Monday, May 09, 2022

MOTHER'S DAY!

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. For those who celebrate I pray that it was everything you wanted and needed the day to be.

Although I had a very pleasant day, it is always a bittersweet experience for me. Since birth, my sister and I have gone to church with our mother every Mother’s Day. Unless of course I was living out of the country on an island, or the sister was away in college. Yesterday, we came together with my granddaughter in tow to continue that tradition. The Pretty Princess and I rose early to make it in time for service at Morehead Avenue Baptist Church to get the word from mommy’s pastor, Reverend Charles C. Barnes, Sr. My mother was ecstatic and that brought me much joy. I don’t take it for granted that at her age, with her declining health, that we are immensely blessed to still have her here with us. Brunch followed. We laughed and reminisced and our time spent together was a breath of fresh air for my spirit.

For many, many years I have claimed six children. The ex-husband came with four, fathered the fifth with his mistress and we shared the youngest. Some who know me, believe they are all mine by birth, and I have never before felt it necessary to correct that assumption. They were mine and I loved all of them with every fiber of my being. I took them to school, cheered at all their extracurricular activities, wiped away tears and fussed when they did wrong. I was there during their formative years, the younger bunch from birth. I did what a mother did to the best of my ability and I was practically a child myself. More times than not I got it right, but those times when I made mistakes, I thought them monumental. Most mothers do.

When the divorce happened, the older kids were adults with families of their own. I know that their father smeared my name at every opportunity, but I was so hell bent on being free from his abuse that I didn’t care. I thought the bond I shared with them would be enough. They knew me. Knew my heart. Knew I loved them beyond measure, no matter what was said about me. That first Mother’s Day when I heard not one word from any of them, I was devastated. I sat in church with my own mother trying to figure out what I’d done wrong.

The second year didn’t hurt as much. By year five I’d become numb to it all. The one child I had birthed still wished me a good day and joined me and his grandmother at church. Then suddenly that went left. I became persona non grata. He told me he hated me and blamed me for everything that was wrong in his life. He turned on me, his wrath so vapid that it still has me reeling. I had to be reminded that it wasn’t personal, it was his mental illness. But it felt as personal as personal could ever get. It was pain in a way I have never experienced hurt before. I cried continuously when no one was watching. There were times I could barely breathe thinking about it, wondering if I would survive. It was unfathomable grief and through it all I kept smiling, kept saying I was fine, and hid it from others to the best of my ability.

Things have gotten better. The holiday is no longer as difficult to navigate as it was in years prior. I’ve learned not to great Mother’s Day with any expectations. Yesterday, I received two messages. The first was from my new bonus son, saying he loved me and appreciated me and wishing me the best day ever. The second came from my youngest, apologizing for not calling, but he wasn’t well. He hoped I had a good day. Both greetings made me happy.

Big Daddy and the Pretty Princess gave me a Mother’s Day parade. They showered me with affection and love and presented me with the sweetest cards and the most generous gifts. And then I sat in church with my mommy, feeling immensely blessed.

 

 

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

ISLAND QUEEN by Vanessa Riley

I love a great historical novel and ISLAND QUEEN by renowned author Vanessa Riley is one that should not be missed. And now it's on sale!!! Learn more here: https://bit.ly/IQsaleDV

Island Queen  is a remarkable, sweeping historical novel based on the incredible true-life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful
landowners in the colonial West Indies. Accolades for the story and for the author have been sweeping!
 
“Richly detailed, vividly depicted, and sweeping in scope, Island Queen is historical fiction at its absolute finest. A stunning must-read!” — Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba
 
“Island Queen is the magnificently reconstructed life story of Dorothy "Doll" Kirwan Thomas, whose fascinating legacy of grit and success desperately deserves to be better known. With lush prose and raw emotion, Riley vividly captures the complexity of bringing to life a time of rebellion and possibility.”    — New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Dray
 
“Reading Island Queen and I am riveted. RIVETED, I tell you! Whew! That woman can WRITE! What a book!”
   — Kristan Higgins, from Twitter

Born into slavery on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, Doll bought her freedom—and that of her sister and her mother—from her Irish planter father and built a legacy of wealth and power as an entrepreneur, merchant, hotelier, and planter that extended from the marketplaces and sugar plantations of Dominica and Barbados to a glittering luxury hotel in Demerara on the South American continent.
 
