I was born on the very cusp of the Great Depression, on Valentine’s Day, a day set apart for the giving and showing of love.
And I remember as a little girl, my Daddy looking into my face and saying “Sweetie, there’s no school today.”
And I was sad because I loved school. I loved wrapping my three schoolbooks in a leather belt fastened tight with a rusted buckle and skipping off to school.
But I didn’t quite remember why he said that. I just remembered staring into the face of a man whose face mirrored mine – white, fair-skinned, with concentrated splotches of freckles.
I understood later that times were hard and with Momma dead and gone, Daddy could barely afford to feed us eight kids, much less send us off to school. We all had to work, and pick vegetables from the ground alongside the Negroes.
I met the best negroes out in those fields. They were real people just like me. One little negro girl, who had become my best friend for the next seventy-two years, told me “I like the way you wrinkle your nose when you laugh!”
My friend, my dear friend... she passed last week. And I just got home from her funeral. My eyes were still moist and wet with tears. I cried so much that there were no more tears left.
But I remember my friend. And what she said the first day we met.
And to this very day, nearing the ripe old age of eighty, standing at a mere 5’4” tall, and at a healthy 175 pounds, I know how to make myself happy during bad times. I know where my joy is:
I stand and look in the mirror.
And I laugh.
from my Women of Color Writing Workshop, December 28, 2012. 7 minute writing exercise...
Writing prompts: use the following in a story.
Age: 80 years old
Height, weight: 5'4", 175 lbs
Day: Valentines day
Looks: white, fair-skinned, with concentrated splotches of freckles