“She was a more sophisticated, stoic type of woman. She wouldn’t have to be loud or speak anything really; her presence alone demanded attention and respect. You wouldn’t second guess it. She installed in me a type of quality of how to carry myself as a woman. Even though I could be animated or rambunctious, even obnoxiously loud at moments, she used to chastise me. She could be so stern, ‘You know we’re not about that. I love you unconditionally; that’s natural. However, do I like you acting like that? Absolutely not!’ It turned her off, but in some moments she’d crack up and laugh because her sense of humor is a bit much.
Her love was unconditional, so I didn’t know how much of an impact I’ve caused during my teenage years or that rebellion stage. On one of the visits that I had with my mom, once again, my sister was with her and I spoke to my sister after the visit, and she explained to me that mommy broke down crying, putting your mail in the mailbox. Publicly she’s not a scene maker so everyone knows that she’s suffering or going through pain. She was very well at masking that, and that broke me. That broke my heart so much. And still, in all, knowing that it broke my heart to hear it, to know that I’ve caused pain in my family. I still wasn’t too connected with how much of an impact I’ve caused for not just my family members but with my community and my friends. Up to this day, I talk to my friends and they reach out to me, and they’re like, ‘What you did changed my life, my journey. You know, I’m married, I’ve got kids.’
Another thing about my mom: she came to one of my visits, and I started getting misty-eyed and emotional a little bit. She was like, please don’t do that. I complained about what my son was wearing. He was about three or four at the time, and he had a pair of corduroys on and I was like, I would never have my child wearing anything like that. And then my son was three or four years old so he didn’t really care. That’s when I started crying. She was like, ‘You’re still vain thinking that we’re not suffering or going through whatever we’re going through, and you’re worried about how your child is dressed. We came- we took 2 ½ hours to get here. It cost gas money.’ It’s a struggle for me to accept a situation where someone else is telling my kid what to do. She held it together just to keep afloat and help to keep my sanity.”