Chapter 5 – The Loving Daughter


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A Desire So Strong

Chapter 5 – The Loving Daughter


“Kira, where you at?” Marie called after looking into Kira’s bedroom and not finding her.
          “Om in the den Ma,” she yelled.
          Marie made her way to the den picking up cups, glasses, a plate, and an empty bag of used-to-be chips. By the time she made it through the den and into the kitchen, she looked like a bus boy for the busiest restaurant in town, and she was looking for the nearest handle of a frying pan.
          Marie laughed as her thoughts took her back to those country days as a child in North Carolina. The older women would sit around the tobacco barns talking while they waited for the tractor driver who brought the loads of tobacco leaves for hanging. Marie would listen as much as she could before her mother made her go wait with the rest of the children.
          “Yeah, Joseph came in late last night,” Marie heard one of the women say. “And he was drunk all up and everything. I grabbed a frying pan and sobered him right on up.” Marie had thought it was one of the funniest things she’d ever heard, and she laughed right along with the rest of the women. I didn’t know a frying pan could straighten folk up she’d thought. From then to now, she’d joke about the usage of a frying pan as a means for straightening folk out, especially the children.
          Smiling, she made her way out of the kitchen and back to the den. She stopped in front of Kira, propped up on the sofa, feet and all, yapping on the phone and trying to peer around Marie to see the television. “Move Ma!” she snipped sitting up with her hair standing straight up on her head. Marie didn’t move but just stood there looking at the hollering mess.
          “Boo? Why does your room look like the North, South, East, and West Winds called a mandatory meeting in there?”
          “Oh Lord Kee-Kee, girl, let me call you back cause Mama is ‘bouts to trip.”
          Sho’ is, Marie said to herself. “Om ‘bouts to trip right over this table and onto you.”
          “Ma, dis is my room, and I oughts to be able to keep my room any way that I want to,” Kira said strolling off to her room as if she were in charge.
          “Correction little girl—this room,” Marie said standing in the doorway of the room, “just happens to be my room which is on loan to you ‘til you get your hind parts out, and it’s going to be kept the way I love it and the way I say it is going to be kept. Why can’t you ever make up the bed? What’s the purpose of dresser and chest drawers? What the Sam Hill is a hamper for? Why were hangers invented?”
          “Ma, number one, Om not a little girl, and number two, your room is over dare” Kira said pointing to Marie’s room, and number three . . .”
          “Number three,” Marie emphasized, “is you ‘bouts to tell Jesus and dem I said what’s up if you keep running your mouth—dat’s number three Boo. Shoot, Om spose to be praying. Lord, give me some of your strength so I can knock her head completely off—not half way God, but all the way off. In Jesus name,” Marie prayed.
          “You see, Ma. Dat’s what Om talk’n ‘bout. You always want to whup up on somebody like Om a child. Ain’t no baby no moe, and you cane keep treat’n me like one. How you gone be all up in da room with God wearing dis big halo,” Kira asked extending her hands inches from her head, “then come out here and have deese horns dat stretch way pass heaven—God and all the angels—starting mess with me?” she wailed.
