Requiem for My Friend

Eleven years ago, I was back in Jefferson City, for the first time since graduation. So much had changed. So much was still familiar. I sat across a table in the cafeteria from my dear friend, as I had done many times in undergrad. We laughed like we always did. He marveled at my kid. (I only had one at that time.) We reminisced about old times. He told me about all the new things going on. I fussed at him for coming to Kansas City and not calling me. He told me to come back to Jefferson City more often. We hugged and agreed to do better.

Today, as I type this, they are funeralizing my friend. And while I never made it back to Jefferson City, we did keep in touch. Sometimes I called the radio station while he was working. Sometimes we emailed back and forth. He’d call to ask me what to get his girlfriend for Christmas. I’d call to tell him when I had yet another kid. (There are only three, but every time I made my announcement, he would be flabbergasted.)

Lavaughn was the kind of friend every girl needs when she gets to college. He was protective like a big brother, but without the familial obligation. He questioned my decisions, not because he was judging me(though i’m sure he secretly was), but because he really wanted me to be able to justify my stances. He told me what the other guys were saying about me when I wasn’t in the room. He’d help me study, and share his stash. I don’t know if I would have survived Lincoln University without him. I might have starved without all those free chicken wings from the Blue Room.

I will miss our off the wall conversations. I will always remember him as the “chaperone” on our Black College Radio Trip, and his harsh critiques of my radio performances.

I could not make it to Jefferson City today, but my heart is certainly there.

In memory of LaVaughn A. Wilson, Jr. z


Steady Love

So, we need to talk about the beauty that is India Arie’s new music video.  We need to talk about how her blown out hair and the head wraps, the pregnancy test and the pancakes, the finger- snapping,  the hand- clapping for emphasis and most importantly that sparkly jewel on her left hand. We need to talk about all of it.

If you have not seen it, stop what you’re doing and watch it now.

So many good things about this video.  I’m not sure where to begin.  Oh, let’s start with the fierceness of the songstress herself.  Ms. Arie is resplendent  in this video.  Whether she is rocking a red lip and a form-fitting dress, or an apron, I find it hard to look away.  I don’t think I have ever seen her look healthier or happier. She is darn near glowing  in every scene.

Oh and let’s not forget her co-star, who manages to be fine in jeans and a t-shirt for most of the video .  (We see your gray sweatpants, and those, pecs peeking through Mr. Banner), and then they ratchet it up, and put the man in a suit.  The gray in the goatee, the fresh haircut, the years have been kind to this brother.

Then we get the story line of the video, two beautiful brown people living and loving together, walking through everyday life.  We see them cooking breakfast, reading books, watching TV, having an argument.  It’s like every day at my house.  (I’m just kidding.  I ain’t got time to be cooking breakfast, or fighting with my man on a daily basis.  Those are weekend activities at our house.)

When India rolls her eyes in this video, I saw myself.  When she grabs her purse and walks out the door, I completely understood. But when she’s sitting there on that couch next to him wearing that same outfit just seconds later, I know she probably never made it out of the house.  I never do.

And finally, the words to this song say everything I think about my man.  His love is steady.  It’s my baseline.  I have my highs and lows, but the love we share is both humbling and uplifting.  I love the way he looks at me.  He does make me feel like a girl.  He’s an excellent father, and y’all know my husband loves a good book, (not so much, with the basketball, though).  But when she gets to the vamp, I promise she stole those words right from my journal.  And as she sings my favorite line, “and if life is going to be crazy anyway, I want to do it with him”, I want to throw my shoe when she hits that bottom note.

This song is my generations “Same Old Love.”   It’s the story of two people choosing to work things out.  I love it.  And if you can’t tell, I love me some Ernie Radford!


Marvel -Us

We took the kiddos to see Captain Marvel this weekend. The movie is receiving mixed reviews, but I loved it! My initial thought was that anybody who didn’t like this movie fell into one of two categories, chauvinist pigs or Marvel nerds who were mad that the movie script didn’t stick closely enough to the comic book story they love so much. I know that this is an unfair characterization. I know most critiques are more nuanced than that.

I am just a casual Marvel fan. I haven’t seen all of the movies. I don’t know anything about the infinity stones, except the tesseract, and I know very little about that. I hadn’t even heard of Captain Marvel before a couple of years ago. But as a casual Marvel fan, this movie was absolutely everything I needed in a movie. Here’s a list of my 5favorite things about this movie.

