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I went to fulfill a speaking engagement in Lowell, Massachusetts.
When it was over, instead of heading home to California for a full day of meetings, I canceled everything and flew back to Milwaukee. Again, I could think of nothing to talk about—though I knew I had buried plenty to say. And then reached for my phone and accidentally (if you believe in accidents) hit the music app, with Mahalia Jackson singing “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” I don’t recall ever having downloaded Mahalia Jackson.
My mom never did see the money that was due to her.
Despite the incident she still gives and encourages others to give, whether is it a donation, or volunteering your time in your community.
I felt they were tears of gratitude, though she never said a word. We had a complicated relationship, my mother and I—this I know for sure. When I left her on my second visit of the week, I was certain it was the last time I’d see her.
Still, I could think of nothing more meaningful to say than “Goodbye, I’ll see you later.” Pitiful for someone who’s made a career of connecting with people.
I read the hospice manual cover to cover, the suggestions about memories to share, lessons learned, what your loved one taught you. I walked into the hot room with my phone playing Mahalia, and then had a better idea—to call my friend Wintley Phipps, the renowned gospel singer, and ask him to sing to my mother a cappella.
He Face Timed from his kitchen table in Florida at in the morning.
She raised my brother and I financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually by herself.
My mom gave her all, by that I mean, she worked two jobs to make sure her children ate properly and that they had the essential amenities to grow happily and successfully.