I wish I could say thank you to my mom. All of her children are doing well because of her efforts.
It was not easy for my mom. She was born in 1939.
I’m the oldest. I was born in 1955. Mom was 15.
My sister was born in 1958. Mom was 18.
My brother was born in 1959. Mom was 19.
My second brother was born in 1960. Mom was 20.
My third brother, Varick and his twin, Vandetta, my second sister were born in 1964. Mom was 25.
My parents were practicing Catholics in the 1950s. That is why they had so many kids.
I was lucky enough to have three years of my mom to myself.
I can’t imagine the financial stress Mom and Dad were under with a gang of little kids to feed and clothe.
My mother protected her six children on Chicago’s south side armed with only her wits after she and my father separated.
I remember many pictures of me dressed up like a little doll. I had on a pretty dress, matching shoes, and a little hat. I think Mom played with me like a toy.
The reason I felt like a princess for most of my life was that was how I was treated as a little girl.
I was both a precious gift and a horrible life-changing event to my mom.
I loved her unconditionally, how babies and toddlers love their mothers. She loved me back.
Ma dropped out of high school to take care of me. My mom was destined to be the family hero. She was smart, clever and tenacious. Once she had six children, there was no way for her to claim that destiny. The mantel transferred to me.
My grandmother and many of her nineteen brothers and sisters lived in a garage in the back of a white family’s house. The garage did not have running water, or refrigeration, air conditioning or an inside bathroom.
My grandmother told me they were grateful to have the housing as apartments were tough to find. Money and food were scarce.
My mom lived with her mother in the garage. She hated it.
In exchange for the garage, my grandmother cleaned for the family, another sister served as the day maid, while yet another of the sister watched the families children.
Her upbringing hunted my mom for her entire life. Her hate of warm milk resulted from living in that un-air-conditioned garage.
Mom loved to drink 1/2 and 1/2 with ice in it. She liked cool delightful watermelon. Air conditioning. A delicious cold beer.
Because she was so young, with so many children, she was subject to the pressures of motherhood.
My mom sometimes drank to excess.
When drinking, she was not a pleasant drunk. She would be short and quick to give out spankings, deserved and undeserved.
When someone was in trouble and about to receive a spanking, she would “set the timer.” She would then administer punishment until the timer dinged.
I don’t remember us being well behaved. I think we were six precocious bad kids.
If you wanted to be in deep yogurt, do badly at school. Nothing could save you from weeks of punishment.
One of my most distinct memories is of one of the six of us looking down the street to see when we could see my mother walking home from her retail sales job.
We lived on 72nd and Stony Island Avenue. She worked on 72nd and South Shore Drive. She would not pay the fare to ride the four long city blocks between our home and her job. She walked it.
We would assign someone to be the “look out” for my mother walking.
Only when we saw her coming home, would we do the things we had been assigned the morning before she left.
I remember sitting on her lap and being hugged and kiss. It was wonderful. She would take us in her lap one at a time and kiss us. It was one time I enjoyed being first.
As times got tougher, and the drinking got heavier, the kissing sessions stopped. My brothers and sisters may not remember them.
All my mother’s children are successful in life. We are ok financially. No one has been to jail. Every one of us is married to someone we love. our children are graudating and going to college. Ma’s grandchildren have opportunities we could not even have dreamed about. Her grandchildren are attending university. My son’s daughter, her great granddaughter, is headed to her second year of university on scholarship.
My mother bound her six children together. she wanted a big family as she was an only child. We have a group text where we keep up with each other’s families. Like all families, we have dysfunctional parts, but everyone is loved. We are all Crowe’s.
My mother remains my superhero. She was a hell of a woman. I hope to leave a positive impact as great as my hero’s when I die.
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I can be reached at https://www.tonicrowewriter.com/