“Well baby,” Marie said with a chuckle, “I guess the same way you can go to church with me on Sundays and can’t nobody see the preacher cause your halo done took up the whole sanctuary, and before you out the door, the heat from your tongue is melting folks weaves and hats and . . .”
          “That ain’t funny Ma,” she growled.
          “Oma tell you what ain’t gonna be funny young lady,” Marie said sternly. “It isn’t going to be funny, my catching a case because you want to lay claim to being grown, a concept about which I believe you have misconceptions. It isn’t going to be funny young lady that in your rebelliousness, you’ll miss out on some very imperative teachings and instructions that will be profitable to you when you do actually reach adulthood. Stop rushing your youth away Boo. What’s so great about being grown up that you and others like you want to hurry up and get there? The best years of your life, or rather the easiest years of your life, are the years where all you have to worry about is keeping a room clean and washing a few dishes—like the ones you’re going to get to after you finish this room. The years when the most required of you from God and godly parents is to number one, serve God, number two, obey your parents, and number three, get your education.”
          “Yeah, yeah, yeah, Ma, and be like you—always stuck in da house? Go to church, go to da grocery store, go to work—don’t’ do nothing fun cause you a Christian. Don’t date—go dancing—don’t do nothing,” Kira chimed.
          “Who told you that this is all Christianity allows?” Marie asked frowning.
          “You did, Ma!” Kira exclaimed.
          “When Kira? When have I ever told you that these are the only things a Christian can do?”
          “Ma, you didn’t say it wit’ your mouth,” she said sighing,
          “You say it wit’ the way you live.”
          Frowning, Marie looked at her daughter.
          “Kira, have you ever stopped to think that maybe I’ve chosen to have a limited life—that maybe I’ve decided for myself that I didn’t or don’t want a whole lot of this, that, and the other? What makes you think that it’s because of being a Christian that I don’t do the things you think I should do or need to do?
          To me Sweetie,” Marie went on, “my life isn’t boring. I have less worry and stress having limitations. As far as dating—you’ve seen me date a few times, you’ve seen me in a relationship, and you’ve also seen the results from them.
Simply, because I want to, I’ve chosen to wait on that for a while, and I’ve chosen to wait for both personal and spiritual reasons. I’ll tell you what—get with God and ask Him what things are allotted to you as a Christian by way of what you call fun, and get back with me. You never answered my question about the grown thang. What is it about being grown?”
          “Ma, you making me feel like Om in school.”
“Kira, all of life is a school. Grown folk know this, and children have to learn it. I’m gonna leave you to your chores. Excuse me—your responsibilities and perhaps we’ll talk later?”
          “I’m goin’ out Ma,” Kira said.
          “You’re doing what?” Marie asked
          “Goin’ out.”
          “What?” Marie asked again.
          With much sarcasm Kira asked, “Mother, can I please go out with Kee-Kee and Juan to the movies and the roller rink?”
          “I’ll let you know in a little bit,” Marie answered.




