Mother to Son (an ode from Langston to the only mother I knew to be mother)

Mother to Son (an ode from Langston to the only mother I knew to be mother)


There was one point in life where I didn't know how to speak out about death. But, my God, there's been so much of it in my family over the last few years. A few years back, I buried my biological mom. Just this summer, I buried the only mom I really ever knew. In between, we lost several family members, and several close church members.  The total comes to be somewhere north of 10.

Oh Death.

But this poem is about life. My mom's life (I wrote about my other mom's death some time ago. Read it here.).

The mom who cared for me most of my life struggled with many personal things. But loving kids wasn't one of them. I came from a very abusive foster care system. So did my brothers. And so did many of the nearly 100 children she cared for over her lifetime. Sure, she had her own personal struggles. But they paled in comparision to the struggles she saw us through.

But something dawned on me after her death, and I hate that it took her passing for me to see it:

There was one point in there where I questioned circumstances surrounding our (my brothers and I) seperation from our birth mom. Needless to say, our conversation went south quick. And when it happened, her reaction hurt me. Now I know that my reaction to her was just...plain...selfish.

That was about 6 years ago. Our relationship wasn't the same, but it didn't dissapear. She never stopped loving me, and I never stopped loving her. And we didn't stop talking. But something had changed. And it was all in what wasn't being said between us.

As I think about how mad I was, I also think about how stupid it was of me, not to see why something like that would upset her. Of course the first reason as to why she might have been upset is that she felt as if I may have been unappreitive of her care for me and those other kids all our lives. 

But that wasn't what makes me hurt now. 

What hurts the most, is the fact that I never accounted for all the kids before me, that may have done the same thing to her, and all the countless times she may have suffered heartbreak from each of these kids she cared for, only for them to consider (and sometimes fully) leaveing her once they'd gotten what they needed. 

I'm left with this: Her life was no crystal stair. And we weren't perfect children. But God Almighty, she showed darn-near perfect love. 

The poem below, by Langston Hughes, is an ode to her love, toughness, and ability to do what most people never achieve in their lives: Impacting many, while sacrificing all....

Mother to Son

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

— Langston Hughes

Mom, I thank you for climbing. 
I thank you for walking in the dark so that I might see light;
For stepping on nails so that my feet wouldn't bleed.

I'll miss you. 
And I'll see you soon. 

Your Son,