I still hear you humming, Mama. The color of your song calls me home. The color of your words saying, “Let her be. She got a right to be different. She gonna stumble on herself one of these days. Just let the child be.” And I be, Mama. – Sonia Sanchez

My mother was a soprano.  Whenever I teased her challenging voice, she would laugh and say with Paulette’s famous attitude, “Baby, I know I can sing!” My case would then often weaken with the reminder of the one solo she performed in the church’s choir in the late 70’s. Although she wasn’t the best singer, my mother was never afraid to loudly belt out a tune. And she sang even louder for her three daughters. She was always my biggest fan. From the beginning, she supported and embraced every turn I made, even when it wasn’t on the “normal” path. She cheered regardless of my own strength and courage and she embraced my dreams like they were her own.

In my 20’s, it never registered that I would be forced to live without my mother even after losing my Grandmother and Aunt Margaret. I never applauded my Mama. Instead, I concentrated on perfecting my independence and placed the weight of the world on my shoulders. I became stuffed with the idea of success. I was so consumed with building and shaping my life that I disregarded the shoulders my mother had sacrificed for me to stand to receive the success. I knew she was responsible for the child I was, but often neglected to give her credit for the adult I be.

Four years ago today, my mother took her final breath with a smile. Knowing Mama, she was probably singing her way to the pearly gates.  Although she’s no longer singing loudly in this life, my ears are often comforted by the songs I once called out of tune and mistakes, but now know as love and sacrifice. I now recognize that her beautiful soprano voice continues to guide me, console me, and build me. Today at 35+, I cherish my Mama! I’ve embraced the many similarities we share: her features, her personality, her voice.  And I am so grateful for her lessons of teaching me to sing loud and proud. I love you, Mama!


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