Friday, May 11, 2012


I was startled by a loud noise coming from outside.  It was 6:30 am.
"What was that?" I shrieked, as I ran to the window.
"No.  Stay inside,"  mother ordered.  "Those are gunshots."

That's how the first morning of my visit began.  It was a long time since I'd been in the Bronx.  I returned to visit my mother whose doctor had called me in New Mexico to tell me she was blind.  But she could see better than me.  At least that's what she said and actually demonstrated.  Somehow the doctor's diagnosis did not fully manifest until many years later.  But at that time, she walked through the city streets with the smarts and vision of a gangster.

"Put your money in your bra, like me.  Just keep a few dollars in the purse you carry.  If they snatch it, they won't get mad that it's empty.  'Cause they could come back and beat you out of spite.  Hold it under your arm, tight.  Hurry, there comes the bus.  Got your change ready?"

She knew how to navigate those mean streets.  I had lost my skills, if I ever had any.  I was young when I left New York initially, and though I returned, I lived out in the suburbs, away from the inner city of my youth.  Obviously, my obligatory weekly calls to mother were insufficient to help me know the woman she'd become.

Mother survived cancer, but was left with a mild disability which qualified her to become the youngest resident in a building for seniors.  The lobby was the place to hangout and talk about the kids,  brag about their accomplishments, feel sorry for those whose kids did not call or visit, decide what help someone may need, and grieve if anyone had left.  I was surprised at how popular mother was.  It didn't take long to understand why.

The lady next door could barely get up.  She was morbidly obese, had one of her legs amputated and suffered from diabetes and other ailments.  Mother checked on her daily to see if the lady needed a favor.  She always spent a few moments keeping her company.  Other neighbors visited mother to borrow the proverbial cup of sugar but mostly to chat because they genuinely liked her.  She gave out warmth and love like she was the building's guru.

I was fascinated by her life and surprised that I was actually enjoying myself as I followed mother throughout her day. When we walked down the avenue I was impressed by all the people she knew who greeted her with genuine affection.

I recall the street vendor who had three children and whose wife had leukemia; the lady who lived in the projects and was known throughout the neighborhood as a healer; the woman who hardly had time to talk because her husband was old and his mind was going.  I especially remember Elena.  We saw her from a distance and mother insisted we quicken our step to catch up.

"She's a little different," mother said with a strange look on her face.  "I don't think Elena is really her name and I don't know what she is.  But, she's a really nice person.  She comes over and cuts my hair once a month.  I love talking to her.  And wait 'til you see how pretty she makes herself up.  Her hair and nails are gorgeous."

Elena's smile was infectious and she did indeed use make-up in a most artistic manner.  Before we parted, she bent down to hug me.  Elena was a huge, loving, delightful transvestite.

I'm sure my mother never knew words like: going with the flow, confronting challenges, accepting difference, celebrating diversity and some other things I thought I learned in school or other intellectual or spirituality based circles.  I suspect she thought she had nothing to teach me.

Yet, during those few days mother modeled and ingrained these valuable lessons in my memory.  And I strive to thank and honor her by imitation, if that's possible.


                                                            Submitted to Mama Kat's  
    The Prompt: Share a lesson you learned from your Mother that still sticks with you to this day.


  1. wow...your mother sounds like a really special, interesting and warm-hearted person... and i'm not wondering at daughter...smiles

  2. smiles...your mother gave you some beautiful gifts...i like too the people you touch on along the way as we interact with those around us speaks volumes..wonderful mothers day post too..

  3. Dear Myrna, I am back blogging. Had a wonderful time off line, but now I am all alone, missing my husband.:(
    Beautiful tale of your memories. I guess our parents are our teachers and remain that way through our lives.
    I hope you have been well, looking forward to catch up with you and everyone else and to start blogging on regular bases again.;)

  4. What a wonderful, strong, loving woman your mother is, Myrna! You have written a beautiful tribute to her here. Just in time for Mothers' Day!

  5. Your mum is amazing Myrna. I'm sure she and my mum are now together happy to see we both connected :)

  6. Myrna,

    I enjoyed reading the 'adventures' as well as something about the life of your mother. She seems to have been a real character, with wit and wisdom.
    I hope that life is getting better for you Myrna, in spite of the recent loss of this dear lady.
    Blessings to you,

  7. That was a GREAT post about your mom. I laughed out loud about Elena. If I was going through a bad neighborhood, I want want your mom covering my back! A ninja warrior for sure!

  8. Such a beautiful tribute here ,Myrna! Yes, there are a lot that you can get from your mother's ways with people. You have been blessed with a wonderful companion. A great write, Ma'am. A nice flow reading it!


  9. Your post is beautiful. I could see every moment. God bless, friend.

  10. It's wonderful that you could write this tribute to your mother. I loved it that the transvestite (or maybe "she" was a transexual) bent down to hug you.

  11. My friend,
    Mothers are very SPECIAL...and yours was certainly one of them! Very nice story about a special lady. I am sure you are a reflection of her. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  12. Your mom was some lady! This is a beautiful tribute.

  13. What a beautiful tribute to your mother. She sounds like an amazing woman who just naturally is able to navigate life no matter the circumstances. Thank you for sharing.

  14. What a beautiful tribute to your mother. She sounds like an amazing woman who just naturally is able to navigate life no matter the circumstances. Thank you for sharing.

  15. your mother sounds like an exceptionally positive and wise woman. i really like your how it was about learning to live.

  16. What an amazing woman! A lovely tribute to your mom, Myrna

  17. You had me in tears with this, Myrna. I can see where you got your thoughtful and gentle ways from. ♥

  18. This was quite a lovely read, Myrna. Your mother sounds like a source of joy and light -- someone we all need to have around.

    I find that I have renewed appreciation for my own mother after I've been away from her a bit. I see her with fresh eyes and even marvel at the fact that she's the woman who gave birth to me.

    Incidentally, I'm happy to be reading your words again. I used to run into you through G-Man's 55 words.

  19. Oh Myra, you writing gave me goosebumps. Thank you thank you...I was there with you. What an interesting place (and space) you Mother was in.... I know you're full of wisdom and kindness yourself....