Sunday, January 16, 2005

Mrssissippi Yearning

This Saturday night I had nothing to do. Then a spirit moved me. Around eight o’clock I called my mom to ask for Mrssissippi’s telephone number. Mrssissippi is the mother of my father. I have met her once. I have met him only twice. A relationship between my father and I, or his family and I does not exist.

This has never bothered me and honestly I have never given it too much thought. I have a mother, brother, sister and a family network in Cleveland that has loved and supported me. Who could, would or why even ask for anything more? I have been comfortable with this for years, or so I thought.

Lately I have been thinking about him. If I heard his voice I wouldn’t know it was him. If I felt his touch I wouldn’t be able to identify the feeling. If he stood beside me I wouldn’t recognize his scent. Circumstances as they are now do not allow me to reach out to him right now so I decided to reach out to the closest thing, the person who has in the past attempted to reach out to me but I never reached back, Mrssissippi. When I was a child she would occasionally send me cards on holidays. I would open them, take the money and throw away the card before my mother got home. My mother would have made me write or call Mrssissippi to say thank you. I was a bitter child then and had no desire to do such. I just wanted to take the money and run. After all, didn’t her son run away from me?

One night during my senior of college I was lying in bed doing nothing and had no homework to do. There was nothing on television. There was nothing on the radio. Something moved me to get up and write a long overdue thank you note to Mrssissippi. I couldn’t blame her or make her suffer consequences for something she didn’t do. I was angry at my father, not her. She didn’t deserve to be treated poorly by me. I sent that letter off and within a few weeks she had written me back.

She was glad to hear from me. She asks my mothers aunts about me all the time. She wished I would write her more often. She prayed for me. She wanted her son to do better. She was proud of me. She wanted me to come visit her sometime. She invited me to a family reunion. I did not attend.

I didn’t write her back after that and she never wrote me again. My mother’s aunts tell my mother and I that she asks about me all the time. I believe she really is a good woman.

Tonight I called one of my mother’s aunts and asked her for a number to reach Mrssissippi. She was elated that I was calling for that reason. She and Mrssissippi are good friends and according to her I was asked about yesterday at the grocery store.

So, I got the number and called Mrssissippi. An uncle that I have never known answered the phone. I asked to speak with Mrssissippi. She picked up. We talked for all of 10 minutes. She asked questions and I answered. I actually smiled a lot because I could tell without being able to see through phone wire that there was someone on the other end of the line who was pleased to be hearing my voices. Mrssissippi said she prays for me every day as she does for all of her grandchildren. I know that she has a lot of grandchildren, an exact number I don’t know. I do know however that she birthed at least eight children of her own.

Mrssissippi was glad to hear from me. She said she asks my mothers aunts about me all the time and she heard I was doing well for myself and had gotten a good education. She told me she was proud that I was staying out of trouble. She asked how old I was and told me how time flies. Yes, it does.

Mrssissippi said her birthday is March 30. My mother’s birthday is March 1. Like book ends, two women who are directly and indirectly connected to my being hold the third month together. Black women, aren’t they always holding things together though? I told Mrssissippi I would call her on her birthday. She will just be turning 68. Still got a lot of living to do I bet. As our conversation was coming to a close I told her to send my father and his other son my regards.

I went back to loafing around my apartment. Whatever moved me to write her that letter a couple years ago must have been the same thing that moved me to call her tonight. I hope I am moving in the right direction.