Mother's Day – A Mother's Love

Today is the day that we take time to remember our Mothers and show them love in some shape, form or fashion.  Today is my 46th Mother’s Day without my biological Mother.  For me it has just been a day to remind me of what I don’t have.  As I’ve gotten older and especially since I’m taking myself on an Encore journey (to be the change I want to see), I’m working effortlessly to change my thoughts on this day; to think of what I do have.  Instead of reflecting on the fact that I don’t have a Mother, I’m working to concentrate on the Substitute Mothers that GOD has BLESSED me with!
To me, being a Mother is a gift of caring that never ends and a love that never dies.  Today I want to take time to acknowledge the women that have come into my life and given me this unending love and care.  These are my Substitute Mothers.
First I must reflect on a Substitute Mother that I lost on October 10, 2015, while I was studying abroad in South Africa.  Rosetta Gilmore, who everyone calls Whul, was a Dear Substitute Mother to me.
My Sister and I were raised by my Maternal Aunt, Dorothy Mae Lawrence-Hubert-Thurman (who we call Aunt Bia).  We started living with her in the Orr-Weathers (Housing Projects) in the E-4 building.

Aunt Bia1

Sisi, Aunt Bia and I in Country Club Hills, Illinois

We met Whul and her daughters (Deborah, Pat, Diane and Yvette), when we move on the 7th Floor.  Years later we moved to the row houses and coincidentally moved where our back yards were across from each other.  They became the family that provided me with unspoken love (through their actions), when I felt I needed to feel family love.  I would spend most of my free time at home at their place and they never made me feel like, “I wish she would go home.”
Rosetta Gilmore

Whul with her Daughters (Pat, Diane, Yvette, Whul and Deborah)

Even when I moved out of Illinois, I always made it my business to visit Whul; like I would a Mother, during my return visits home.  I remember taking my young Son to visit her and when we left he said, “Ma, I have never thought about having a GrandMother before, because I’ve never had one; but Whul make me feel like I wish I had one.”  This was a confirmation for me that Whul was truly a Substitute Mother.
Today I must acknowledge my Sister, Doreece DeVone Lawrence.  She’s not old enough to be my Mother, but we have had to play the role of Mother for each other.  She’s been like Hallmark – the next best thing!  We have had to depend on each other for survival.  She has been my ROCK and I THANK GOD for her!
Doreece & Me

Sisi and I in Montego Bay, Jamaica

My current Substitute Mother is Gloria Palmer-Bailey.  She is my Sorority Sister’s (The Late Andrea Antoinette Bailey-Williams) Mother.  I met Antoinette and her family, when we moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1996.

Me and SoRHOr Andrea Antoinette Bailey-Williams in Chicago, Illinois

To help me to settle and get to know people, my hometown Sorority Sister, Warletta Johnson, took me to meet Antoinette for a party at Antoinette’s home.
SoRHOr Warletta1

Me with SoRHOr Warletta in Tinley Park, Illinois

From that day, Antoinette’s family took me and my son in as family.  They invited and included us in all of their family functions and events.  The amazing part about Antoinette and her family was my son and I were not the only people they accepted as family.  They accepted most of Antoinette’s friends as family.
Gloria is the Mother I wished I had; she keeps it REAL.  I remember her telling me, “I tell my kids all of the time, don’t raise your children the way I raised you guys; because I really did not know what I was doing.”  Though she may doubt her efforts, I think she did an AWESOME job!
My admiration grew to the highest level, when I learned how she maintained being a consistent student pursuing her Associate, Bachelor and Master degrees, while she functioned as a single parent to three (3) children and using public transportation!  I thought it was hard for me; doing it as a single parent with one child and a car.  I am honored to be able to call her a Substitute Mother.

Me and Gloria in Chicago, Illinois

Unfortunately, Antoinette lost her battle with breast cancer on February 07, 2006.  Yet, my connection with her Mother Gloria continues.  She needs a Daughter and I need a Mother.
As it appear, death seems to follow me and continue to take people who are near and dear to me.  As I venture into my efforts of staying positive and moving forth, I’m working to learn…
Life Lesson – “Don’t grieve.  Anything you lose comes around in another form” (Rumi).

Transition – Constant Learning Path

The memories that I have of my parents are few and very vague.  The older I got the more I wanted to know about them.  Still to this date that desire never diminishes.  But I’m at a disadvantage, because when I inquire and research information about them, I am mostly faced with dead ends; like “I don’t remember.”  I find it to be very frustrating, especially now as I venture on this encore journey in my life.  I’ve learned that “those who are unaware of history are destined to repeat it” (George Santayana).
One thing I do vividly remember is the day (September 01, 1968) my Father died.  He was outside of our home working underneath one of his cars.  The jack slipped and the car fell on him.  Because it was early in the morning and no one else outside, he was left in that position for some time.  We were inside the home and my Mother was cooking breakfast.  She asked my Aunt Shirley to go outside to let him know that breakfast was ready.  I can still hear her scream; it was heart wrenching.  I vividly remember when the ambulance finally arrived and they pulled him from underneath the car.  By the way his face was dark and dirty, I knew it was bad.

