Joe Louis and his sisters
This is the eve of the new year. 2009. What will it bring? The end to a year that has been stressful along the way. I lost my mother in February this year. I still feel I haven’t properly grieved her death. It is so sad that I did not get the opportunity to say goodbye to her before she left. I had not seen her since 2000 when I was home for my father’s funeral. I kept intending to go home, yet never did. I did not want to see my mother’s frailty. She had become very forgetful, demented, and now as the autopsy showed beginningthe descent into Alzheimer’s Disease. Watching this mountain of a woman grow smaller and fade from the world before she literally faded was painful to me. I couldn’t really bear it. So, I found one excuse after another to avoid what I had hoped to inevitably face finally, this summer. But it was not to be.
My mother loved us. She was hard, critical. But I know she loved us. I longed for more demonstrations of softness, of understanding from her. But most words from her mouth were like little daggers aimed at my heart. I’ve always been too sensitive.
Mama loved us. She did what she had to do to provide a stable and loving home for us. Thing is it wasn’t always quiet because of the squabbles between her and Daddy. But that’s another story. But because of her we had a nice house, and had the best that she could provide, including college educations. We had security and many of our wants fulfilled.
As the youngest sister of Joe Louis, (former heavyweight boxing champion of the world), she had been blessed to have a college education herself. She knew the value, as did most African-Americans of her time. This was the ticket out of ignorance into a life of possibilities. She wanted us to have that. She wanted us to be safe and healthy, the same things I now want for my own son. She did everything she could to make sure that we had everything we needed to accomplish that important dream. She sacrificed her own desires to make sure her children could reach for the stars.
I miss you, Mama. I’m sorry I am leaving 2008 and moving into a year of bright possibility without you. You would have been so proud of President-elect Barack Obama, the first real African-American president of our country. I remember how you claimed Bill Clinton as your son. We all felt proud of what he accomplished during his presidency. But something miraculous happened this year. You would have loved this moment. Well, that is, if the outside world had even registered in your mind. You seemed to only turn within those last days. Still, I like to hope that you would have peeked out from your world for just a moment to take notice of the moment.
When I think of how she died, my heart breaks. No one should have to die as she did. I prefer to think she walked out of her body upon seeing the angels waiting for her, and left this earth before her body even touched the ground. I like that idea. But I don’t know for sure. All I know is that I am missing her and letting go is still difficult.
One of my prayers for 2009 is that my heart heal and I find peace about my mother’s transition. I want to know that she has gone on and is at peace wherever she is. I want her to know that I miss her and that I’m sorry I never said goodbye.