“Sometimes the poorest woman leaves her children the richest inheritance.” ~ Ruth E. Renkel
For years I wanted everyone to be my mother but my own mother. I would compare her to images that I would see on television or women that I thought were cooler than her. I would be the best child for everyone but for her and it effected our relationship for years.
At the age of 21, my mother was a single mother of three children, she came back to her hometown after a divorce and was determined to succeed. She received a job as a paraprofessional and worked hard to save enough money to leave her mother’s house. Less than a year later, she had accomplished that goal.
Though she received a monthly check from the Board of Education, it was hardly enough to pay bills, feed and clothe three children and herself. She began to work an extra job to provide these things for our family coming home tired and drained from her 12-hour days to clean after her children.
She looked for the help of a man to assist her in raising a family but each one fell through- some stealing, some lying or even hitting. She wanted so desperately to give her children a life that had no limits and tried her best to attain that life. Most of my anger derived from this pursuit because I remember her, cooking, cleaning and being the best wife that she could be- only to be crushed repetitively by men who did not deserve to even hold her hand. The men would eventually leave taking a piece of her heart each time.
There were two consistent things in my mother’s life that she is so very proud of: her relationship with God and her children.
I appreciate her most for teaching me how to pray and encouraging me to sing. Every Sunday morning without fail, my mother would wake up and fix the best breakfast- grits, eggs, buttered biscuits and sausage. The aroma would wake anyone up out of the bed and bring them to the table. After breakfast, she would do mine and my sister’s hair and would make my brother tuck in his shirt and brush his hair making sure that we looked our very best for church.
When we arrived she led devotion (praise and worship), raising her voice to the Heavens and praying for a blessing. I would study her, watching every move that she made practicing singing to make my voice sound like hers. I wanted to lead devotion just to mimic my mother, just to sing like she did and does.
My mother faced hard times, but her faith in God and her children pushed her to keep moving and never give up. I remember listening to my mother cry for hours thinking that she would never come out of her room ever again, but the next morning she would be ready to do it without hesitation.
In retrospect, I can see how I underestimated my mother’s true strength. It took a lot of resilience to face co-workers who pick on your misfortunes, lovers who betray your trust and a daughter who did not appreciate your love for her. Her persistence and faith ushered her into a ministry that she did not see at the time, but has now come into fruition.
Despite the stereotypes placed upon my mother, she is able to say that all three of her children are high school graduates and productive citizens in society. Her prayers have brought my older brother home safely from the United States Air Force without harm, helped my sister graduate Magna Cum Laude with a degree in nursing and have encouraged me to press towards my dreams.
In 2013, she received her doctorate in theology and has gone on to speak in numerous churches. Her consistency in her faith has inspired myself and my siblings to never give up on ourselves or our Creator.
She does not live in a mansion and may never be a millionaire, but my mother has given her children some things that no one can take away from them: faith, persistence, a love for education and a wonderful mother.