Several years ago, working privately in the nursing field, I met a woman named Esther, who has forever changed my life. Initially, I was her private nurse, but quickly, we became friends. We changed each other’s outlook as she was Jewish and came from the Holocaust experience, which made her the kind of woman you wanted to talk to when the chips were down, and I can be a talker when I believe I have something to say. Also, as one from the Black Experience, who studied my history, our exchanges were inspirational in their raw honesty. I was never intimidated by wealth or status; although she was on a different social and financial level than I, I saw her as an equal with years of wisdom I didn’t have. I was told right off the bat that she was called the iron lady, but as one who doesn’t allow the opinions of others to dictate my response or warp my view of others, I brushed that warning aside and got to know her. She was a wonderful woman but didn’t allow people to run circles around her, which they tried doing because she was older.
I smile affectionately on remembering my Jewish mother, her beauty, warmth, love of family, friends, life, and her country, America. I recalled a year into my employment; the diagnosis for her was fatal. On hearing the news, she was naturally frightened by the prospect of only having a few months remaining. Her children were all grown and doing well, and her grandchildren also were adults. She wanted to see at least one great-grandchild. She expressed her concern that she wouldn’t live long enough to see it happen, and naturally, I pushed back hard on that. I’m known to have what some call crazy faith. I immediately dismissed the doctor’s prognosis, reminding her he was a learned man, not God! How would he know for sure when someone would die? I encouraged her not to accept that, and after some very animated discussion with her, she relaxed, dismissing the idea of dying soon. For the next five years plus, her health improved with proper healthcare, nutrition, social activities, family support, and me as the daughter she met later in life. Our days became filled with laughter, hugs, and the occasional minor issues caused by simply being alive. She lived long enough to become a great-grandmother and even saw her great-grandchild learn how to walk.
In the last month of her life, she asked me to take her to Barnes & Noble to purchase a book, which I found strange, although we didn’t know it would have been her last month. She usually reads only the newspaper, so why was she buying a book? I was confused but went along without belaboring the reason as to why. We got the book, and to my surprise, she gifted it to me with a lecture. “The Giving Tree” was the title of the book. She told me to be careful not to end in life like the story’s main character, who gave his all and left with nothing at the end. I understood what she wanted me to be aware of; that life can be cruel, and we need to be careful and not develop a Christlike complex in our choices or decisions.
I appreciated where she was in her thinking on observing me. However, I believe the essence of who we truly are isn’t up for grabs or negotiation. Material stuff changes with time, and when people think they’re shortchanging us, they are doing it to themselves. God knows everyone and has the first and last say about our lives. There’ll always be losses in life, but the greatest loss is that of the soul, which can only happen when we compromise our true essence of what makes us uniquely us. We can be in a room with people who has our name, and they might even share physical characteristics and cultural, social, and economic background; but that doesn’t make us the same. We are different through intrinsic qualities that sets us apart. Therefore, no one changes us unless we allow it.
My Jewish mother has been gone for quite some time, but the warmth and love she has given me remains. It is good to open our hearts to accept love no matter where or who it comes from because it might be what helps to show us the way in life. So, as I look back and look ahead with hope for the future, I pray when my race is over, there’ll be someone who will look back as I am doing now and find peace, joy, and appreciation that our lives crossed, and this is the best any of us can hope. Thanks for stopping by. Peace!