My mother was a warm-hearted and quite spirited woman who loved helping and caring for others. She seldom held a long conversation with anyone, but when she did open up, you’d better be ready to receive a lot of information. In fact, it was better to just take notes. I remember thinking, “how does she know all these things, and who told her all this stuff?” I remember her doing house cleaning for a young lady who lived across town in what people referred to as “the well-to-do neighborhood. Her take-home pay had to be less than ten dollars a week, but it helped to make our ends meet. She and my father had separated by this time, and she was left to care for us on her own and frankly, she did a great job of it.
My mother would sometimes place others needs before her own, but not before her children. There were seven of us, all girls living under one roof. As siblings, we had our ups and downs, but overall we were very close at heart and learned to look out for one another. We were raised among women who strongly believed in God; I mean sincere, hard-core “Jesus worshippers” and we were introduced to Christ at an early age. My mother and her siblings alone could conduct an entire church service. There were Aunt Addie Lee, Aunt Thera, Aunt Eula, Aunt Irene, Aunt Fannie, Aunt Zenobia, Aunt Geneva and one brother, Uncle Willis who is currently a Pastor in Detroit Michigan.
Those women taught us girls how to be young ladies, how to push past the inner circle and learn to be strong and courageous. They realized that women were important figures when it came down to gender-related situations and problems. There were few things more important than having a good sound support system of women growing up as a young girl. We were taught to have respect for ourselves and others and more importantly, self-discipline. They taught us the importance of getting a good education and how to be selective in choosing a soul mate.
Observing how these women made good homemakers and raised their children is a prime example that they knew that being a mother was much more than bringing babies into the world and raising them, but accepting the challenge and responsibility of raising good human beings. These women showed us how important it is to be the change that we hope to see in the world. Today I say to my mother (Jettie Carter Ferrell) and her siblings, thank you for instilling all the good things you had to offer. I’ve made my mistakes, but frankly, I really didn’t turn out bad at all.