Vanessa Riley’s novel brings Doll to vivid life as she rises above the harsh realities of slavery and colonialism by working the system and leveraging the competing attentions of the men in her life: a restless shipping merchant, Joseph Thomas; a wealthy planter hiding a secret, John Coseveldt Cells; and a roguish naval captain who will later become King William IV of England.
 
From the bustling port cities of the West Indies to the forbidding drawing rooms of London’s elite, Island Queen is a sweeping epic of an adventurer and a survivor who answered to no one but herself as she rose to power and autonomy against all odds, defying rigid eighteenth-century morality and the oppression of women as well as people of color. It is an unforgettable portrait of a true larger-than-life woman who made her mark on history.

Buy a copy for you or a friend:  https://bit.ly/IQsaleDV

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

CONFIDENCE IS EVERYTHING!

 I was feeling myself today. I woke early, nothing hurt, and I felt ready to take on the world. The Pretty Princess hopped out of bed without being prodded and she too greeted the new day with a bright smile and no grumbling. I had two quick errands to run this morning, so after dropping the Princess off to another day in second grade, and the Paw off to the groomers for a much-needed haircut, I made a quick run to the post office and then to the library. Errands complete I decided to swing by my favorite store for a quick browse. I reasoned it was early, there wouldn’t be a big crowd and I might have an opportunity to shop the aisles in peace.

It was my lucky day! One elderly woman entered before me. Two staff members greeted us, and we had the entire store to ourselves! In times of a pandemic this was an epic moment! The other woman headed in one direction, and I headed in the other. We passed each other in the home goods section, avoiding all contact.

And then I turned down another aisle and there he stood. Even with a mask I could tell he was a nice-looking guy. He was large with an athletic frame, closely cropped haircut, and a warm umber complexion. There was the barest hint of gray in his hair, and he carried himself with an air of maturity. After a quick assessment (okay, maybe not so quick) I apologized and turned to head in the opposite direction.

“No problem,” he said, the timber of his voice sliding like butter against my ears. “I hope you’re having a good morning?”

“I am, thank you for asking,” I responded.

“I’m looking for a gift for my mother,” he said as if I’d asked. Maybe there was something in my eyes that questioned why he was looking at China serving pieces.

“Well, aren’t you sweet!”

“She has everything so it’s near impossible to shop for her and it’s her 85th birthday.”

“What a blessing! I’m sure she’ll love anything you get her. I have no doubts that just spending time with you will be the best gift ever.”

I could see him smile behind that mask and he nodded. We chatted for a few more minutes and then he continued on his search as I resumed my browsing. Heading to the children’s section of the store I found myself grinning, thinking I still got it! Appreciating that I couldn’t tell you what “it” was if you paid me. I just knew I felt good. I felt confident and emboldened and immensely blessed.

He was paying for his selections as I exited the store. A minute or two later he called out across the parking lot. “Would you like to grab a cup of coffee?”

I waved. “Thanks for the invite, but I don’t think my husband would appreciate that.”

He laughed and nodded. “I understand completely. He’s a lucky man, your husband.”

I laughed with him. “You have a good day and happy birthday to your mother!”

Sliding into the driver’s seat of my car, I did a little shoulder shimmy as Ginuwine’s song, Pony, blasted out of the speakers. I sat in all that confidence for a good, few minutes, then I looked at myself in the rear-view mirror.

I’d left the house and forgotten to comb my hair and I hadn't put on an ounce of makeup!

Confidence is everything!