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And what hasn’t this woman done for me? What hasn’t she done for her children?


She is gentle. Loves smiling. But, she is tough. She works so hard, men respect her. She is so fierce, she is revered in our hometown as The Iron Lady. Let me tell you how revered she is.

In our community, when a child is stubborn, all they tell that child is, “We are taking you to Ma Ceci’s house.” That’s it! That child instantly readjusts. Sometimes, the children change so much that the parents pray that they revert just a little. When a child gets out of hand at school, the bring that child to Ma Ceci’s house. Those kids used to beg their parents not to bring them to mom’s house.Now, mom doesn’t beat kids. I don’t know what she does but…whatever she does works. Well, she used to beat my black behind if you were wondering. Straightened me up. But, mom doesn’t have to. It was never her style unless it had to be. Strangely, these same kids loved visiting the house to eat and talk with mom. They laughed, joked, and went by first names. They always filled the house to play games and watch movies. But, if some kid knew he did something wrong, he ran away when mom got back.

Family members feared visiting her as well. Mom has a sharp tongue. By sharp, I mean discerning and blunt. It was a love-hate relationship with that tongue you see. People loved and hated her tongue and approached it only when there was trouble and there was absolutely no other way to avoid it.

We had children in our extended family who weren’t doing well in school and perhaps were promiscuous. Well, they took them to “Ma Ceci’s house.” These kids took ONE year to pass an exam that took TWO years to study and prepare for. Perhaps, their main objective was to get out of Ma Ceci’s house. Are you feeling the Iron Lady yet?

Ohhh…but there were so many moments and memories.

Mom’s Lethal Right Hand!

Another reason they called her Iron Lady was because of her left jab and right uppercut. I had the unique privilege of sizing up that and discovering just how creative her left jab and right-Mike Tyson-uppercut felt when I decided to argue for accounting instead of medicine after high school. Now, imagine I am in the boxing ring. Ding…ding….the front yard turned boxing ring. As its customary, she wrapped that African wrapper (clothe ladies wear around their waist) round her waist with three strokes. That right there, those three strokes, meant–run!  Then, she began bouncing like a Kangaroo, throwing air punches as she approached. Finally, wham wham….! I felt the wind. I was saved by her sister who held her from finishing what she started. Details coming soon.

And do not even get me started about the showdown and WWE Rumble between me and grandma who was about 85 yrs old at the time. Let’s just say, after she gave me a choke slam, someone had to take her out. Enough said! Let’s just give glory to God for her life. I see where momma took those moves from. But, grandma raised me. She is my hero and mom just builds on her heroism.

There is another reason I think many gave her that title–the Iron Lady. After being dumped at the equivalent of the marriage altar three times, she never wasted her tears. She invested them into her 4 boys. She raised us alone, sent us to the best schools she could afford, worked her way out of poverty, took care of other people’s children, fed us, and did her best to raise us. She worked into night hours, fought men physically and intellectually, and overcame abandonment, discrimination, harassment, failure, dissension, bitterness, and poverty. Phew…what a mom. She is a legend.

Many children have passed through her house and though her hands. She teaches single women, sends orphans to school, and takes care of grandma’s, matriarchs in their prime (70>grandma>100 yrs old). It is a privilege for me to call her Mom. Her legacy and grandma’s legacy is what I carry as a blessing.

Even though all of her kids are now adults, mom is still the first to know when something is up and call. She called almost everyday, to preach, encourage, and impart wisdom, counsel, and strength when we were down. She is the first to send us resources even though we should be taking care of her. She would say, “You are my children. Ignore what other people say. If I don’t love and care for you, who will? If I don’t encourage you who will? If you suffer, I suffer. But when you emerge, I will rejoice.” Ohhh….the things Ma Ceci has done for us.

For now, here is something she transmitted to us when my brothers and me were going through difficult times. Below is a close recollection and adaptation:

In life, you will suffer before you enjoy the goodies of life. For some, it will be two years and then in between. For others, that suffering will concentrate for five straight years. Others, it may be ten. Some will enjoy life and then down the road, say ten years in, they suffer for two and maybe more years before everything falls into place. Regardless, be strong. You must succeed. God cannot fail me.

She told me in pidgin-english:

Boy, you be man pikin. You go suffer. I don tell you say, as man pikin, God get for teach you. God get for take you hard place them. You go through plenty different canna situation so that you fit know how for live with all things. But when ya time cam, you go flourish ma pikin. Just wait. Just be patient.

Translation: Son, you are a man. As a man, you will suffer. You will go through all types of suffering. God has to teach you and take your through different kinds of hard places so that you can learn to live with all things and in all situations. But, when you time comes, you will flourish my son. Just watch. just be patient (You know God’s clock is sometimes broken).

On another occasion she said:

Ma pikin, when you dey for some man ey house wey way no dey, do all tin wey dey ask you. Take any shit wey dem give you. Ya own go cam. Just humble yaself.

Translation: When you are in a place where you are not in control, be humble and respectful. Take whatever “shit” is given to you. Yours is on the way.

Its interesting that one of the blessings the Iron Lady and Grandma/Bigmami D’ gave me was that I would have many mothers. They, in a sense, prophesied it. They said my many mothers would appear when I was about to make a transition. They said, many mothers would appear when I needed it, when I least expected it, and when I was in trouble. They sent these blessings through prayer into my future. Well, if I began to name the many “mothers,” – literally – mothers who have come alongside me to lift me up, I wouldn’t know where to start and I might forget to list them all. But, as I honor the Numero Uno mujer, I honor my many mothers in this tribute. You know yourselves. I not only carry the Iron Lady’s legacy. I carry yours too. There are One. Each legacy is a continuation of the other. We do have a big God who weaves these things behind the scenes. We all know that don’t we?


Let me end where it began with me – during her pregnancy.

Mom told me that when she was pregnant with me, someone tried to kill me (details later). She never knew God. But, she went out one day, looked up to the skies and said, “God, if you are real and you are out there, save my baby. If you do, I will worship you and give my life to you.”

Easy prayer. Except I have come to know God as a master negotiator and deal maker. The day I was being born, mom said she received news of the death of those who meant her harm. Well….the Sovereignty of God.

Now, am I not right to say mom is my hero? I’m I not justified to be thankful to God for my life? I’m not equally justified then to find out why I was born and live it out? Speaking of, don’t you know you are justified in seeking God and finding out why you were uniquely crafted by him?

Enough said!

But, for a mother’s love…


I love you mom.



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