Friday, January 9, 2009

Being Delores Lee Ellis

Mother to Son (and Daughter)

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

--Langston Hughes

Today is my mother's birthday. She passed nearly three years ago and we miss her incredibly. This 5’ 4” dynamic and loving woman of rich African and Cherokee heritage had 12 children who all "rise up and call her blessed."

There is no one person that I can say exhibited a better example of love, forgiveness, compassion, grace, persistence, and ethics. She was also incredibly intuitive and a brilliant writer and composer of songs.

We, her children, are immeasurably blessed because we were hers and she ours.

"Honor your mother and father."

We honored and loved her and she taught us to love and honor him, even though he was not present; she had every one of us with the one man she "loved next to God," but raised us alone.

We honor her through our work in ministry nationally and internationally as ordained ministers, missionaries, and chaplains.

We also honor her through our careers as professionals and entrepreneurs.

Her spirit lives very much in each of us.


dave wheeler said...

Judith, what a remarkable woman your Mother is. She lives on in each of her children and touches the lives of folks like me. I have gained a very deep and sincere admiration for women and men who are single parents and I have always found your stories about your growing up to be a very inspirational message.

Many of the folks I work with are working single parents and one can learn a great deal about strength, love, responsibility, and character of these special people (and in this case, their very special children!)

Thank you so much for sharing the story of your mother and your family. The lessons of life can be learned and shared to benefit others. This is a very special lesson that needs to be shared with parents everywhere.

judith ellis said...

Thank you, Dave. Mothers are special people and we as children of these give honor to whom honor is due. There is no doubt that my mother was indeed a remarkable woman, not only for what she did and said but also for what she did not do and did not say.

My mother NEVER once raised her voice in anger or NEVER once spoke ill of my dad, who was a great man too. His time in the war undoubtedly had some serious consequences for him. He remained a stately sensitive soul.

Up until the day my father died people were drawn to him. When my brothers went to California to indentify the body, derelicts came to them spoke of how he often feed them and professionals spoke of the kind words he always had for them. They did not know he had any children. He visited us twice a year or so; my mother loved him always and never married again.

Having both parents in the house is by all means the better situation; my mother never glorified being a single mother and measures should be taken to prevent such; she simply did what she had to do. She also believed in the importance of the male "voice" in raising children.

I too do not glorify single parenting, but support those mothers and fathers who find themselves in such situations. Avoiding the situation would be far better.

dave wheeler said...

Judith, your comments on the "glorification" of single parenting represent a side of this issue I had not even thought about.

Many I know have found themselves with that label not through choices of my own and although the focus is to the quality of life for working single parents and their families through information, advocacy, and change, the point is well taken and will be given much thought. Focusing on the "infrastructure" to make things better for those in the position is one thing. Making it a cultural norm or role that folks can play could have a broader, negative impact.

Thanks as always Judith for the new knowledge and things to think about.

As always, I have learned a

judith ellis said...

There are many young people today that think that its cool to have a child without being married. In fact, there have been reports of "packs" of young girls doing such. I may be old school but I think that the best place for children is in a home with a mother and a father. But this is not always possible.

My older single sister has fostered 30 kids and has sent most of them to college. Here she stepped in to help those kids who would have otherwise been abandoned. So, I do not only have the children of my siblings that call me Aunt Judith, but these 30 too. Four more (two sets of siblings) arrived recently and I went over and introduced myself with gifts in hand.

When they arrive they are always sad. The opulence of my sister's house means nothing to them. Even though they have come from rather bad situations to say the least, they are now away from home. We do what we can. A few weeks back I took the new arrivals out for pizza and this made them very happy. We are very much concerned about their well-being and love them.

dave wheeler said... of the elements I feel is missing in society today is "old school" GHT...Good Home Training! No Ma'am, there is not a single thing wrong with that approach and the absence of many of it's elements such as the place of worship, the folks on the block,and extended family do present a challenge.

Fostering 30 children is incredible and I'm thinking that anyone whose life is touched by your sister, Aunt Judith, or any of your siblings is better for the experience!

You are right about the need to not appear to glamorize or glorify the "role" of single parent but to support those who find themselves in that situation. I definitely will be mindful of that point as it goes to one of the root causes of why the war on poverty has yet to be won 44 years after this country declared war on it.

Thanks as always!

judith ellis said...

The war on poverty may not ever be won. Perhaps the idea, though laudable, needs to be reframed. Maybe it's simply a matter of what we worldwide, personally and collectively, can do beginning first in our communities. Charity begins at home and is shed abroad. But will we do this?