I learned very early on that my tears could get me the world.
Less than four years would go by before my parents just couldn’t do it anymore. Divorce. An ugly word. Shameful. Once again, the blame was to be placed on my mom. Things only became more difficult for her. What strength this mom of mine had. What hell she endured.
While I spent my days in daycare, she worked full-time in downtown Atlanta in a very bad part of the city. She spent the weekdays trying to make me behave properly and my dad and his parents undid all of her efforts every weekend. While my dad and his parents helped financially, my mom worked tirelessly to prove that she could make it on her own. At the age of twenty-two, she finally started building a little self-esteem.
It wouldn’t take long before her world was shattered like never before. As if this woman hadn’t endured a lifetime of tragedy already. She was always the first one to arrive at work. Sometimes the early bird does NOT catch the worm. Instead, they are raped at gunpoint by a black man. The man playing lookout was supposed to put a bullet through her head after his turn. Thank the good Lord her boss showed up before the second man could enter the building. My mom has told me many times that the only one thought kept going through her head. “You can’t kill me. I have a four year old daughter”. I thank God for her boss. If not for him, I would have grown up without my mother.
After the invasive rape kit and the hours of questioning by police, my mama was taken to her mother’s house. Her deeply prejudice sisters scrubbed her raw from head to toe. From the bedroom, my battered, shattered and brutalized mother overheard her mom saying, “I can never look at her again. She has been with a black man”. How much more could this tortured woman take? The ONLY positive thing to come from this was my mom’s choice not to bring prejudice into our home. She did not choose to believe that ALL black people are bad just because one evil black man had raped her. Thank you for not raising me with hate and fear in my heart when that probably would have been the easiest way for you. What a sick and evil family you were born into. I am heart-broken by the torture you endured. I will forever be grateful for the woman you raised me to be in spite of it all!