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May 2, 2014
I’ve come to abhor the second sunday in May…(for Dorothy Elizabeth White) #1 The Bio…
I was born in 1955 to a man i can’t begin to tell you how much i idolized. (RIP Daddy) and to woman who was EVERYTHING to me. Her name is/was Dorothy Elizabeth White. I want to pay homage to the woman who inspired me to always be present..
My mother was born August 10th 1925 to Ernest and Mollie White. She grew up in segregated Virginia, Palmyra in Fluvanna County. She was a hard working child being the oldest daughter in the family. My grandfather died long before i came along but he was said to be a mean man. Mama “looked” different (or so he felt) from the other gurls. That and feeling that my grandmother “stepped out” on him caused him to be violent even at times abusive to my grandmother and my mama. Mama older brother Billy was the one who would intercede and ensure it wouldn’t go too far. My mom told me once she was doing the washing (they took in washing and ironing to make ends meet) and she was on her period. She got dizzy and my grandma told her she could lie down. When he came in and saw the chores weren’t done, he called my mama out in the front room and proceeded to beat her senseless. One of her siblings went out to get my Uncle Billy who came in and stopped the fiasco. He had grown strong and was my grandfathers height. He snatched the belt he was using (buckle first) and told him if he ever laid a hand on “Dot” again he would strangle him with it. My mom told me after that when she became old enough she would take day work in the white folks homes just to get out of the house.
Attending school ended for my mom in about the tenth grade. She became amorous with a man name Frank and with one thing leading to another she became pregnant. When she told him, he walked away from her like he didn’t even know her. Several months later it was learned he took up with one of my moms aunts. Dorothy didn’t let that deter her she kept working and striving and surviving. On a cold day in late December she gave birth to her first daughter, Doris. After Doris was born Mama branched out and would go to Washington DC for day work. Doris stayed with our grandmother and grew up with her cousins. She never wanted for family and love while mama worked and sent home what she could . My mom also had relatives in Philly and she would go there when work was available. This was her life.
In 1946 a guy she knew (from the families growing up in Palmyra) returned home from the War. He will filled with “Piss and Vinegar” as he stated and ready for loose women hard drinking and trouble. His name was/is Granville White. Mama not falling in the loose catagory would see him out in the hangouts for Negroes, speak and keep it moving. He grew a fancy for her. He liked her strong will. He knew and heard stories about her dad and how her boyfriend RAN away when she got pregnant and he told me many times that he felt she was a woman of character. He would ask her if she wanted to go out with him and 9 times out of 10 she said no. Well lucky him the tenth time was a charm. They would walk talk and share dealing with the present and wondering about the future. Granvilles older brother James had left Virginia after the war and moved to NJ. He told Granville to come on up to visit and he could get him a job. My dad was determined to go back to California one of his duty stations but when he got to NJ he liked it and decided to stay. About six months after he moved to NJ he asked Mama to come north. She arranged to move in with her aunts in Philly and they resumed dating and seeing each other. About a month after she moved north, my dad said he decided he wanted her with him and moved her to NJ. July of that year they were out walking and passed a chapel, and he asked her if she wanted to get married. She said yes and July 27, 1947 they were married.
In 1948 she gave birth to her second daughter in August named Paula. It wasn’t even three months when she discovered she was pregnant again. In July of 1949 she gave birth to her third daughter, Janice. She also went to Virginia to bring her daughter Doris to NJ. Doris would bounce between her two homes until she entered high school at Plainfield High. They lived in a cramped apt, on fourth street in Plainfield NJ. My dad worked hard to make ends meet. He worked at Johns Manville in Manville NJ and did a hustle or two on the side when money was needed. Can we say he sold liquor on Sunday when it was illegal but thats another story.
After Janice was born Mama got very sick. It took numerous test, doctor visits but eventually she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She was 25 years old. It hit sudden and it hit with a full wallop. She suffered greatly and needed help taking care of her daughters. It was so bad at certain points they didn’t know if she would make it. My father never doubted she would. He knew she was a strong woman with a strong constitution. However there were rough days ahead and a lot of medicine and doc visits.
Approximately five years later my mom decided she wanted to have another baby. My dad was dead set against it as was her doctors. Mama was adamant and so my dad acquiesced. She became pregnant and her doctors advised against it. They offered her a “medical termination” and she said NO this one i want. The apt where they lived was far too cramped to bring a new baby in, so with Gods grace My dad was able to purchase a home on Manson Place in Plainfield NJ. They moved in October and on the twentieth day in November she had her fourth, her LAST daugher Audrey Mae….(ME)
I had 46 years with my mom before The Lord called her home. Now She remains in my Heart and Soul forever. Im told im the spitting image of her as i age. Thats the highest compliment anyone can bestow.
As Lenny Kravitz once wrote “Tell me Mama How is Freedom”
I will always love you…