Some biblical scholars believe that the number 25 represents ‘grace upon grace,’ which is befitting for me today. For it was 25 years ago, that I landed on my Mommy’s doorsteps, depressed, dog-tired, and weary. Life — Living through the riots in Los Angeles; accepting that my oldest son had special needs that would require my love and nurturing for the rest of his days and; understanding that life wasn’t no crystal stair, especially for a woman with brown skin — were the culprits. And for 25 years since that day, the life examples of the five (5) people + 1 named below have carried me through the good and the bad times.
The door-step was in London, and it belonged to my Mom. At the time, she was the Director of the Military Schools for the Department of Defense, Atlantic Region. It would be behind those doors that I heard God’s call to write. It would be there that I begin to embark on a journey that would lead me to you today, introducing a storytelling digital platform that I’m so excited about.
The life examples of the people below would sustain me over the past 25 years in the competitive world of writing. It would be those five names that guided me and shed light on my path as I faced obstacles, dealt with negative people, and overcame tough circumstances.
It is by ‘grace upon grace’ that I woke this Monday morning, still excited and ready to share at www.memekelly.com.
It is because of the five people below plus one very special one that I stand before you today! They are:
It was Georgia Mae, who survived tuberculosis, left Pine Breeze to return to high school and get straight As. Then went on to get a B.A., and masters in education in the 50s and a then a Ph.D., in the 60s. Georgia Mae, sustained by her own inner strength, was later diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in the 70s, when I was a little girl. Again, doctors told us to prepare for her death. But, once again, her strength would not allow her to give up on…
In her final days, the hospital stays were frequent. And one late night, I was lost in the corridors of a hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, where she lived before she came to live with me. I was starving and wanted a late-night snack, after waiting for my Mom to emerge from surgery, where a second mastectomy had been performed.
As I snaked through the hospital corridors, I turned a corner and was stunned. There, hung a life sized portrait of my mother. It was an advertisement for the oncology department of the hospital. At the top, the portrait had big bold letters:
” Follow Your Dreams.”
In smaller letters underneath, my mother shared her story. That she had thrived with cancer because she had not given up on her dreams.
She thrived with cancer for 32 years, as she went from being a teacher, then climbing into ghetto row houses as a social worker, then on to becoming a Superintendent of Schools in Compton, then a Director for the Department of Defense.
And I know she’s looking down on me from heaven today as I launch www.memekelly.com.
Instead, she, simply whispered to me, “Baby, I used to call on the Lord in the fields of Georgia when I was pregnant and tired, eating berries in the field because I was so poor.” She whispered that when she called upon God, he’d given her strength and that she’d SHOUTED in the fields. I borrowed the SHOUT (Shine, Hope, Overcome, Use His Power & Take Charge) from Big mama. The SHOUT has sustained me also for 25 years.
Big mama, who only had a 4th-grade education, was a beautiful, dignified, praying, sweet, and humble soul. That December, 25 years ago, she washed my feet and tended to my three sons, as I moaned about being dog-tired, weary, and depressed.
OPRAH, changed her theme song to her show the year that I landed in London on my Mama’s doorstep. The song, I’m Every Woman, Whitney Houston’s version, was a dog whistle, I believe, for sisters and white women too, near and far, to live our dreams like she was doing.
It was that year that I heard God’s call on my life to share stories. I would stay in London the entire year, and I would write my first novel, without an outline. It’s title was On Edge. I would write all day, and then at 3, I would stop and I would dance. I would dance to I’m Every Woman by Whitney Houston, as Oprah came on. When I returned to the United States, I would use that song in every book signing, in every reading, and in every play that I would write.
So, you can imagine that I was crying last night when Oprah said it had been twenty-five years since Sydney Poitier received the Cecil V. DeMille award. And that watching him receive that award, while sitting on her Mama’s linoleum floor in 1964, had changed her life. And twenty five years ago, Oprah and her theme song changed my life!
MARK, is my favorite book in the bible. It’s believed that the gospel of Mark is the closest and most authentic summary of Jesus’ life. And in it, is my favorite scripture. A scripture that I have taped to my bathroom cabinet so that I never feel overwhelmed no matter what life brings to me. It’s the scripture that keeps me humble and reminds me that I must always forgive others.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
And Mark leads me to my final person:5PETER, my favorite apostle. His story is the reason I stand before you today, excited and ready to share stories on my new digital platform, despite past failures! Peter’s lessons help us grow in trust and knowledge of God. It was Peter, whom God commanded to walk on water.
And in my favorite story of the bible, it was Simon’s (Peter’s) boat that God stepped into. It was there that God found Peter ‘depressed, dog-tired, and weary:) God asked Simon-Peter to go further out in the water, because, most scholars, believe, God’s voice was amplified in deeper water.
Simon-Peter was in a mood similar to what I told my Bigmama I was experiencing while she washed my feet. He was tired and he didn’t want to try anymore. He protested and told God that he had fished all night and caught nothing, but then said ,
Because of my hubby’s support, I’m able to ask.
Finally, I leave you with the music that I wrote to this morning, another soul song, a song that says,
“If only you knew, how much I need you.” I do need you! Your support would mean the world to me. It takes a village to do anything in this world. I need you to share www.memekelly.com with your friends and family.
The song is by Ms. Patti Labelle
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this note.
“It’s about a revolution.”
when the special ones
look within and decide how to make their lives
the world a better place,
propelling them into