Have you ever had that feeling as if the entire universe is a lie? That the world and the people you know has grown to be estranged? Well, that’s where I stand at this point; Living in a place of misunderstandings and unfamiliar interactions. It kind of feel like Neo entering into the Matrix for the first time except I’ve been here before. Sounds like a contradictory statement, I know. But life doesn’t always come with a comprehensive guideline or blueprint that tells you how to live life into an unmarred masterpiece. I know because I’m a witness. My name is Marcus and this is my story.
I grew up in a small city where everybody knew everybody. Literally. It was never a place you could go that you didn’t know the majority of the people in the location. I was 10 years old when we moved to Rockford Illinois. I never did understand why mama moved here or how she even came across such a place until I got older.
At the time, mama was a single parent taking care of three kids alone. She was the only father figure we knew and she did it to the best of her ability. But we all know that a woman can’t teach a man to be a man. What a woman could do is train up a child in a way it should go. She was a very wise woman in everything she did. I guess the experiences she had to endure taught her more than what she was willing to say. She had a saying or a speech for every situation and or problem. I can hear her now.
“Marcus, choose wisely who you call your friends. Just because everybody befriends you does not mean that they are your friend.” mama would say.
I never did understand what mama meant at the time. Besides, I was only 10 years old at the. Those were only words to me. But little did I know that alone the lines of life mama’s words of wisdom and knowledge was key point for events to come.
I had 2 other siblings. Mike and Angie. I was the oldest of the three of us, which means I had more of a responsibility on my part. Mama considered me the “man” of the house. Although I didn’t feel much of a man at the time because all I did was chores. She would tell me that a man that doesn’t work doesn’t eat. Since I wanted to eat, I did my chores. I just knew mama was blackmailing me.
We didn’t have much growing up. I didn’t have all of the updated clothes that my friends and other kids had. Mama didn’t always have the money to give us what she desired. She did give us what we needed. We lived off section 8 and where we live wasn’t all the best, but it was a place. We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. We didn’t get to go outside much. The neighborhood we lived in wasn’t all that safe but it definitely wasn't the hood. Every so often you will hear gun shots pop off in the distance but you could tell it wasn’t close by.
I remember one night I was up knowing I should be sleep, I could hear mama crying in the room next door. She wasn’t extremely loud but noticeable enough to know that something was wrong.
It wasn’t the first time I heard her cry, but this cry was different. It pierced my heart so painfully that I had to get a closer listen. The more she cried the harder she cried. I knew something wasn’t right at all.
“God give me strength, give me strength God!!!!” She cried out.
Whenever mama prayed like this something major had to happen to bring her to the point to break down like this. Mama always been strong in here stance. I barely seen her down and out. To me she was invincible.
“You know my needs O God. I know that you are able to do the impossible. I trust that you are able to bring me through and out of this…” She sobbed with sincerity like nothing I’ve seen.
At that point I was curious to know what it is that bother her so much. It hurts to hear your mother cry. It’s hurts even more to know that she is hurting and not know why. I never did figure out what was wrong with mama that night. Hearing mama praying gave me the urge to do the same. Mama always took the time out to teach us how to pray. I wasn’t as good as she was of course. The only thing I wanted from God was to keep my mama in perfect peace. That was the last time I heard mama cry out like that.
Since that night, I did everything I could around the house to make sure my mother had a smile on her face. Deep down inside I wanted to know why my mother cried out like she had done. Then again I didn't. It was many times I was tempted to ask her but didn’t have the audacity to do so.
Time had passed on a couple years. I was now in 8th grade. John F. Kennedy middle school. Now that I was getting older, I begin to experience life a little more than before being exposed to society and people in all. School wasn’t bad for me. I was a smart kid. I just didn’t make smart decisions when it came to my friends and my actions. But educationally wise, I was probably the smartest kid in my lil click. I would get a referral here and there. I had to serve detentions occasionally. I tried to hang with the big boys. Well, just like the big boys I had learn what consequences and repercussions really meant. I had got my first suspension!! 10 days! For 10 days I knew my but would be on flame when mama found out.
Mama didn’t play foolishness. I didn’t get time outs and special talks. The only talking I got was a word per hit she gave me during that whoopin. Surely as you know it mama tore my back side to pieces when I got home. Getting a whooping by mama took forever to be over with. Especially due to the fact she like to talk in the process. Or she would whack me, speak through her teeth and say “You better not make one sound.” It wasn’t what she said that scared me, it was the look on her face when she said it. I didn’t fully understand how to comprehend pain and no sound. I remember even one time mama sat on my head and whoop me. Good God I thought I was going to die.
Unlike most of the others that got suspended, 10 days of no school wasn’t a vacation for me. More like a prison sentence. I was lucky enough to have windows. Eventually, I got pass my teenage rebellion stage. What child doesn’t go through that era in life?
By the time I was 15, Mama had gotten married. Now this was a total different atmosphere for me and probably for mama too. Mama was very independent, so this had to be a change for her. I mean, for 15 years she raised 3 of us on her own. She worked 2 jobs and was a full time mother. Most days we were left at home by ourselves because she couldn’t afford a babysitter. She would make us sit in our rooms until she got home so nobody would hear us. Mama didn’t ask much from people. As a matter of fact mama never asked for anything.
Things had been a little different now that mama wasn't alone anymore. Someone had come in and took my place as man of the house. Although mama would say that I will always be the man of the house, I most definitely didn’t feel like it at this point. I didn’t know much about who he was before now. I only seen him so often. But I knew for sure, I wasn’t please to fact that she married him. I’m sure he and mama has being seeing each other for a little while. He seemed like he had it all together. I thought he was an okay guy but not good for my mother’s heart. I didn’t trust no man because of the absence of one in my mother’s life for so long. There were plenty of times I tried to convince her not to marry him or anyone in that case.
“Mama, you know you don’t need no man to make you happy.” She glanced at me from the corner of her eye, smiled, and put her focus back on the tv. “Mama, I’m serious” I shouted.
“Marcus baby, you right I don’t need a man to make me happy, but I don’t mind the company of being loved”. I knew mama was tired of being single but I still wasn’t fond of the idea of her getting married. “Well, I love you! Isn’t that good enough?” Mama looked at me with a glow in her face and grabbed me to embrace me in her arms. “ I love you to my lil man”
Mama still called me little man and it still had the same effect. I haven’t hugged my mama like that in God knows how long, but it felt good. “Look Marcus, I know you are not used to having a father figure in your life. But I believe that he a great man. He has showed me nothing but compassion and I love him for that.” I didn’t give much a response because I knew she made her mind up as to what she wanted to do.
His name was Daniel Johnson. He was about 6 feet tall and muscular. He’s treats my mom with the most respect and treats my siblings and I like his own. I still felt uncomfortable that there was another man in the house beside me. But mama is happy.