  1. Girl Power. While watching the film, I remember thinking: Every little girl (and boy) needs to watch this. I also remember thinking, ‘I see why some people hate this.’ I pray that my son doesn’t become one of those people. I pray that my girls never have to deal with those people.
  2. Monica Rambo – I saw a little girl who looks like she could be one of mine prominently featured in a superhero movie. She wasn’t a victim. She wasn’t waiting to be saved. She was just a bright, beautiful girl with lots of questions. I need her and Shuri to get together and save the entire world.
  3. The refugee story. Every Marvel movie I have seen offers at least a tiny bit of commentary on the world’s politics and current events. To avoid any spoilers, I will simply say that this movie was no different.
  4. Samuel L Jackson. That is all I have to say about that.
  5. The soundtrack! I had to force myself not to sing along with a few of the songs. And I wanted that Nine Inch Nails T-shirt

Overall, this movie was about the triumph of the human spirit and it was exactly what we all need right now.

State of Emergency

It’s 7:00am in Kansas City and i’ve Already heard three sets of sirens this morning. I know it’s going to be an interesting day.

It’s 7:00 am, and i’ve already seen on Facebook two families breaking up. That jolted me e even more than the early morning sirens.

You may think these things are completely unrelated, but I do not. Because when I hear sirens or divorce rumors, i respond the same way. I immediately start to pray.

I pray for the parties involved. I pray for peace and wellbeing. I pray for comfort and safe-keeping. I pray for the first responders, whether, it be the police, or the pastor, the EMT or the marriage counselor. I just pray.

It’s what I do in the state of emergency. I’m not great in a crisis. I tend to the wounded as best as I can, but i’m not a medical professional, but I know how to call the Great Physician. I’ll hug you if the situation calls for it, but most people know better than to turn to me for comfort. But I know how to call on the Comforter.

It’s 7:00am in Kansas City and I am on high alert. The world around me is going crazy. There have been too many reports of missing persons. Several shootings have occurred, some involving law enforcement. I prayed for them.

It’s 7:00am, and my kids are safe and sound in their beds. Hubby is on his way to work, and i’m Praying for them too.

I’m praying for us all. It’s all I know to do.

Breathe Again

I have been waiting to exhale for several weeks. Not like in a Whitney Houston kind of way. (I do that every time my husband comes home from work. I love me some him.)

The last two months have been a series of running for long stretches and then trying to catch my breath. In the process duties were neglected. I fell behind at work and at home. I lost weight because I didn’t have time to eat. I’ve literally been pulling out my hair.

For the last six weeks, i have felt like I needed a good cry, but i didn’t have the time, nor the energy to waste on tears. I felt like I must’ve done something wrong, and that I was reaping some poison pill I must have sown…except I don’t remember sowing any poison pill. I don’t wish any bad things on anybody. I actually pray for people I don’t like on a regular basis. (There is one exception, of course, because eff that dude for life. I’m a Christian, but i’m also human. The Lord is still working on me.)

Yesterday, I felt like there was finally a break in the storm. I got a couple of major things done.

I still have a couple of large projects that require my attention, but I don’t feel like I’m completely submerged. I decided to skip work today (mainly because my husband told me to.) I’m lying on my couch with a baby on my chest, just listening for breath sounds, from the kids, from my husband who is breathing loudly (snoring softly) in the other room. And I realize the rise and fall of my own chest.

I am so grateful for this small break. I know it will be short-lived. Every one will wake soon and the running will commence…but for right now, i’m enjoying every breath.

Mama Radford
P.S. I stopped and prayed for that dude immediately after typing that sentence. It was hard and not my best prayer, but I tried at least. I still hope for both our sakes I don’t see him in these streets!

Not the Mama!

Mother’s day is not for me. I was convinced of that fact yesterday, and it was confirmed this morning, as I struggle with a severe case of the Mondays, with an extra dose of exhaustion, and unfamiliar aches and pains.

Mother’s day is for parents of adult children. Children who have jobs and can afford to buy you a bouquet, or at least a card give different kinds of gifts than those that are still in diapers. Parents of adult children are pleasantly surprised when one of their offspring joins them on the pew on Sunday and then offers to take them to lunch. Mothers like me who have to dress our children for, and then drag them to church on Sunday do not have the same experience. I have to practically wrestle to get all three of mine to sit in a pew. I’ve got one who kicked her shoes off, and another crawling on the floor tearing up his nice church pants. By the end of morning service, I generally have a run in my stockings, Cheeto stains on my skirt, and a pounding headache. Mother’s day makes it that much worse, as we actually have to struggle to be on time, as the pews will likely be filled with other mothers and their children, some of whom hadn’t been to church since Easter.