Daniel G, Jr.

Me and My Father (Daniel Gibson, Jr.)

What I didn’t remember, but it was told to me later on in my life, that on this same day, my Mother was taking my Sister and I to relocate to Suitland, Maryland to live with her Cousin Micky.  Apparently, she felt she needed a change and was taking a step to move out of East St. Louis, Illinois.  Of course because of my Father’s death, her plan was delayed; but we did move to Suitland, Maryland.  Now, what is unbeknownst to me to this date is why she returned and 1 ½ years later her life ended (March 04, 1970) in East St. Louis, Illinois.

My Mother, Delores Lawrence

Fast forward to my senior year in high school (Lincoln Senior High) I remember writing as my plan for the future in my Senior Memory Book was to move out of East St. Louis and never return to make it my home.  The Fall (1980) after graduating from high school, I left East St. Louis to go to college (Eastern Illinois University).  I now understand that my goal for going to college was not to pursue a degree.  My goal was solely to move out of East St. Louis and going to college would provide me with that opportunity.  Though I accomplished my goal to move away, three (3) years later (Summer, 1983) I felt forced to return, when I found myself unwed, unloved and pregnant with my Son.
I was still successful with my moving away plans.  I moved away from East St. Louis in April, 1987 and relocated to Oakland, California to live with my Sister; who has lived a nomadic lifestyle all of her adult life.  She had been living there for one year and I guess was sick of hearing about my challenges of finding employment; she continued to highly encourage me to make a change and join her in California.  I felt like I was unable to progress in East St. Louis; so out of desperation, I purchased one-way tickets for me and my son and we relocated to Oakland, California.
My Son and I were there for 1 ½ years and my sister decided to move back to East St. Louis!  Well, I had been successful in securing a job with the federal government and moving back was not a desire or an option for me.  So we stayed and lived there for 9 years.  Through observational learning from my Sister, who in 9 years had lived in many other places, I was inspired to explore the nomad lifestyle, when I was informed that my federal position was being reassigned to Chicago, Illinois.  So, I requested to relocate along with it and was granted the opportunity (March, 1996).
Even though we lived in Chicago for almost 20 years, I feel it was not a good move for me.  It required me to tap into all of my survival skills.  My professional experience was in a career destructive environment where I had to enhance my abilities and learn tactical techniques to avoid fatal interactions with leadership abuse on a daily base.  This professional challenge did motivate me to re-enter in college to finish (Summer, 2006) the Bachelor degree that I failed to achieve during my first tenure.
After 15 years of utilizing my strength, energy and fighting the will to keep hope; along with my completion of raising my son as a single parent, I found myself needing a change.  Again, I decided the best way out would be to go to college and pursue a Master degree (Fall, 2011).  This time my ultimate goal was to not only pursue a Master degree, but to maximize on every opportunity that I could explore that would take me to levels that I never imagined!

Me on Table Mountain in the city of Cape Town in South Africa

I studied abroad (Fall, 2013) to South Africa for my final semester of graduate school.  I returned to Chicago, Illinois and almost 2 years later I felt the need for a change; especially for warmer climate.  Again fortunately, my Sister was in the position to be my rescue!  She had been living in the Washington, DC area and working at the Pentagon for six (6) years and accepted a position at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.  Now that I had adapted the nomad lifestyle, I informed her of my desire to join her in Louisiana.  This time I was flying solo as an empty-nester and again she accepted me (October, 2015)!
For whatever reasons, my Sister and I both have chosen the path of constant change; nomad lifestyles.  We understand that everything is temporary and nothing is yours.  The greatest benefit of it all on this path has increased our adaptability and generated great learning experiences.  We have been exposed to many lifestyles, cultures and situations.
Me and Sisi

Me and Sisi in Chattanooga, Tennessee (visiting Aunt Shirley and her Family) for Thanksgiving 2015


Aunt Shirley with Her Sons, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren

I wish I had the opportunity to talk with my Mother to understand her thoughts, feelings and lessons, when she decided to seek a change and leave East St. Louis; ultimately, her decision to return.  I believe this information would have been helpful to both me and my Sister and possibly improved our path of the constant learning process.
Life Lesson – I’ve come to learn that “It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes, but an even wiser man to learn from others” (Zen Proverb).