Looking After Little Almita Randell

“Almita!!!!!”

Clarice Randell marched back then forth down the vacant road and its barren surrounding landscape.  She turned a frightened eye to her oldest child.

“John, where she at?! You was supposed to be lookin’ after her!”

“Mama, I don’t know she was sittin’ right here just a minute ago.”

Before she could leap to attack her son, her husband grasped her wrist.

“Clarice juss calm down, she couldn’ta went too far.”

“Almita!!!!! I don’t trust it … these roads.  You know what they doin’ to colored folk down this way  Henry?!”

Silence, fear, and resentment hung heavy.  Father and son did the work of preparing the car to be road worthy.

“ALMITA!!!!!!!!!!”

Her mind drifted to a day a few months before.

“Baby don’t come in here!  Mama’s not feelin’ well and lord knows I don’t need you gettin’ what I got. Gone back in there with John.”

“It’s okay Mama. I’m a doctor.”

You a doctor?”

“Yes ma’am. I’m gonna take care of ya.”

“Is that right? Alright Ms. Doctor. Take care of me.”

Almita jumped right in staring intently into her mothers eyes, then ears, then throat. She flexed and bent her arms and legs. Finally, she put her head against her mother’s chest to listen to her heart.

It was here that the memory froze, and Clarice’s heart broke. Her legs folded and before she knew it she was on the ground. She sobbed heavily and cried out one last time.

“ALMITA!!!!!”

There was brief silence, then the roaring of an engine. She lifted her head and was greeted by a large billow of dust. The jalopy pulled abruptly next to her nearly running her over. In an instant she heard …

“Mama!”

Almita jumped out and ran over to her mother.

“What’s the matter Mama?”

Anger and relief washed over Clarice. She swatted Almita has hard as she could across her back side, then immediately kissed her and wept.

A small statured white man got out of the car.

“She yours?”

“Yessir.”

“You might wanna keep an eye on her.”

The twang in his voice and the implication that she would neglect her child, stirred hatred within her but the relief of having her child back kept it at bay. She rose, thanked him for his kindness and began to walk back toward her family. He followed.

Smiles and laughter as the family reunited fell to awkward silence.

“May I help you sir?”

“I fancy myself a photographer. You’re a right smart lookin’ group of coloreds. I wanna take your picture.”
Clarice looked to Henry.

“Yessir, but we do need to be gettin’ back on the road.”

“Won’t take me but a minute.”

The gentleman fumbled with his clunky equipment as Henry, John, and Clarice ready themselves to leave immediately after the photo was taken.  Almita, ever the curious rebel, ran toward the gentleman, past her father, down beside her brother, while resisting her mother’s last minute adjustments to her hair.

“Okay Mister! I’m Ready!”

Rosie.

photo courtesy of  the Waheed Photo Archive

The Zion Chronicles: The Crooked Smile

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my boy. This is mainly due to his request for me not to. I believe that children deserved to have their privacy respected unless they’re in a position of potentially being in danger then all bets are off. This has allowed us to begin to foster a relationship of mutual respect ,  a respect that I feel will make for  a better parent/child relationship when he’s no longer of rearing age, and keeps me out of Shady Pines in my golden years…hopefully.  Today, with his permission I write about his triumph.

As those who have followed me through this his first year in middle school can attest, it’s been a rough one for our boy. Below average grades, home work struggles, and a completely insane mother breathing down his neck at every turn.  It’s a wonder he survived. I’m overwhelmingly proud to report that not only did my courageous young man survive…He thrived.

Today he was presented with two awards:

1. A Character award for Perseverance:

“Staying with the task an not giving up”

2. Out Standing Student:

Most Improved-Science (you know…that dammable class he couldn’t wrassle up more than a “D” in?!)

The beauty of it all is the journey he took this year, what he learned about himself, and what  I the doubting faithless mother learned about her very capable son.  The minute I got him the help he needed and let go…the miracle happened. He found his way. He didn’t need or deserve my screaming, cursing, and other bassackwards “parenting” behaviors. He needed the ability to fail on his own and then figure out how to do it on his own with others simply lighting the way.

I also learned that grades often have very little  to do with a child’s progress. My son’s final report card for the year would look like a disappointment in some parents eyes, but for me…well I’ll use this analogy. While I was driving him home from school as he told me about winning the awards. I imagined for a split second his crooked jack-o-latern smile from when he was about 7 years old. Completely imperfect with signs of beautiful growth ahead. Kudos Zion. I love you and am the proudest Mom ever :).

Related articles