          She made busy doing house work—a little dusting here, a little dusting there. Clean this window, clean that one. All the while, she listened to Kira complaining in her room. Marie fluffed this pillow and then that pillow while listening to Kira talking smack in her room. Marie put a few pieces of clothes in the dryer and hung a couple of pieces over the bathroom door. When she realized that Kira was finally quiet, she was grateful for the silence and whispered her thanks. “Yes, God is real.” But within minutes of her praise of thanks, the silence was broken. “Oh no. The door is opening. She’s coming out”
Marie whispered. “One, two . . .
          “Ma, one thang ‘bout being grown” Kira began. Shoot, I didn’t make it to three this time, Marie said to herself. “ . . . is that you don’t have to answer to nobody but you. And you get to do what’chuwant, when you want, and how you want. You get to wear what’chuwant and drive your own car—just be free!”
          “Well, I must not be grown then Marie said, “because I am still giving an account to others and I’m still being told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it—and not by one person but several. Things even tell me what to do.”
          Kira looked at Marie questioningly. “Well sweetie,” she began, answering the look, “the light man says, ‘Marie, pay a hundred and forty-five dollars on the fifteenth either by cash, check, or credit card.’ And the rent man says, ‘Oh yeah, Marie, pay your twelve hundred dollars by the first and no later than the fifth or you’ll have to add an additional fifty dollars.’ And the boss says, ‘Be here at 8 a.m., and get out by 5 p.m., and no overtime.’ The car says, ‘put gas in the tank,’ and the clothes say, ‘Oh, you need to get detergent.’ And . . .”
          “Ma, Om not talk’n ‘bout dem thangs. Om talk’n ‘bout the freedom to just do what you want—like you say, ‘Oma catch a movie today’ and you can just jump up and go. Or ‘Oma chill wit’ my friend today and you go. Or ‘I want to wear this dress today’ and you can get it and put it on because you want too and ain’t got to hear no lip ‘bout it. You get to choose your own friends wit’’out somebody try’n to tell you dat you can’t have dem for a friend and can spend your money like you want too—stuff like that. You ain’t got no curfew. That’s what Om talk’n ‘bout.”
          Marie just laughed and laughed, but Kira didn’t find anything comical in what she’d said. “Girl, I don’t think anybody on the face of this earth has that kind of freedom. What you’re describing is fantasy, baby, that’s not reality. If
I say, ‘Oh, I’m going to catch a movie today,’ my pocketbook will say, ‘Girl, you’d better hold your hands out and pray somebody throws you a movie.’ Or the car will tell me, ‘You can catch a movie if you want to, but then three days this week me and you ain’t gonna be companions—it’ll be you, Pat, and Tom—my left and right feet.”
          “Ma, you know what bites my butt ‘bout y’all old folks?” Kira asked steaming.
          Marie kept trying to hold a straight face as she imagined the many things she’d like Kira’s butt to be bitten with.
          “What Boo?” she asked Kira smiling.
“Y’all old folk thank y’all know e’rythang, and we young adults,” Kira emphasized, “don’t know nothing.”
          “Kira, regardless of what I say in here today, it is most evident that you have decided to embark on this I’m-my-own person- and-can-do-what-I-want-to-do-when—I’m-grown journey, so I’ll just say one or two things. Oh, but first I’ll say, sit your hind parts back down if you want to walk out of here with your friends this evening without them having to help you.
          The thing that frightens me the most about your generation Sweetie,” Marie shared with Kira, “is your inability to separate fantasy and reality. Your generation walks around in a delusion. You guys already have painted this pretty picture of life in your minds, and you sit back with great expectancy, confident that what you have put together in your minds—the way it has been orchestrated in your minds—is the way things are going to be carried out with no ifs, ands, or buts. In this delusion, my dear child, your generation thinks that you’re in charge, in control, calling the shots, and above God and every authority that falls in rank by ordination under God. Kira, because of these delusions, much of your generation will see early graves. Don’t be in that number.
          A sure guarantee is this: Disappointment will greet you because of these delusions. Bitterness, anger, and resentment will greet you because of these delusions. Drug addictions, alcoholism, murder, theft, domestic violence, and gang banging will overtake your generation because of these delusions. Many horrors and tragedies will fall upon your generation because of its deluded impressions of reality.”
          Marie sighed sadly. “There is a saying you young people use that makes you feel cool. And I agree with it one hundred percent. You’re right with what you’re saying, but you’re wrong in what you’re thinking.”
          Until now, Kira had held her head down while Marie had been talking.
          “And what say’n is that, Mama?” she asked with more sarcasm than Marie cared for.
          “Off the hook. Think about that before you use it again,” Marie said. “Think about what you’re really saying.” Changing the subject, Marie added, “If you start on that head now, you might get it together before Jesus comes back,” Marie said playfully.
          Kira knew that this was her cue to be dismissed. She walked back to her room to start getting ready to go out all the while thinking to herself, Oma show Mama that she’s wrong this time.



