My parents were born and raised in Savannah, GA. Products of Alfred E. Beach and Sol C. Johnson high schools. My mom was good friends with my Dad’s sister, and that’s how they met. They got married in GA when my mom was 18, and thus began our family.
In the early 60s, my mom’s older brothers moved up north, and then sent for my dad so that he could find a job. Once he got settled, he sent for my mom and my brothers. I often wonder how he felt about leaving his family. All of my mom’s siblings moved up north except for two. Most of my Dad’s siblings stayed down south.
My parents came up north with a few dollars and a lot of dreams. They worked hard, scratched and saved, and eventually bought the 3 bedroom house where we spent most of our childhood. They moved into a neighborhood that was predominantly Jewish, but was slowly transitioning. We sort of had a black Brady Bunch life. LOL! Our street was tree lined, we could play outside all day without any worries.
My mom worked at the hospital as a nursing assistant. My dad was able to start his own business. It was a small corner store that served the neighborhood. As a kid, if you came in a few cents short of what you needed for your candy/chips/gum, he was likely to just take what you had and let you go. He used to cook THE GREATEST ribs and sell them on Sundays. I’d be sitting in church with my mouth watering. Like, c’mon pastor! Jesus wept. Amen! I’m hungry! If he caught you stealing, he’d sit you down and give you a speech about how what you did affected his business and the community, well before he’d call the police.
They didn’t spoil us, but they tried to give us all of what we needed and a lot of what we wanted, within limits. I remember when I started piano lessons, my teacher told them I was doing well, but I’d do even better with a piano at home. I’m quite sure, during that lovely Reaganomics economy, that a Baldwin piano was NOT in the budget. And yet, one day after school, there it was. My piano teacher hooked them up with someone who was moving down south, and she didn’t want to pay to move her piano. They saved up everything they could, and bought the piano from her. It’s still in my mom’s basement now.
My mom has always been a pretty touch cookie. I can count on one hand the times I’ve really seen her cry. I hated it every time. In my mind she was always this invincible woman. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that the same basic challenges I had to face, she had to face. But she did it with a husband and five kids. There have been days where I just came home and dissolved in tears…I can’t imagine trying to hold all that together with 5 kids needing something from me. I get my independent streak from her. HH would say that it’s stubbornness. Perhaps. LOL
My dad was such a proud man…right up to the end. I think he put a lot of pressure on himself and any time he messed up he would be so upset with himself but he would hold all of that inside. Unfortunately, his outlets were unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes and drinking. But, he taught me a lot of things. He used to read to me as a child…no matter how tired he’d be from his work day, if I was at that door with a book, he’d read it. We had a bit of a disconnect in my mid 20s, but I never stopped loving him. Once I turned 30, I started to really talk to him and learn all about his life…I’m so happy I did. Most of all, he loved my mom and he loved us kids. He often talked about how proud he was of the 5 of us. How he was glad we were close and really didn’t fight, and how he just wanted us to have a good life.
I still miss his big laugh. Doesn’t seem like its been a year and a half since he left us. I’m so glad he met HH before he left this earth. Mostly I’m thankful that he showed me what I should look for in a good man: someone who loves his wife, loves his kids, and works hard to take care of his family and his responsibilities. That’s what he was. 🙂