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Thursday, November 23, 2023

Momma, I can can see clearly now

 I would give it all up to go back to that dark day to say grace with Momma. 

Holidays have a way of lifting and breaking people, the lifting is easy, the breaking, well that takes more time. I am as blessed as any man, sitting around the fire here with our daughter, peeling potatoes with Carolyn, and singing Happy Chapin’s Greatest Hits on Vinyl. Loving every tune… Mr. Tanner, Cats in the Cradle, Taxi, 30,000 Pounds of Bananas, and All My Life is a Circle played. War is everywhere, but here at 110, we are safe, fed, warm, and blessed as can be. 

But then reflections come around, to that not quite 12 years old, Father abandoned, Thanksgiving before eviction. In every friend’s home, their Turkeys roast. Momma put our Thanksgiving feast of spaghetti and sauce on the table, reached across the table, and said join me in saying Grace. Now, I am not the soul I am today. I was just a boy consumed by anger and confusion of his life turned upside down. I yelled at her, saying it sucks, we have NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING, to be thankful for, and ran out of the kitchen. Put on my sneakers and ran out of the house. Leaving her alone. Alone, when she needed me most. Alone, like a million mothers. 

Kicking garbage cans, blaming my mother for everything. Knowing quite well, he left the month before when I jumped up and took the slap meant for her. Screaming I won’t let you hit her…he would be gone the next day, not even a note. As cruel as it sounds, he left for me, understanding his addictions, hate, and abuse would end up being on me. She knew; she accepted, she understood goodness in his leaving.

It would take 2 years of being homeless, and 15 more years for this boy to understand. He would come home to die, and she would take her grown son to visit him. Why, are we doing do, I hate him. He is your father, and if you love me, then you must forgive him, and love him. She said to go into the chapel for a bit. Looking up at the cross, I say he is not deserving. But, who is deserving? I pray forgive me, forgive him, forgive us all, Lord. Manhood is never easy, never simple, but it does come around.

I man up, go up the elevator to see this man, hold his hand, and say the word through crying eyes, I love you, Dad. That moment turns the tide, and I start a new manhood journey to being a better me. Momma knew it wasn't about her or him, it was always about their boy.  Not every I love you is real, comes easy, but every real I love you makes a boy a man. 

Thanksgiving regrets, after that Thanksgiving tantrum, I returned home to find Momma sitting in the dark, drinking her tea, smoking her cigarette, and crying. I wanted so much to run to her and say I am sorry Momma. I was just an angry confused little boy and rather than run to her I ran to my bed. I was not the man I am today; this man's stuff comes too late. I would give all I own to go back, say grace, and hug her until my arms were too weary to hold on. Things would change, the sun would come out again, and an angry and confused little boy would eventually become the loving son his mother needed. 

I love holidays, but memories do come around to students lost, Francisco and Alex, dear, sisters Jessica and Maryellen, Niece Cathy, and dearest brothers from other mothers, Jose, Anthony, and Michael. Greif comes around, but I am not the boy, I am a man grown to understand that the sun shines on many beautiful holidays. I am the man blessed with still more good ones to come. I am thankful for this day. I send my Thanksgiving wishes for peace in Ukraine, the Middle East, and every corner of the world. May peace and love rain down on all people, everywhere, all faiths, non-believers, races, and LGBTQ sisters and brothers.  Someday I too will be no more, but love is infinite, it has a way of hanging on long after. I know the love we share matters more than hate, and it is love that carries through. Momma, knew that and made sure I did as well. She left me a lifetime of her mother's love to hold me strong. Thank you, Momma. 

Today is good, today is blessed here at 110. I have only one regret, one I would give all I own to change. I would give it all up, to go back to that dark kitchen to say Grace with Momma and enjoy that most blessed Thanksgiving feast of spaghetti and sauce. Embracing her, loving her, saying Momma I finally understand. 

Blessed by the highs and the lows of a blessed loving mother who knew the sun would come out tomorrow. Cling to the good ones, God sent them to hold us strong. 

Wishing all a million more blessings,                                                                                                     Jesse the boy who understands 

If you want to know the tune on my mind this holiday. It is Jimmy Cliff " I can see clearly now" 

If I could time back time

Momma's boy until we are no more


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