By Ingrid Herndon Greene
New York, NY (BlackNews.com) — Love never fails. I was very glad to know that. My family was full of love. Over the years it is what kept us together. My mother and father manifested their love for one another. It was just natural for them to hug and kiss especially after mom prepared a good meal. During the week mom and dad worked. It was great though when we all could sit at the dinner table together. We always had nourishing food on the table and we were glad about that.
My family celebrated all the major holidays with gusto. For the holidays my mother invited more family members to the house. She just loved to cook and cooking was something she was good at. She expressed a desire for our family to be close. Mom lived a good long life and she gave us a lot of love. She never complained about having a lot of work to do and functioned on just a few hours of rest. She just seemed to have a lot of energy. Mom kept herself busy. If it is true that a wise woman builds her house, then Elizabeth Herndon, the Â“tar heel girlÂ” as she called herself, would be considered very wise. She loved to decorate and she made quite a comfortable home. She was also a God fearing woman who went to church every Sunday. She encouraged her children to go to church as well. When we were young she dressed us up real fancy and took us to church with her. She said, Â“We should always give God some of our time.Â” When I was a little girl she got down on her knees with me at the side of my bed to teach me the LordÂ’s Prayer. She made sure that I learned to pray. Mom also took good care of my hair. She went to the hair dressers every two weeks. She came home with her hair dolled up and had her finger nails polished too. Mom smiled a lot and was soft spoken when we were young because dad was alive and she was happy.
Grandma lived with us too; she was motherÂ’s mother. Grandma took care of us while mom and dad worked during the week. Mom loved grandma a whole lot too. Mom worked as a maid for a wealthy Jewish family and Horace Herndon my dad, was a taxi cab driver. He worked the night shift.
Between the two of them all of our needs were met and all of the bills got paid quietly. They never argued over money. Over all we had a blessed family. Our family lived in the borough of Manhattan uptown in the village of Harlem. My older brother and I were born in Harlem Hospital in the nineteen fifties. Mom was a change of life mother. This was her second marriage and I was the youngest of her children.
Our family started out in a tenement building which had no elevator and lots of stairs to climb. We lived on the fifth floor. Mom wanted to move into the projects and eventually she moved us twelve blocks away into the Drew Hamilton projects. It was just opening in 1964. The buildings were brand new. Mom was excited because our building had elevators. When we moved there I was about eight years old. Mom was a very friendly neighbor and she soon became the sixth floor captain. She made herself helpful to the other tenants on our floor. We had plenty of heat and hot water and the lights stayed on. It was a sunny well lit apartment and mom was very contented there. She loved plants and she put them in all the windows.
She made the house Â“homeyÂ” and welcoming. Dad, Grandma Freddie, Cliff, and I were all very happy with momÂ’s charming ways.
A year after we moved into the projects dad suffered a major heart attack.
He was admitted into St. ClareÂ’s Hospital and lived through open heart surgery. Then, after one month dad died. His death came as a shock to us all. MomÂ’s loving husband was gone.
My mother was a praying woman. After dad died she said that God would lead her and help her raise up us kids. She missed dad very much. The apartment felt empty without dadÂ’s presence. We all looked up to him and gave him the utmost respect. He spoke with authority and we depended on him for many things. He was a kind hearted man and the Â“tar heel girlÂ” never remarried because no man could take dadÂ’s place. My mother just faithfully went to the Baptist church. She relied on the members of the church for friendship and from the pastor she received guidance. Getting over her grief was a slow process but she managed. She was lucky to have her job which kept her busy all week long. The weekends went by quickly also with doing chores and preparing for church. I recall how the phone was constantly ringing with the church sisters calling to talk to her.
However mom never put us kids out of her mind.
To learn more about Ms. Ingrid Herndon Greene’s work, contact her at [email protected] or call (347) 702-3633.
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