When I started this blog, I wanted to make it a little different. My goal was to inspire and motivate people in a world that can seem a little crazy at times. The one thing I wanted to do is interview people who inspire and help me on my journey. I am proud and so excited to share with you the woman who has always been a true inspiration to me: my mother. She is my phenomenal woman.
I sat down with her on the second day of her visit with me in Sacramento. I did not tell her what I was doing because I wanted her to just be in the moment and not think too much. Below is my first blog post interview with my beautiful mother.
Brama (your mother) passed in 1981 when I was 13 years old. From what I can remember, Brama was always a happy person. Please tell me briefly about your childhood.
I was the youngest of two girls (my sister lived in Virginia with my grandmother) and I spent most of my time in the house. I wasn’t allowed to hang on the corners (I was very sheltered) with other kids. I listened to big band music and read a lot. Every Sunday included Sunday school and mid-day church service. My mother made sure we had dinner as a family every evening.
I know Brama was an active member of Southern Baptist Church- she served on the usher board and was highly respected. What did Brama teach you about faith, church, or inspiration?
She taught me that having a close relationship with God was a necessity for your well being. I prayed as a child and still pray.
What was the best lesson your mother taught you?
First, she taught me to be a young lady (the way I spoke and dressed) and second to be a great parent.
You basically raised five kids as a single mother. Was it hard? How did you do it?
It wasn’t hard at all. Fortunately my husband was alive for the first sixteen years of their lives. Back in those days, kids were more obedient and neighbors worked together to raise kids.
I believe most of my positive attitude comes from you. Our household was generally a fun place to live. How did you stay so upbeat and positive all the time?
I knew I had five kids who depended on me and I had to do whatever it took for them to grow up and be happy as responsible human beings. Life is just too short not to be happy.
I remember when the gas and electric was turned off and you still never got upset. Why didn’t you get upset?
It was part of life. My kids were safe and I knew it was a temporary thing.
When I was growing up you gave me tons of advice. Here are a few examples: “Never depend on your sisters to do anything for you”. So I learned how to sew and cook. My favorite-“I don’t care what you become in life…a doctor, teacher, lawyer, or garbage man, but whatever you do be the best one there is”. That has motivated me everyday of my life. Why did you tell me those things? Did you think I was listening?
My expectations for you as well as for all my children were: go to school, get a degree, raise a family and buy a home. These are the basic things that you need to survive. I really didn’t know if you were listening but every mother hopes that her children listens to her advice and encouragement.
What is the one thing you want most for all your children?
The one thing I wanted for my children is to be happy.
Let’s fast forward a bit to 1993/1994 and the day I told you I was gay. I wrote you a letter and mailed it to you even though we lived five minutes away from each other. Do you remember the day you read the letter and our conversation? How did you feel at that moment? (My eyes begin to water as I read her the question.)
I was angry because I felt that our relationship was close enough that you would have come to me and told me.
You told me a few things in that telephone conversation…..you said you wanted me to have children, get married to a woman, it was not the life you would have picked for me but you loved me and would always love me. How do you feel today?
I accept you as you are and I’m proud of the man you have become.
I talk to many men and women and about coming out and their main question is, “How did you tell your parents?” I tell them the story of how I told you and then I say, “As long as my mother and God know and love me, I’m good!” What advice would you give other parents?
I would tell them to love their child and it will all work out.
I have seen you interact with many gay and lesbian individuals over the years and you treat them all the same: with love. How long did it take you to come to this place in your life?
I am not one to judge people. For as long as I can remember, I have always accepted people as they are. So, when I had five children my goal was to raise them and teach them to keep God first, love one another and to be the best they could be. That’s all a parent can do.