I called my mother in Detroit at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning in June 2003, not thinking that a call that early would frighten her.
The minute message I had was nothing compared to her reaction to the call itself.
“Happy Father’s Day,” I told her, listening as she moved around on the other end to start her daily routine of coffee with the morning paper.
It was my way of paying tribute to the special black woman in my life.
Her response was classic: “You mean to tell me you scared me for that?” she questioned, trying to get her heart rate to stop racing.
I was sitting in a dorm room in Gibbs Hall – where I was living as a counselor, chaperoning several high school-aged males for a summer program. It was the first real money I was making after I’d lost my good paying job at the Home Depot. No matter what the bills were looking like, my mother was making sure they were all handled.
My parents separated shortly after my twin brother Michael and I were born, and she was the one who raised her three children on her own. When my father died in 1992, it was my mother who was forced to take on a role she never thought she’d have to: being a mother AND a father.
When Mike wanted to know about girls, my mother took on the father role and told him. She also made it her duty as a mother to tell him which ones to stay away from. When I joined the football team in high school, my “father” would accompany me to the practices, but my “mother” would appear before the end, cursing a coach for making me play through a nosebleed. When I decided to try tennis, it was “dad” who got out there with me on the court to work on my backhand. “Mom,” on the other hand, would make sure I wasn’t overdoing it by hitting the courts too much.
Women are doing things every day that make you wonder why they’re still not seen as equals in areas such as sports, the workplace and even in church. My mother taught me early on that a woman shouldn’t be looked at as the weaker sex. She fixed cars, computers, helped us move and build things. She also cooked meals, cleaned the house, gave hugs and offered encouragement.
She’s the reason I’m in love with black women.
Looking at the example I lived with until I came to FAMU, I see strength, courage under trying times and the ability not to take nonsense from the superior beings.
In anybody else, the qualities are all turn-ons. Beyonce’ sang a song on her solo debut about the man she wants in her life for the long haul. In it, she paid tribute to the man who shaped her image of a black man – and men in general.
“I want my husband to be like my daddy,” she sang.
And I want my wife to be like my mommy.
During our conversation on June 15, 2003, I took about 5 minutes to tell my mother all the things others might have missed by living in a single-parent household. Then I thanked her for being a mother-father and making sure I didn’t go without anything while under her care – and beyond.
“Just my way of saying I love you,” I told her, forcing back any emotions that sought to surface themselves.
“I love you, too baby. Can I go back to sleep now?”
Marlon A. Walker is a senior newspaper journalism student from Detroit.He is The Famuan’s Deputy Copy Desk Chief. Contact him at MarlonAWalker@aol.com