I was sixteen years old when my mother suddenly transitioned into another phase of life. She lived a short, but full life. Mama gave birth to a child just about every other year in addition to cooking, cleaning, sewing, and caring for our growing family. Mama always performed miracles throughout her years with us. I’d watch her transform hopeless moments into exciting adventures. She knew how to mend broken hearts, blankets, and toys. She paid the bills and gave us spiritual guidance and hope. I always stayed close by her side trying to lend a helping hand. I carried groceries, assisted her in the kitchen, and tried to be the best child I could.
I distinctly remember that early Sunday at 1:21 a.m. Dad woke me. He was visibly saddened. “Call your sister. Your mother’s sick.” I got out of bed hurriedly and went to her room. Mama’s eyes were open. I knew something was not right. Mama was gone. I trembled as I closed Mama’s eyes as Dad stood beside me. I felt his pain and sadness. I knew this unthinkable loss would affect us all for the rest of all of our lives. I called my sister, Doll, who lived about ten minutes away. It was very difficult for me to speak the words of reality, “Mama’s gone.”
News of Mama’s death traveled like wildfire. Even during a terrible storm that came up that night, well-wishers came pouring into our house even after 3:00 a.m. Most everybody loved my mother, who had never met a stranger or refused to feed the homeless. This God-fearing woman always prayed for the sick.
I vividly and painfully remember the undertakers coming for Mama and carrying her out as though her body had no value. I was furious about that for a long time, until I received a heart of forgiveness from our Lord and Savior.
On May 10, 1967, Mama was buried in Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio. I had lost my inspiration to succeed in life on Mother’s Day. She had been my friend, comforter, and protector. She taught me to love everyone in spite of racial or cultural differences.
Life after my mother’s death was very hard for me. Except for my older sister who passed away when I was a little over one, I hadn’t experienced death in my family, and Mama’s death had been so fast on what had seemed to be a typical Sunday morning.
From that day on, the sun didn’t shine as brightly, the birds didn’t chirp as bountifully, and my problem-solving abilities didn’t come as easily. I didn’t know how to react to the death of a loved one, especially my mother. Although Dad was the breadwinner, Mama had been the glue that held the family together. Most important, my mother motivated us to succeed in school. I promised my mother I would graduate grammar, middle, and high school. By the grace of God, I made good on that promise to her. Moreover, I earned three degrees for her.
My mother was like a magician providing her unconditional love among 14 children and each child still had all her LOVE. Her love, generosity, hope, self-empowerment and faith has defined my life.
She departed this life shortly after her 52nd birthday. I thank God for allowing her to inherit a better place to dwell in. She left us on Mother’s Day, May 7, 1966. As a result, Mother’s Day will always be bitter-sweet for me. So, my Mother, Clifford Hicks, I hope that I’ve made you proud. I’ve committed my entire life trying to exceed all of your expectations.