It was the worst winter in recent memory, but she had no second thoughts or qualms about doing what needed to be done.
The wailing of her youngest child for the juice that was not in the refrigerator stirred up a sense of determination that she didn’t know existed.
She pushed herself from the bed and strode downstairs towards the closet – armed with nothing but a sense of duty.
“Momma, Momma, Momma”, chirped the youngest boy – as the fresh crust from around his eyes gave away best unkept secret in the house…
He just woke up.
Momma, juice? He asked.
She looked at him lovingly while putting on her boots, jacket, hat, gloves and scarf in preparation for the trip to the store. Her two older children were entranced and contented with a program on TV, while her husband slept in a coma-like state in the bedroom upstairs.
She announced that she would be back and headed out the door, her husband grunted something unintelligible and her boys half nodded as they briefly turned away from the siren song that was the television.
Whether she was aware that driving to the store was a luxury that was not to be had on this day, was not of any consequence.
She soon bore witness to the cars that were abandoned in the in the street by their owners and with Public transportation being at a virtual standstill, the city looked like a ghost town.
She slowly made her way through the snow for nearly a mile and a half, battling swirling winds, gusts of snow whipping against her face and the infamous wind chill factor that let her know in no uncertain terms, that this was Chicago in the dead of winter.
She soldiered on, knowing that she couldn’t turn back empty-handed, despite the fact that her hands were numb with cold. Ironically, she forgot her gloves on the kitchen table, but she burrowed her hands in her jacket pockets and walked marched on purposefully, ignoring the elements.
When she finally made it to the grocery store she found that she was one of the few people who had the gumption to venture out into frozen landscape that was the Blizzard of 1979. She made her rounds through the store, gathering provisions for her family and most importantly, she procured the juice that served as the backdrop for the tears for her youngest child.
After paying for her groceries, she made her way out of the store to start back home, but it seemingly had gotten colder since her initial trek here.
At the mid-point on her way back – tired and her hands numb from the cold, she briefly regretted that she over-shopped -and she was faced with a dilemma of sorts. The bags were getting progressively heavier with each step that she took.
Ultimately, she decided that she would place one of the bags behind a car that was abandoned in the street, covering it with snow to obscure it from sight, she declared that she would come back for it after she delivered the first bag to her brood.
When she made it home, she got the youngest fortified with the juice and let the older 2 boys know that she would be right back. She slipped back out into the cold while her husband was still asleep to pick up the bag that she deftly hid in the snow next to the abandoned car.
When she finally made it back home, exhausted and numb from the cold, she finally saw fit to exhale. Afterwards it was determined that she had a close call with frostbite, but it did not matter to her, as she would do it again if the situation demanded it.
To this day she suffers from a hyper-sensitivity in her hands and feet to the cold, handling anything frozen is uncomfortable to her to say the least. She scoffs at the sacrifice that she made on that day, because that is the type of person that she is.
It is a spirit of selflessness that powers her and serves as a guiding force, accordingly it is something that was infectious and spread to her children in various degrees.
This is not another one of my forays into fiction writing, this woman who battled the Blizzard and emerged victorious, is a live, breathing person and far from being a figment of my imagination, she is my Mother – and I was the toddler crying for his juice.
You have given so much to me, often when I deserved so little… I am inclined to say that there have been times where I have not been worthy to be your son, but that mattered little to you.
The diplomas, certifications and accolades that I have procured in the halls of academia pale in comparison from what you have taught me by example. Your words and deeds exude an inexhaustible air of determination.
You gave me the recipe for the foundation of love, by allowing me to marinate in it… I was able to achieve the most critical ingredient, that of redemptive love.
You never gave up on me, even when I fell victim to the darts of inadequacy in a school system that branded me as something that I wasn’t.
You fortified me when I was blinded by accusations that I was stupid, broken and that I was an “other” that there was something innately wrong with.
You encouraged, nurtured and reminded me that reading would be my salvation.
Eventually, your statement turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but more importantly it was a fear that gnawed inside of me…
I did not want to let you down…
I would have preferred a quick death to having you harbor any disappointment in me.
Momma, I just want to make you proud and give you a return on your investment.
When I write, I feel empowered.
I am sometimes accused of being inspirational, but I am inclined to think that am I channeling you.
Just as the Moon is unable to generate its own light, it can only reflect the light of the sun, this is merely what I am doing.
Reflecting your light…
I love you Momma.
Happy Birthday, I am only because you are and I am you.