          Marie started to vacuum. The things she said to Kira began to replay themselves in her mind. “That was some good stuff we said in there,” she said to the Lord.
          “It was truth spoken,” the Lord replied. “She’s going to try to prove us wrong you know. Really, it’s not so much us as it is me,” he clarified. “Marie, what would you have done if I’d told you to go get a frying pan?”
          Marie bent over the vacuum cleaner laughing. “Lord I probably would have wet myself!”
          “And Kira too!” God said laughing. “You know she’s a lot like you were and sometimes can be now Marie.”
          “Ah, Lord, here you go.” Marie teased. “You’re right of course. Why in the world didn’t somebody tell me it would be like this?”
          “Someone tried Marie.”
          “What’cha talk’n ‘bout Lord?” she asked teasingly.
          “Remember, ‘Dear Mom’?”
          “Oh, yeah,” she said putting the vacuum cleaner away. She went into her study and grabbed her poetry book. “Ah, here it is,” she said, no longer thumbing through the notebook. “I should’ve made a table of contents. Nah—too much like work.”
          “Well, then keep working your fingers over time Marie,” God teased. “Read the poem aloud so you can hear it,” the Lord instructed. And so she did:

Dear Mom

                           I left home when I was young, wanting to be grown.
                           I wanted to prove you wrong by making it on my own.
                           I just knew things would be easy: At least that’s what my mind would say.
                           But life presented itself to me in a really cold way.
                           At first things were easy, you know; things just fell into place.
                           Then suddenly life gripped me and shattered my smiling face.
                           The man that said he loved me and would stay by my side,
                           For another woman, he left me; his vows were just lies.
                           Oh, that was just the beginning of what I was to endure;
                           Life had more than what I knew to present me, for sure.
                           The babies were always screaming, yanking, calling my name;
                           Had they not tuckered out, I’d probably have gone insane.
                           The pressures of the bills began to cloud my day,
                           And trying to juggle very little money left me in a weary way. Being grown
                           has shown that it is not what I thought;
                           I shouldn’t have rushed my youth away—I should have accepted what it
                           Like the scolding and the lectures which were for my own good,
                           I know now that you were doing the things a mother should.
                           Now many nights I lay awake sometimes sad and much alone,
                           Actually thinking and recognizing how good life was at home.
                           I too now find myself wishing more than once in a while,
                           That I had kept my hind parts at home and stayed your little child.
                           Life probably had better offers than the ones I chose;
                           Yet because I wanted to be so grown, to this, I’ve been exposed.
                           Don’t get me wrong; there have been some good times even in this mess;
                           However, had I waited like you wanted me too, then good would have
                           been the best.
                           Oh yeah, the things you did that I disliked, vowing I’d not do with my
                           Well, dear Mom, I must admit, I’m doing the same as you did.
                            I’m sure that once my kids are older, they’ll think just like I thought,
                           And mentally rush their youth away in search of what I sought.
                           But I’ll place this letter to you on the walls of their rooms,
                           Praying they will see why they shouldn’t leave the nest too soon.
                           I pray they will give me time to teach what life has in store,
                           For those of them who rush into adulthood to explore.
                           I pray they let me teach them the principles for having a good life,
                           And not jump ship before their time, landing in bitterness and strife.
                          Mom, I thank you for the things you taught me before I left home:
                          For chastisement and correction, for love that was shown.
                           I’m sorry I didn’t stick around to receive more of what you knew,
                          To grow in your wisdom and knowledge like I was supposed to.
                          This one thing I say, from the depths of my heart:
                          Things taught I did receive, and they’ll never, ever part.
                          If ever asked my regrets, I’ll gladly tell the truth,
                          A greatest of regrets is the wasting of my youth.

 “Well Marie, looks like you oughts to get to nailing,” the Lord said with a chuckle.
          “Looks like you’re right again, Lord, as always. I did write in the poem that I would put this letter on the walls of their rooms. Now, Lord, you know Kira is gonna tear my mess up.”
          “Yes, Lord?’
          “Why was the copier invented?”
          Marie smiled to herself and lingered a few more minutes with her memories. She laughed aloud remembering Kira’s reaction to the “Dear Mom” poem on her wall. Just as she’d said to the Lord, Kira had torn up the poem. And not only was that poem torn, but also the poem Marie had written later that evening entitled, “Tell the Truth.” It read:

            Whoever said that being grown was a life of party and dance; whoever said it was a life
                           filled with splendor and sweet romance;
            Whoever said it meant doing all you want to do, catering to the wants and needs of
                           nobody else but you; whoever told you that being grown puts you on Easy
                           Street filled your head with lies and hasn’t prepared you for what you’ll meet.
            Being grown is far from the illusions of the mind, the pretty painted pictures of freedoms
                          and good times.
            Greater the pains in life once you are grown, when many anxieties greet you, and you
                           find yourself alone.
            Greater the responsibilities once you are grown.
            You’ll have to stand the challenges; there’s no more running back home.
            You’ll find the truths of being grown and experience what it means;
                           and depending upon what life’s offers you take, you may see shattered dreams.
            Life’s journey, like the course of a ship at sea, isn’t always smooth sailing.
            Whoever says differently; its darkened lies they’re telling.


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