She turns her face to the window as if she is looking out for the answer. After a few moments she looks back in my direction with a large smile.
I nod my head. I get it.
"Yes, Mommy. That is always the answer." I smile back at her but I know she can not see my face.
My mother began to lose the vision in her left eye at the age of 12. Growing up on the island of Trinidad, WI, she told me that she remembered her eyes always felt sensitive to the bright sun of her country.
"I don't remember exactly when the vision started to go, but I know I always had a hard time recognizing faces."
The middle girl of 8 sisters and brothers, my mom, Celia, was known to them has REDS or Hedda (Heather is her middle name) but she loved the nickname Headzen, that was given to her by her mom who passed nearly 25 years ago, close to the same time Celia begin to lose vision in the right eye.
"My mom used to tell me, don't worry Headzen, you will make it, you can do it, so don't worry, be happy." She recalls the memory with a smile as that was one of her mother's favorite sayings.
And that is what encouraged Celia to keep going no matter what obstacle came her way. And boy were there many obstacles.
Celia moved to America at the age of 17 to live with her mom that was already living in the US and working as a nanny.
"It was weird to know that my mom was taking care of another child while we were all down in Trinidad. But as I grew up, I understand that she did what she had to do to provide for us. I appreciate it so much more now."
Soon after moving to America, Celia joined the Pentecostal Church, PHP and begin to attend bible school. At that time she had impeccable vision in her right eye so her sight was not a concern or thought. Her personality is awesometagious so she made many friends and became very close with her new church family.
She met her husband in the church and soon after getting married, they began to start their family.
(I am her first born)
While still living in NYC and attending church very regularly, Celia discovered her love for preaching, teaching, and making hats. This super creative woman is a natural entrepreneur and began to make a fortune making and selling unique hats, hat pins, and accessories. She called the business 'Heather's Hats".
She would throw fashion shows and direct weddings. She saved up enough money for her and her husband to buy their first home at the young age of 29 which was incredible in the NYC economy.
Ms. Cook, as I love to call her, would let me play and create hats of my own in her 'shop'. I credit her with my creative flare and vision. She let me explore and encouraged my entrepreneurial spirit.
Celia was constantly striving for the best for her 3 girls. When I asked her what her purpose was in life, she quickly responded, "To be a excellent mother and grandmother, that's it."
Well ,purpose fulfilled, as she took us to Virginia for better education and opportunities.
"I wanted the best for you and at the time, I don't know why, but I thought it was the best decision."
Not long after moving to Virginia and working for the school board, Ms. Cook began to lose the vision in her right eye.
"One day, I woke up and noticed dots, I knew the vision was going but I had my girls to raise. I could not stop, so I worked harder."
I was 12 when we got into the car accident.
It was not weird or unusual for me that my mother was going blind. It just was what it was. She was there for us, and we, my sisters and I, were there for her. We made it through all of the tough times together. Most of the time people never knew what we were going through, but we made it day by day with faith.
"Jazzy, I am so grateful. God sent so many people to help me out at that time. The blind association, the people from church, friends from work. I taught myself not to worry. I taught myself to be calm and trust that things will work out. That is what I tell you all the time, right?"
Even after blindness, Celia earned her Masters Degree in Theology, successfully ran a home day care, traveled and preached all around the United States, and even decided to buy a home in her birth country, Trinidad.
Ms. Cook owns a very special parrot in Trinidad. The colorful and talkative bird's name is COURAGE. I asked her why she named him that...
"When I was in the hospital in total darkness, no one thought that I would get my vision back. My family was all very afraid. Apparently the hospital was rinky dink and old but because I could not see, I imagined the best.
I always imagine the best.
People would ask me how I was doing, and I would just say that I was blessed no matter what, because I am, you know. Well after that, I would just hear people talking to each other about me.
The nurses, my family, my friends, they just kept saying, Wow, she is so courageous.
I never thought of myself as a courageous person, I just know that I make the choice everyday to do what I need to do, to do what needs to be done, to the best of my ability. I know that God will handle the rest. HE has never failed me yet.
So when the vision began to come in, bit by bit, and I was able to go home, my friend brought me a the parrot as a gift.
We were thinking of all kinds of names that started with "P"... Pettie, Paulie, Percy, but nothing fit. Then it hit me, COURAGE.
I knew it was a weird name, but I didn't care, he was my COURAGE manifest to remind me of what it takes to go through a trial all the way to triumph.
Now I know, I AM A COURAGEOUS WOMAN!"
(((She smiles so big.)))
"Mommy, do you have any regrets?"
"No." She says it almost too quick and then decided to take it back.
"You know what Jasmaine, I regret not going on for my PhD. I made up so many reasons why I should not go, but now I know it was fear. Fear is the success killer. Faith is the success creator. I know better now and life is not done. I have a bucket list, you know."
"Yeah?" I look over at her with her sunglasses on, nails painted, and lipgloss poppin. I hope I look as sparktacular as she does when I am 60.
"Yup! I am going to Africa, I am going to Hawaii, and I am going to make it to Barcelona. I also want to stay strong and fit until the day I die. I promise to never give up on life because of my vision. I will not let this one little thing keep me from joy."
My dimples hurt from smiling and envisioning my Mommy getting off the plan in the "Motherland" with a wide brim hat tilted to the side and a flowing dress blowing in the breeze.
As I know my mom, she will make it happen.
"You know you can do anything you put your mind to. The key is only allowing your thoughts to stay focused on what you want. Stay optimistic. Your mom might be blind, but I can see with faith. God is not through with me yet."
Check out my mom, Celia Cook, as she is featured in my new HipNoticHop Music Video.
You can contribute to the
HIPNOTICHOP KICKSTARTER campaign where I am committed to using music as a vehicle to continue to share the love and inspiration as it is given to me to any one that will hear so that we can make life for the whole dag gone world!
...One thought at a time.
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