A Tribute to My Mother
(A reprint: First published in www.copylinemagazine.com on May 8, 2010)
By Juanita Bratcher
I never thought about life without my mother. And when she died almost 15 years ago, it was by far the darkest day of my life, my guardian angel was no longer here with me and my three siblings.
My mother, Tommie Sean Forte, the beloved wife of George W. Forte, and the nurturing mother of four adult children Eula, Bertha, Juanita and Tommy, was our guardian angel, a protective mom who always kept a watchful eye on her children.
I grew up in a home where Christianity was second to none, and voting, among other things, was looked upon as a top priority. My mother was a faithful and devoted Christian. She believed in the power of prayer; and she also believed in the power of the ballot. There was no question as to where her loyalty was in regards to her religious beliefs. And there was no question as to where she stood on the issue of voting.
Mom was a devoted Christian, a loving wife and mother, a stickler for fairness, and a hard-worker, not only on the job but also at home. She had a spotless house, always tended her garden during the summer, and a smart shopper in every respect. She had a big heart, a heart of gold, and always reached out to those who were less fortunate.
Among other things, mom taught her offspring to love and respect each other and to love and respect their fellowman. Being the woman that she was made me the woman that I am. She had a voice that demanded attention. She was exciting, a go-getter, a fighter for fairness and justice.
One of the things I treasured most about her was her sense of fairness to others. And she tried to instill that same sense of fairness in her children. I have so many indelible memories and thoughts of my mother. Those are the things that carry me through the day, because there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about my mother. Her pictures covet the walls in various places in my home. They are constant reminders of her positive lectures to her children, her words, many of which still hold a special place in my heart, my mind, and are strongly motivational to me.
My mom died on November 24, 1995. It was by far the saddest and darkest day of my life. When I got the news, I cried non-stop for three hours. Not only did I lose a mother, I lost my best friend and biggest cheerleader. She was not a mother who sat on the sidelines and watched her children grow up from a distance. She was actively involved with her children every step of the way – their careers, their successes; the good times and the bad times. She was inspirational and motivational.
She was a role model, a “real” mother in every sense of the word. She was a mother who made innumerable sacrifices for her children, her family, for others. She was always there, nurturing them, sustaining them with love and respect. She never turned loose the reins; they were always on her mind and they were always in her heart and prayers.
We (family) marveled at her knowledge, her spiritual and worldly insight, her firm belief in God and her remarkable sense of humor. She had an excellent way of evaluating and analyzing things. But aside from her serious no-nonsense mannerisms, she was involved in church and community. She was never out of touch with the world we live in. She kept up with the Stock Market, and believed in the power of the ballot. She was actively involved in the electoral process.
My mother was excitedly comfortable and energetic in her belief that voting was an essential tool to bring about change through the electoral process. She was adamant in her belief that voting gives people a choice to weed-out the good candidates from the bad. And when her children reached voting age and become registered voters, on any given Election Day, she would ask, “Did you vote today?”
Over the years, at one time or another, I have sympathized and empathized with friends over the loss of a parent. But I now know that one cannot grasp to the fullest extent the hurt that comes along with the loss of a parent, or a family member or a friend for that matter, until it knocks at their door.
A few weeks after my mother’s funeral, I was asked, “When does the healing process begin? When does it end?” For many, that can be an unanswerable question. A lot of the healing process depends on the individual’s state of mind and other circumstances. As for me, I wonder will it ever end. For I know within my heart, mind and soul, that it will never end completely. When I think of her, I’m overwhelmed with sadness, tears, even almost 15 years later. But I have faith in God that He will soothe my hurt and take away the pain and tears.
Yet, when I was grieving over my mother’s death, that strong inner voice took over my thought processes and reminded me that “The Lord was good to your mother, and the Lord has been good to you.” And indeed He has. Praise the Lord! The suffering I’ve encountered in life has been minor compared to the happiness God has given to me and my mother.