Mother’s day is not for me, because it’s still my job to clean up the kitchen after my lovely little people made breakfast for me. I still have to wipe the juice and bread crumbs from the counters, wash all the dishes (why do they use so many dishes) and sweep and possibly mop the floor. Or maybe it’s an odd year, and we have enough money to splurge on brunch. In which case, my head is throbbing because I’m going to have to pay $10 for chicken nuggets and french fries, and argue with the oldest about why she can’t order the lobster scampi from the adult menu.

Mother’s day is not for me, because it’s still my job to make sure my mother and my mothers-in-law(lucky me, I have two), aunties, cousins, and friends feel appreciated. I’ve got to shop and plan deliveries, purchase cards, and I will inevitably leave somebody out. Somebody will be missing from the list…and I’ll feel like crap, because of course, those other mothers deserve to know how wonderful we think they are. They are absolute blessings and I want each of them to know it.

Mother’s day, like every other day of the year, is for my children. It is so they can show me their handy work with pipe cleaners and crayons. It’s so they can test out their newly learned language skills, and write me a heartfelt poem. Best card I got this year was from my boy. It read
“Pop, pop, fizz, fizz.
A great mother you is!”

This toppled my brother’s “Apples, Apples” poem for the most notorious family poem. This is no small feat, as “Apples, Apples” has been at the top of the chart for more than 20 years.

Mother’s day was created so that they can feel good about themselves. It was created so these tiny little creatures who have wrecked our bodies and our homes, and zapped every bit of energy we used to have, can say “I made that awesome thing for mom. I’m a great kid. I’m probably her favorite.”
And each of them would be right.

I don’t hate mother’s day, but it is not a “holiday” for people like me. We are always the mother, and therefore there is always work to be done.

You know what day I really want? “Not the Mama” day. When the answer to every question is Not the Mama. Can you get me some juice? Not the mama. Will you help me find my shoes? Not the Mama. What’s for dinner? Not the Mama.
So basically, what I’m saying is I’m effing tired. Cut me some slack for the next 24 hours, okay? Is that too much to ask?

Yes, of course it is. What was I thinking?

I am the Mama, after all.

The Problem with Easter

It was one hell of a Holy Week!

I don’t know if all that fasting goes straight to our brains or not. Maybe it was the pink full moon. Whatever caused it, humanity’s collective lack of chill this week was overwhelming. Every strand of my patience was tried at every level and at every location.

Bombs were dropped, both literally and figuratively and I was completely unprepared.

Easter week generally comes with challenges (for me, at least) in the form of questions: Where are we going to eat dinner? What are we going to wear? (Easter keeps landing on what my church has dubbed casual Sundays. Jeans and T-shirts are my hubby’s preferred dress. I, on the other hand prefer full Easter Ensembles complete with bonnets for the girls.) Good Friday service or a good night’s sleep? Sunrise service or Easter breakfast with the kiddos? And last, but certainly not least, what on earth am I going to do with my hair?

This year, I didn’t care about any of that stuff. I was so mad by the time Maundy Thursday came around that I knew I better get myself in somebody’s sanctuary, or somebody else was going to put me in an asylum. Please don’t get me wrong, I found no fault with the suffering savior…but some of his supposed followers were definitely on my shit list.

So I went to church three times this weekend, and heard from the Lord (at least once).

And I prayed and I cried, because I know the weight of my own sin and shame.  And I imagine, heaven’s perfect lamb, bearing that weight for me.  I am unworthy.  But he loves me anyway, attitude, afro, and all.  The beauty of the cross is that it makes that kind of love available to me, and I am so grateful.

The problem with Easter, though, is that it also makes that kind of love and forgiveness available to THEM:  the murderer, the child molester, the adulterer, the pilfering pastor, the fool that cut me off in traffic, and the co-worker who deserved every syllable of that tongue lashing I gave her…all of THEM…all of US.

The cross is the great equalizer.  They are as worthy of grace and forgiveness as I am.

Ouch and Amen.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.

Not your run of the mill Easter message.