Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's My Mama's Birthday!

Today's my Mama's birthday, and today, I'm going to tell you why she is Queen of "The Village."

Words alone cannot express the feeling that overcomes my heart when I think about my Mama. I can tell you though, that the attributes that make up this Phenomenal Woman, are those that every human being should aspire to achieve and embrace.

For more than half a century, Doris Cook has been mother, mentor, teacher, guardian and friend to the entire East New York "Village." Throughout my young adult life, all the neighborhood "kids" always took comfort in knowing that the door would be open and a place at the dinner table reserved for anyone who crossed the threshold at "Miss Cook's" house. I cannot remember once in my entire life that she didn't have the time to listen and share her wisdom to anyone who came to her with a problem. We laugh on Mother's Day because Mama often complains that her place looks like a funeral home from all the flowers.

When my father died from lung cancer in 1983, and knowing my birth mother, a then hopeless alcoholic, who eventually died from one drink too many, Miss Cook, who I proudly call Mama and who my kids call Gramma, vowed that she would be my mother from then on. Since that time, she has kept that promise and has proved to be one of the most wonderful people I have ever known.

I often wonder what my kids' life would be like today had we not experienced the childhood memories of Gramma's house full of laughter and cheer and drama and tears; kick-the-can and skelly on a hot summer night, hot, spicy homemade cobbler from fresh picked berries all of her Grands and the kids on the block got together and picked from the backyard, juicy pears from Mama's pear tree, church hymns, sermons, singing on the gospel choir, good old fashioned Southern church dinner outings, Double Dutch on the sidewalk, dancing in the johnny pump, handball in the schoolyard, bossy cousin Timmy telling the girls, "Get in the house!" Warm bodies, lots of hugs, noise and kids hollering, "Auntie! Auntie!" at Christmas, awesome family bar-be-cues that draw people from miles around to the grill and to the table; family bus outings to Danbury State Park; church chataquas out-of-town; family reunions; everybody went to P.S. 158 -- even me!! Everybody's first job was down the block with Mr. Bolden's B&B Construction. The boys on the truck; the girls in the office. Soooo much family history -- all because of one woman who said in my time of trouble, "Don't worry, Brenda -- we're your family now."

Today, when I called Mama to wish her Happy Birthday, she replied, "Brenda, I want to see you bright and early Thursday morning. We have a lot to do. I'm going to put on a big pot of coffee [she knows coffee is my weakness and how I love it. That's our thing -- having morning coffee together.] And so Thursday morning, you can bet your boots I'll be at Mama's house bright and early, sippin coffee and nibbling Madelines while we sit, chat and giggle while looking out at the old pear tree.

And so, today, I want to say sincerely with all my heart, "Happy Birthday, Mama! I love you very much! Thank you for being there for us. We will always be there for you."

I am so proud to have a Queen for a mom. Doris Cook is one of the many blessings I am always thankful for.