. . . just your average Caribbean American New Englander

Safekeeping

Posted on Jan 4, 2018 |

Safekeeping

 

 

The girl child listens, hand to chin, as her elders speak in the coded language of head nods and side glances. This girl child—old enough to be in the room but too young to join the conversation—is suspended in the fog of knowing grown folks have ways about them.

The girl child has heard a few stories about her elders but may never be old enough to know the details of the ongoing resurrection of her mama because some stories don’t need to pass between a mama and her child.

The girl child can’t perceive of a time where her mama was our mentor and role model long before she our friend, that her mama made me apply for jobs because it was good practice, that she pushed me toward my first job after college, that she taught me that having fresh evergreens at Christmas was worth it, even if it left you with $3 in your wallet.

The girl child can’t imagine her mama and me running from bedroom to bedroom of the stately home her mama shared with her husband trying to find the comforter that would warm the bed in her mama’s new apartment, no more than the girl child can imagine the fortitude it took for me to sit on the dining room floor wrapping her mother’s china in old newspapers, just as the soon to be ex-husband comes home.

The girl child can’t picture what a whirlwind her mama was the summer the divorce was final, how we packed for summer getaways like the single women we were: cute shoes, bathing suits, sarongs to wrap around our waists, and a gallon of scotch.  And, at the end of that summer, the courage it took for her mama to leave a good job so that her mama could walk the road of her destiny.

The girl child probably doesn’t know that when her mama was not trying to get married again is exactly when the girl child’s daddy arrived on the scene, that her mama and daddy made a gorgeous couple at their wedding and that they loved on the girl child all during the winter she was born before they let the world love her, too.

The girl child may not understand why I say to her mama “You so trifling,”

and why her mama replies “You so crazy,”

‘cause although trifling and crazy are not nice words they both mean “I love you”;

why her mama and I tend to avoid eye contact, for we see each other deeply and share a sister love that only the Lord could make;

why sometimes grown women grow together and apart and together again.
All the girl child knows is that I am her auntie and she is my niece and her mama is my sister and even though we don’t all share blood, we share safety and love and hope. We share God.

Perhaps that is all she ever really needs to know.