By: Mia L. Hazlett
How did you survive seeing your father killed? This was more of a follow-up question to, after you’ve seen your brothers killed and sister raped, following your own rape? It didn’t seem logical to even ask these series of questions. But in just two letters my grandmother explained her entire life to me, and our dysfunctional relationship. In just those two letters, twenty-two years were forgiven.
I wasn’t in the mood to read another letter. My mundane routine work day did little to distract the images I carried of the very descriptive lynching of my great grandfather. They haunted my dreams, morning coffee, bus ride, and my two business meetings. Even though my curiosity screamed for the small envelope marked with a number three, I had to take a break. I needed to digest my ancestry.
Combined, the stories as a whole were tragic. But, my mother’s story was most spirit breaking. She existed in silent grace, but the flood gates were finally lifted the other night when she let me inside of her reality. My consoling was not offered to my mother, but to a woman who had suffered the generational abuse from a mother who was defined by a lifetime of tragedy. Unfortunately, my grandmother was actually raising her daughter the best she knew how. She offered her the love that my great grandmother offered her, very little.
And as my mother revealed her upbringing to me, I realized the hero within her. For although she didn’t know it, she had broken the generational curse. Although my grandmother and mother had no one to run to in the midst and anger of their mothers’ tirades, I did. After spending a day with Ms. Macy, I was able to run into the loving comforting arms of my mother. I was showered with kisses and hugs. There was not a day that passed that my mother didn’t compliment my beauty. I never comprehended my grandmother’s hatred, but I relished in my mother’s love.
I sat in the darkness of my living room and called my mother. I wanted to know how she was able to a offer a love she had never experienced. My mother answered and filled my ears with motherhood wisdom. She preached the importance of what I had always grown up with, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Although love was absent from her mother, it was abundant in the next door neighbor that took care of her after school. It was spoken to her through words of encouragement from a third grade teacher. It was “you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up,” from the man at the sixth grade assembly. Most of all it was a grandmother that told her on her deathbed, “Don’tcha be like me. When you have yourself a baby, you make dat baby your heart.” So maybe it was the woman that began it that truly ended the curse. Because there was not a day that went by that I didn’t feel I was my mother’s heart.