Friday, November 26, 2010

Oak Leaves, Mothers, and Legacy

Thanksgiving was a special day. Sounds cliche? Well, here's the deal. Thanksgiving 2010 was a day that my family came together after many years of being fractured. This after many prayers whispered into the ear of heaven from healing friends with names such as Bev, Rellie and Cassandra. So, yes. A miracle. I reckon. The afternoon found me helping my Mom prepare her "stuck her foot in it" candy yams for some of the homeless and hungry beloved of our city. Later, we floated over to a beaut of a restaurant to dip into a magical evening of shared laughter and fine dining. My family was not alone at the table. Somewhere during the beginning of the dining adventure Joy sat down and unfolded a menu of delight. The pleasure was all ours. Alas, we saw, up close and personal, that there is indeed room at the table. For All and Whomsoever. Selah.

For me, one of the most amazing gems of the nuit was the venue. A gorgeous restaurant which sits upon the shores of the beautiful lake in our city. And, wondrously so, the restaurant is the former site of the old Lake House. From back in the day. I'm talking history, now. Willie Brown and Ron Dellums as young men, back in the day. A place where the Alpha's and Aka's, Deltas, Omega's used to gather and have dances (and other community events). For those of you who know the history of Black Greek organizations you will understand the feel of that statement. My Mom told me that it was the place where my Dad courted her! My Dad was the president of his undergraduate chapter of Alphas when they were in college. "The Black, Black and Old Gold!"

So, there we sat, soaking in the lovely view. And an extra bonus? I was able to step upon a bit of my Mom's own personal legacy. Literally. You see, the restaurant is owned by the city. And run by an amazing restaurateur. Because it is owned by the city, several organizations pitched in to help develop this slice of beauty. Two of those organizations are Goodwill and Rotary. My Mother is the first woman and first non white person to Chair (Internationally) Goodwill. And she is very active in Rotary in our city (heading its finance committee at one time, amongst other committees).

As we walked down the steps of the restaurant to our family Thanksgiving dinner she stopped us and pointed to the pavement. The pavement has plaques in the shape of oak leaves that have the names of people who helped to contribute to the restoration of this restaurant and its surroundings. And we looked. And there I saw my Mom's name: Dr. Rosemay S. Darden. It literally took my breath away for a moment.

I suppose to some this seems like a small thing. An oak leaf with a name. My Mom, afterall, has conference rooms across America named after her, her name appears on the slate of funders for Berkeley Black Rep, she is friends with several African Dignitaries, has broken ground on huge complexes all around the USA, briefed President Bush, sat with President Obama at a "thank you for donating all of your whole lotta money" type of event in San Francisco (An aside: One is best advised to not speak ill of our esteemed President in my Mother's ear shot. She cried when he was elected. She still is, afterall, a lil black girl from Mobile, Alabama. On the inside. She remembers the times that she was told "No, you can't." She never listened. Neither did President Obama. They are kindred spirits. Apparently.)

Anyway I digress. Back to the point. My Mother. Her achievements (and the oak leaf). My Mom  is "that chick". Tenacious, like fire, a do-er, quietly compassionate. Success.

So, there I stared at this plaque. In the shape of an oak leaf. Small in comparison to her many achievements. Why was I smiling like a child with a handful of special lollipops?

One word. Legacy. Left behind in the city where I was born. My city. My Mom's oak leaf represents a place where I can always go. And remember. I can remember her strength...against the voices who told her she was not to be. Her perseverance against all odds. And I can smile. Because, as wild as she is, the Lord carried her over and above. She is a feisty eagle.

Yesterday, I realized that I am the continuation of my Mother's flight. Like the extraordinary Aviator Amelia Earhart my Mom's life has been filled with challenges and adventures. And like Earhart, shecontinues to live a life that believes: "The most effective way to do it, is to do it."*

Yes. Yesterday was special. Historic even. Because I heard differently and perhaps for the first time.

"Welcome home, Regina." Yours truly, the Oak Leaf.


*Quote source:

Copyright 2010 Regina Y. Evans All Rights Reserved (from the book, "Nothing Cool About Ten")

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