She raised three children on her own.
A single mom years before the term was defined.
My Uncle, my Aunt and my Mom
Were all raised by the Mother of all Mothers.
Her husband was an alcoholic.
He was also a, “smooth talkin’, handsome boy from South Carolina that swept me off
He just couldn’t stick around.
Love and commitment just wasn’t stronger than his need for drink.
She holds no grudge.
Never a bad word has she ever spoken about my Grandfather.
Ten dollars a month.
Five dollars for rent.
Four dollars for the train.
Left one dollar.
She raised children on one dollar a month.
Nana worked a second job to subsidize her income.
She worked at the bank during the day.
She cleaned rooms in the hotel at night and on weekends.
Mom remembers the cot she slept on in the kitchen of the hotel.
Nana would wake her when she was done working.
People saw how hard Nana worked.
People saw how Nana struggled.
They advised Nana to give the children up for adoption.
The children would be better off, of course.
They did not believe a single parent could raise children.
They did not believe a woman could raise children alone.
But, these people did not know.
They did not know Nana’s childhood.
Her own parents had abandoned her.
Arriving home from school one day,
She was told her family was gone.
She was to live with her Aunt.
Her parents took all of her siblings,
And left her there, all alone.
Nana was not going to leave her children.
One dark day,
With no food and no money,
Nana had an epiphany.
She lay on the bed in their one room apartment.
She deliberately faced the wall,
The children could not see her tears.
Her thoughts rolled around her head.
She decided the people were right.
She couldn’t raise her children by herself.
Her children would be better off with someone else.
She made the decision to give her children away.
There was a knock on their door.
Nana dried her tears and answered the door.
A woman stood there,
In her arms was a turkey.
She had a favour to ask of Nana.
She wanted Nana to help her by taking the turkey that would otherwise go to waste.
Nana knew right there and then,
Everything would be alright for the rest of her life.
That moment shaped Nana.
The woman gave her back her future.
Nana has lived by this motto since that day:
“If you have something to give. Give it.
You never know how much it could change a person’s life.”