bad mommi pics

bad mommi pics


My Favorite Things

 Last night I heard a song that threw me off balance: My Favorite Things.  Everyone clapped and applauded as soon as they heard the first riffs and people stumbled over the numerous list of items in each verse until they tumbled into the chorus while I sat in tears.  This was one of my mother's favorite songs. Clara Ophelia Cuffie sang that song every holiday, anytime it came on the radio, under her breath as a joke, and any other time she felt like it.  She sang that song so many times I know every word and after her death almost 3 years ago I never wanted to hear it again. It is difficult to listen to the melody and rhythms that remind you of a woman who was so awesome and present in your life her absence feels like a constant open wound.  Her absence sometimes punches me in the gut leaving me winded and stunned; I am always in disbelief of how sudden her departure was.  It has taken me this many years to get to point where I can even talk about her; I feel like she left me when I needed her most and I've finally come to terms with that anger.  Hearing that song made me realize how much I try to stuff missing her down in the depths of my body and keep it hidden away.  It also made me remember why I loved her so much; she was my list of favorite things. 

The way she woke me up in the morning
So, my mother had this way of waking you up in the morning by poking you with her sharp fingernails until you had to get up.  She would crawl into bed with you, breathe morning breath and essentially drive you insane until you were forced to get up.  She once dumped a bucket of ice water on my dad to wake him up in the middle of the night.  He woke up screaming. I woke up laughing.  When she wanted you up, she wanted you up.

How heavy her hair was
My mother was the first of us to grow locs.  I followed suit and even my grandmother got in the act for a while.  By the time I had grown mine, cut them off, had a perm and a mohawk then a caesar and grown them back again, she had grown these long luscious locs that trailed down her back.  And were too damn heavy.  Every time I would come home she would beg me to twist them and then we'd spend hours washing and redoing them.  Most of my favorite moments with her were spent doing our hair; when I was little she would do mine and when I got older it was my time to do hers.  She always complained because she said I did them too tight; I always complained because I thought she should cut them shorter.  I also complained because she never styled them.  I loved her hair because that was my special time with her.  A few days before she died she cut her locs short and got them styled in curls.  She was so excited when she told me on the phone.  I never got to see them but I know she looked like a Queen.

Her awkward dancing
I think every child is embarrassed by their parents dancing.  I think I was ten times more embarrassed.  My mother wanted to dance EVERYWHERE. If there was music she was dancing and trying to get you to dance too.  At weddings, family gatherings, parties your friends invited you to, bar and bat mitzvahs; I grimaced whenever she heard the beat but secretly I applauded her confidence in just being able to move when and where she wanted.   Secretly she taught me how to wave my hands in the air and not care about the onlookers who might think I was weird or couldn't dance.  They couldn't be having half as much fun as we were.

The way she burned incense after cleaning the house
If you don't like incense don't come to my house.  It's how I know the house has been cleaned and every time I light a stick I see warm sunny afternoons and hear Stevie playing in the background and feel wet soapy water between my fingers like I'm cleaning the bathroom sink.  She taught me how to clean as a prayer, a meditation, a release.  A quiet moment to honor being alive and having your own stuff.  And even now if I procrastinate to get to the cleaning I know once it starts I can be at one with the universe in those hours.

The way she picked songs out for me
You can probably tell my mother loved music.  LOVED music; it's why I love music so much.  We shared a love of the same soulful singers even though as a teenager I'd pretend I had no idea where her Oleta Adams went when I knew it was in my tape deck.  She filled our lives with beautiful music.  And every once in a while she'd pick a song, usually from her new favorite album, that she said reminded her of me.  Once it was India Arie's Slow Down Baby another time it was Jill Scott's I Just Wanna Be Loved. She'd pick the songs that said what she wanted to teach me and from the moment she told me the title I could never hear those songs again without hearing her advice for me like a poem in the background.

Her laugh
I mean loud. And strong. And full. And authentic.  I think my earliest memories were of me trying to make that sound come out of her.  Trying to make those lips part and see those unique teeth.  Even when she was laughing at me it was a happy moment and though I might have felt dumb about what I did, I always felt proud that I got to see that smile.

The way she loved God
My mother taught me a  non-judgmental, contemplative, faithful love of God.  She taught me to love Him unconditionally because she did.  She taught me it was okay to ask questions and alright not to believe everyone else was wrong.  She taught me reverence and respect for His spirit and she taught me that God has a sense of humor. She taught me to be spiritual.  She taught me to always come back to Him.  She taught me to love others just because He made them and she taught me I was special because He made me. And through her strength she taught me what it means to struggle and survive and get knocked down and still smile.  She taught me to believe what He says about me which is that I am awesome because how could I not be with such a beautiful mother.

The way she loved me
That love of God carried over into the way she loved us; me and my brothers.  She was that mom always picking up and dropping off. Always asking questions and listening. Always yelling and pissing you off because she was telling you what to do.  She forced me to do some things and I hated her for it; I hated when she made me sign up for competitive swimming and when she made me dance in front of the whole school or when she first tricked me into singing in the choir or when she made me write poems EVERY Kwanzaa because she said I was a writer.  But I love her for being the person who believed in me most.  Who believed in everyone's sheer ability to do great things.  She believed so hard she could carry you on the back of that belief until you started to walk on your own in it too.  

"Community property"
This is what she called Max.  From the moment we found out he was going to be born she went into lioness mode.  There are no words to express how lucky and blessed I am to have had that support through his early childhood.  I could not stand on my own two feet without it.  When he was in my belly she would wake me up at 7 in the morning calling his name and asking him to kick for her.  And when my parents took him so I could finish college he'd get so confused he'd call her mommy and me grandma which caused great confusion when he started preschool.  She called him "community property" because she said everyone had a hand in raising him; if it were not for her I do not think I would have such and intelligent, funny, compassionate, awesome and beautiful young man.  She taught me to be a mother and she taught me to become a woman through raising him.

Her heart
Sometimes secretly I think it was so big, her body just couldn't handle it anymore and it just gave out.  She shared it with everyone, sometimes to her own detriment. She gave so much I was scared she wouldn't have anything left for herself.  But it always seemed to fill up with more.  And even when I did some crazy shit (because believe me, I have done some crazy shit) she'd just smile (after yelling) and love me some more; love me that much harder.  Max once told me that when he was in my belly he reached up and took a piece of my heart to always keep with him. Well I think my mother's heart was so big that everyone she ever touched had to keep a piece with them just so her burden wouldn't be so heavy.

There is so much more that I could write down but I will say this; I turned on Anita Baker today.  And I listened to Oleta and some Cassandra Wilson as well.  I even turned on Kathleen Battle's version of My Favorite Things.  And I broke down.  I cried and moaned and literally said ouch from how bad it hurts to miss her.  But then I laughed.  And I sang.  Loud.  Because even though she is gone I am finally getting to the point where I realize that it's okay to have her favorite things around me.  I realize that hurting for her doesn't make me guilty or weak; it means I honor her, I loved her, and I still keep her inside me. And I never want to lose that.  So excuse me if you hear me humming a few notes the next time you see me; that's just a little Clara Ophelia seeping out because she poured so much into me.