Ya use ta know me. Now you walk on by, not even realizing who I am. Ya use ta love me. I was like a Mama ta ya. I brought you up, washed your laundry, wiped ya runny nose. Put my own chillun's aside ta look aftern you. Ma kids, dey took care of demselves de best dey knew how. Dey knew dere Mama had to make a livin.
Yea, I 'member ya little mischeivous smile. You'se always up ta somethin. Full of energy. Full of life. At first, t'was just a job. Den, I got all attached ta ya. You'se like one of ma own. You was a bit different. You'se special. Had a kind heart. Just as daring as I ever seen too. Dat's why you'se always gettin hurt.
And I... I'd hold you in my lap and rub ya, till ya felt all bettern again. Yep... I 'member you. Now I see the pain in your eyes when you walk by. I'm thinkin, where'd dat kind heart go. It's still dere. Underneath de wall you built 'round it. Yea, it's still dere. Just gotta bit taken vantage of, dat's all.
I 'member da day you ran ta me cryin. Said ya saw you old neighbor walkin down the street with her cane. Said ya wanted ta help her. Other kids were teasing the mean ole lady. Den she toppled over and fell. You ran ta her side to help her and she smacked ya good and told you not ta ever try taken her purse again. You'se so hurt cause ya just wanted to help. Ya friends were laughin at ya. Didn't understand why you wanted ta help dat mean ole woman. But I knew. Ya had a good heart son.
I'se justa sittin here in dis ole place. I wonders 'bout my chillun's. I'se got 3 still livin and two died. I miss'em. Ma oldest son still come by ever Sunday after church. He, his wife and his little gal. She a cutie too. Dey look aftern me da best dey know how. I understand dey got's ta make a liv'in. Ma daughter done gone out ta LA. She met herself a man out dere and started a family. She come by once or twice a year. She brang her 3 little ones wit her last time. Dey some ironry little things. Three boys and the middle one 'minds me of you. And ma baby boy...he a lawyer in New york city. All my kids went north 'cept ma oldest son. Wish my other two who died would've stayed here in de south. Might still be 'live today if dey had.
Ya ma... she out dere somewhere. I look in her eyes, but she not dere most of da time. She don't member much. Sometimes, I helps her eat. She just stares. She talk ever now and den though. Sometimes I sing ta her. I knows her spirit still live in dere. Longing for da dey it be free to go be wit Jesus, cause her body and mind ain't workin right no mo'. All us old folk here in dis ole place gots our own stories to tell.
We look at you folk and member the old times. Son, 'fore long you be old too. Ya ma, talks sometimes. She go in and out. Said your wife done left ya years ago. Said she took ya babies with her. Said dey all grown up now. Maybe dat's part of da pain I see in your eyes. Where'd ya smile go son. Were be dat darin little boy. I waves at ya in ma ole wheel chair but you walk on by.
I knows ya hurtin. I wish I could hold ya in ma arms like I use ta and rub ya till awl dat pain go 'way. But son, dere's someone who's dere for ya. "Member, I told ya 'bout'em years ago." When I'se a leav'in and you'se a cryin so hard. I told ya, dere's one who'll never leave ya, nor forsake ya. I told ya His name was Jesus. I told ya ta hold on to Him and never let Him go. I gave ya ma ole Bible. Ya mamma said, you already had one and told ya ta give it back. But you said, "No". You wanted this one. I knew you charished it, just cause it t'was mine. Ya held it close ta ya heart. Den ya mom went and gave me ya nice Bible. I didn't want ta take it, but didn't have a choice. All these years later, I still got dat ole Bible of yours. And I still 'member da tears in your eyes dat dey as ya watched me leave. I was leavin one of ma babies, but I knew you'd be alright. I alwasys took ya to God in prayer. I never forgot ya.
When I saw dem bring ya ma in here, I knew her da momen't I saw her. Soon's I got someone to push me over ta her, I asked about ma Joey. "How's Joey doin." First she ignored me, many days she did dat but I always talked ta her. Den from time ta time she started talken. I'd see you come in and talk wit her. She be starin and you be talk'en. I said, Lord, dat's ma Joey. But he done changed. He needs ya, He's a hurtin. You look so cold and stiff most times. Joey, I need ta talk ta ya. I gotta do it. I know you ignore me and awl but I gotta try, cause you my boy too. Just cause we different colors don't mean nuffin. You'se still ma son too. I raised ya, till you'se 15 years ole.
I'm gonna wait right here outside ya ma's room till you done. Got ya ole Bible sittin on ma lap. I'm gonna wait here, Den I gonna 'mind you 'bout Jesus and what I told ya 'fore I left ya awl dose many years ago. I know dis what da good Lord want me ta do. And I want all dat pain to go out of yo eyes. I want Jesus to bring back yo smile. I want ya ta dare to dream again.
Erica Ndaguba is married to a wonderful Nigerian man and they have 4 wonderful kids. They've been married 7 years. She's lived 6 years on the mission field and returned to the States 4 years ago. She used to teach ESL but now she's a fulltime housewife and mother.