They say, “you only get one mother,” but that’s not exactly true. As I approach 10 years since losing my mother, I reflect often on the lessons she taught me and the legacy she impressed upon me. Ada Delores Williams, 48 at the time, took me in at three months old and raised me with the same fierce passion and endless supply of unconditional love of a woman who had given birth. Ada couldn’t have children of her own, but she had a huge heart that she wanted to share with a little life. I’m so grateful that life was mine.
I was an infant when my mother took me on my first road trip. I learned my sense of adventure from her. She exposed me to culture through theater, museums, international dining and books. I remember my first flight to Canada, the summer stays in the Upper West Side and stepping on my first sound stage as a volunteer during a trip to Universal Studios at 10.
While my mother was a meek woman in public, always polite and making friends regularly as she commuted downtown on the DC Metro Bus to work for 30 years, or as a member at Tenth Street Baptist Church, behind closed doors she was full of life. She often played pranks on the family, busted out the latest dance moves to our surprise, sang in a beautiful soprano voice around the house and even drew figures with me during Sunday Service. (Father forgive us LOL)
My mother showed me that a woman isn’t defined by a narrow set of characteristics or tropes. Rather, women are multifaceted and should explore all interests. She stood a tiny 5’2 but I always remember the huge energy she’d bring to parent teacher meetings when she had to gather an administrator for being unfair with me or helping me to negotiate a better grade.
There are so many lessons I learned from my mother throughout the 23 years we had together and I have absolutely zero doubt that she’s not with me in spirit every day. I hear her voice vividly. But the greatest lesson I learned from my mother is the power of faith. She was sick most of her life. She was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, the respiratory disease that claimed the life of comedian Bernie Mac. Her life expectancy was only 30 years, but I will always remember her final days in in-home hospice months after her 70th birthday. She worshiped the Lord for a life well lived until she couldn’t speak. And when she couldn’t form words anymore, she’d throw up her hands in praise looking forward to the joy of eternal life. That image– this woman whom I saw as almost invincible, was wasting away yet still faithful enough to spend her final moments in the presence of the Lord. It is forever ingrained in my memory. The peace she had, the gratitude for a full life and the love of her family and friends she had collected through the years is one of the greatest lessons she taught me. I aim to radiate that type of energy in my everyday interactions and look forward to being so rooted in my own spirituality that no matter what, I can find the strength to show gratitude.
If you’re blessed enough to still have your mother present in the flesh, please, show her some love today and everyday.