In the aftermath of my mother’s death, I wrote my feelings and thoughts on paper, much of it in the form of poems. The pain and hurt that I encountered was taking a toll on my mind, body, soul and spirit. But I was well aware that there was nothing I could do to change the situation and bring my mother back to life, otherwise, it would have been done, pronto. If only I could turn back time. Which I knew was impossible. The days that followed have been some of the darkest days of my life.
It’s so easy to embrace or accept the good things and good times in life, they usually generate tremendous joy. But it’s a story of the other kind when faced with the unpleasant obstacles of life, those happenings and events that bring tremendous stress and untold sadness.
There’s no question, as human beings, sometimes we do not fully understand how to cope with sad, emotional and stressful moments…that’s human nature. But the pain is certainly eased when one is locked in fellowship with God – where one can always find peace and solace. Not just in times of crisis, but at all times.
I only wish everyone could have a mother like my mother was to me and my siblings. If so, the world would be a far better place in which to live. Some of my feelings about my mother are in the following poems that I put together after her death.
Poems of Love; In Memory of Mom
It Was the Darkest Day of My Life
We shared life’s frailties
The good and bad
We faced challenges together
Some happy, some sad
You were my hero, my guiding light
And now that you’ve left me
Nothing seems right
This heart of mine will never mend
I’ve truly lost my very Best Friend
Mother of mine, you meant so much
I’ll surely miss your tender touch
– Juanita Bratcher
The Seeds of Life
I could see her smiling
As she planted good seeds
She was God-fearing, loving and brave
A happy woman indeed
Her face was so radiant
Her heart was true blue
She was always supportive
In whatever she could do
She was truthful in her undertakings
Victorious in what she set out to do
She never looked back for accolades
She moved on to help someone new
Oh, Sweet Mother
A sweet mother she was
A devoted wife too
And now she has left us
And we face challenges anew
When I look to the heavens
I can see her face
Her smile is ever so radiant
It didn’t take long for her to take her place
And even though she had
A most fulfilling life
It hurts to think of life without her
It’s like the sting of a sharpened knife
I ask myself each day
Why did she go so soon?
I sit and cherish her sweet memories
While I stare at the heavenly moon
I can see her in the heavens
Talking to all her kin
While I sit here lonely on earth
Feeling the hurt from loosing a mother, a friend
She was my shining hero
She meant so much to me
But then she left so suddenly
And I’m not the woman I used to be
My Shining Star Is Gone
That shining star
That lit up my life
That shining star
The one that shined so bright
Is gone forever
And memories are all I have
And now reality has set in
I’ve truly lost a very dear friend
One that was always on my side
So strong and full of pride
One to whom I depended on
And one I could always confide
So where do I go for solace?
Who will soothe my broken heart?
The void can never be filled
My mother’s love was real
Those Chilling, Quiet Moments
I looked in my eyes
They looked so sad
I looked at my face
It never looked so bad
I searched out my thoughts
But none would come
I cried and cried
And asked myself, how come?
I think about mom
All those memories she left
She was the perfect mother
She knew that herself
– Juanita Bratcher
About My Mother
My mother was a devout Christian in every sense of the word. She was truly blessed. And her blessings, she always acknowledged, came from God.
She was a loving wife in every sense of the word. She was a true mother in every sense of the word. Her labor of love for me and my siblings was unquestionable. She nurtured and prepared us for the good and bad of the world. She loved everyone. That was the Christian way, she always said. She never said anything bad or malicious about anyone, and she carried herself in such a manner that others knew not to talk bad or maliciously about anyone in her presence.
As best she could, she carried the word of God to thousands of people, through her missionary work. She was the Mother of her church, a member of the Eastern Star, and served on several church boards and committees, during her more than fifty years as a member. Through her sharing and caring, she reaped tremendous blessings from God, through spiritual obedience.
I wish everyone could have a mother like my mother was to me and my three siblings. Aside from that, she was a surrogate mother to many other children. And though she’s gone, and we deeply miss her, we are fortunate to have so many rich and pleasant memories of her. Those memories will live on forever in our hearts, minds and souls. We loved her dearly. My mother was my hero (our hero). And she will forever be our eternal hero.
Happy Mother’s Day! To Mothers Everywhere
Juanita Bratcher is the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com, the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 35 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.