Breathe Life

Jose Vilson Jose

I took a good look at a little girl, cocoa-brown-skinned, with pony tails on her left and right side of her head. Her face had rather round features. Average-sized little girl. Her pupils were round and black, innocent and longing for her mother and father. She wore a pink dress, a sparkling wristband, and a plastic wrist-watch on her other wrist, a watch that hasn’t and won’t ever be set to real time. She hugged her mother’s leg with her soft hands and arms, tired from playing with her friends all around the room, closing her eyes tightly indicating to her mom that she’s ready to rest. Life is easy then. Yet, my eyes swelled and became flush with sorrow and pride.

She reminded me of my own mom.

The woman who birthed two sons, with the same round face and eyes, soft hands, but more fully grown and mature, tired too from the hard work she’s endured to keep the world’s ills. Her only joy comes from her offspring successes she never could. She was once that little girl, in Dominican Republic, with a stronghold of women who she called “mom” when her mom wasn’t around. She became less of that little girl in Miami, and started to blossom as a young woman, working hard for her father, who at once trusted her with his entire life but on the same end, treated her like the other women he was around.

She was girl no more in between time in Miami and New York when she moved with her mom in New York with her future in her womb and not a cent to her name. While her maternal side of the family took liberties to tolerate her and disown her, she decided to try and make it on her own. She promised her only son at the time, her only companion for four years of this struggle that there wasn’t a job she wouldn’t take, a fire she wouldn’t endure, or a man who would prevent her from getting me to excel.

Decades later, she’s aged gracefully, even if her feet haven’t always let her walk as fast as she used to. She’s seen many highs and lows, a few presidents, 2 apartments, the birth of another son, and a light at the end of a 26 year old journey, raising this author into her strongest supporter. She’s a worry wart, a nervous wreck, a bit of a nagger, with a voice that’s at one moment shrill with excitement and another calming like the matriarch. Every woman makes mistakes, but no one will ever say she wronged another human being. She’s overly generous at times.

And while some Black men think dating their fellow Black women is akin to charity (ugh), my mom (a Black Dominican woman) responded with a solemn vow that, if a Black man wouldn’t treat her right, she’d raise two men who would treat their women right. She’s seen 1/2 a century go by, from a little brown girl with glowing eyes to a woman who smiles at the simple things, glad that she’s done her part to grow boys to men. Even with our disputes, I can’t help but be thankful for the woman she had to be to make me and my brother the men we are.

At some point in her pregnancy, she was given a choice. While I couldn’t choose her, I’m honored that she chose me. Happy birthday, Mom.

jose, who doesn’t like to preach death in his songs, but breathe life …

p.s. – Interesting that her first name is Spanish for “miracle …”