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To Paulette: An Open Letter of How My Mother Taught Me How to Be a Daughter.

Mothers are royalty.

Worthy of honor.

Deserving of high esteem.

Regarded as the Queen.

Daughters are like sunlight.

Worthy of unconditional love.

Deserving her mother's wise blessing.

Regarded as her Mother's princess.

I learned how to be a daughter from watching my mother. I saw her taking care of my great grandmother and my grandmother all the way up until they both transitioned from this earth. She never complained. Without discontent, she sacrificed a portion of her life, to serving them. In fact from my perspective, without hesitation, she gave much of her life to make sure they were well taken care of.

To understand just how special my mother was and is, I had to travel back 66 years ago. My grandmother had gotten pregnant with this special baby girl. However, during those times, to be pregnant and unwed was a huge social eyesore. It was an embarrassment to family. It was a disgrace to be in school and learn with the other children. My grandmother was both unwed AND just 14 years old. My great-grandmother, living in this era, did what she thought was best. She sent my grandmother away to Cleveland, OH with her father's family. Her instructions were to have the baby and leave it there, then come back home to resume a "normal" life. At just 14 years old, my grandmother KNEW that this was not going to be the plan. In her womb, she already loved this child. She knew that her daughter was a gift from God and what some called rebellion, she called it accepting the beautiful blessing that was bestowed upon her. After a few days of giving birth had passed, she wrapped her baby up in the middle of the night, packed up her clothes, and "kidnapped" her own child, running away from OH and bringing the embarrassment of a baby back to her mother's house in GA. My grandmother, for her child, risked EVERYTHING, from continuing an education to letting go of her dream of becoming a singer and star on the big screen. She carried the weight upon her back and raised this child, MY MOTHER, the best way that she could.

Ever since I can remember, i knew of this story. However, I also knew that my great grandmother came to love her grandchild and even more so her great grandchildren. I remember being cared for by my great grandma, Rosa Belle, after school or during the evening when my mother was working. She always had candy for me or had a "piece of money" to keep in my pocket. Although I cannot be for certain, I believe that her huge love for me was her way of reconciling the debt of wanting to give my mother away many years prior. I believe that when she looked at me, she saw my mother.

My mother is the moon, the stars and the sunshine. Ever since I can remember, my mother would carry my great grandmother, the woman who had never planned on her "existing", to the grocery store, to doctor's appointments, making sure she her clothes were washed and all the things a grand daughter should do. I never once heard my mother raise her voice, be disrespectful or remind my great grandmother of the family secret and poor decision she made about her life. I not only saw the love, but I also felt it. It was a very emotional time, when my great grandmother became ill and my mother received the phone call in the wee hours of the morning that her grandmother, my great grandmother, Rosa Belle Ellis had gone on to be with the Lord.

My beloved grandmother, Ernestine, who had been diagnosed with mental illness from traumatic experiences in her own life, was also being cared for by my mother. My grandmother, was the apple of my eye and she loved me just the same. My spunk, my laughter, my zeal for life ALL come from her. She also loved and cherished my mother beyond measure. My mother was always there; always, making sure she was taken care of and not wanting for anything. That was the testament for the selflessness of my mother. She took care of her also, until the Lord called my grandmother home.

Her service didn't just stop at her grandmother and mother, I also witnessed her taking care of the elderly neighbors on our street. Everyone knew my mom, Paulette, as the sweet girl in the neighborhood.

As far as i can remember, in my 39 years, all I saw was my mother's servant heart. This was a part of my normal life and I knew no different. It wasn't until I was much older that I came to realize, and appreciate who my mother was. It was really a WOW moment. My mother and my best friend, is the perfect example of what it means to "honor thy mother." That same girl, the one that was both wanted and unwanted, grew up to be the most humble of servants. My mother is revered by her family and respected by the community. People both young and old who know my mother always tell me, "you have a sweet mother and she loves her children". She is indeed the Proverbs 31 Woman.

Today, I show honor to all three of the women who have shaped my life. My Great Grandmother, Rosa Belle; my Grandmother, Ernestine; and of course my Jewel, the one who gave birth to me.

So to Paulette, my mother, it is an honor that God has entrusted me with you. You are my teacher and my life giver. You are a positive influence on my life. You have committed to providing me with life lessons that will help me command my day, maximize my potential and impact the world. You are my mother and I love you. I serve because you have taught me well.

Forever, Paulette's Baby Girl,