Mamie’s Book @ Open Thought


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THE UNFOLDING OF A ROSE

A Touching Story of a Mother’s Love for Her Daughter

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Meta was a beautiful, precocious and curious little girl.

Growing up to be an intelligent and outgoing young woman, Meta graduated with honors and married the man of her dreams.  She had two children and became an entrepreneur, developing a successful business.  Life was wonderful and proud mom, Mamie, couldn’t have been more pleased for her daughter.

Life took a sudden and unexpected turn when Meta learned she had breast cancer.   Meta, with her mother’s help, began a search for the why of what happened.  The two women’s bond became even stronger as they discovered the teachings of Christian Science.

Through their study and practice, they gained a greater understanding of the true meaning of life—the essence and spiritual part of a person—and how that part is what lives on forever.  As Mamie recounts, “I see her (Meta) as planted by divine mind, nurtured by spirit, and yielding the fruits of love.”

This is the story of a mother’s love.  It is a story of a beautiful, young woman whose physical life was cut short by disease.  It is a story of faith, survival, and a message of hope to anyone who has suffered from the loss of a loved one.   Smith’s amazing and beautiful tribute will touch your heart and soul. To purchase, click here: 

 

 

The Unfolding of a Rose

CHAPTER  ONE

 

The Early Years – 1962

 

 

 

The small propeller plane, resting lazily on the tarmac in the warm Mississippi sunshine, beckoned to my daughter and me.  Its face seemed to mirror the turmoil surging inside of me.  I glanced down at the chubby one-year-old grasping my hand, and welcomed the sharp contrast between her hand clasp, and the deep trust in her eyes.  As long as she was holding on, Meta was unaffected by the strange surroundings, because Mommy was there, keeping her safe.  I, however, was not so sure of the steps we were about to take.  The ladder, protruding out of the belly of the plane, guided us to seats that had belts hanging out of them.

 

After several minutes of trying to close the belts around us, I thought, “If this is not right, I don’t know what else to do.  But what if it is not right, and when we get in the air, we fall out of these seats.”   That was frightening!  Sensing the presence of someone close by, I raised my head, and stared into the face of an airline stewardess.  With my voice trembling, I asked, “Is this fastened correctly?”

 

She smiled, yanked on the belts a couple of times, and said, “Yes.  Is this your first flight?”  I nodded.

. “Where are you going?”

 

“Germany.”

 

“That’s a long way.  You will get lots of experience in flying by the time you get there.”   We were about to find that out.

 

 

After flying into New York, I was told that we would be transported to the next point of departure, by helicopter.  I thought that this was too much changing for a first-time flyer, but kept my thoughts to myself.  Any way, what could I do?  When we reached the entry level for helicopter boarding, a young man asked me how much I weighed, “without clothes.”   I was horrified!  I told him in no uncertain terms that was none of his business.

 

He chuckled and remarked, “We just need to know… so that we can estimate if adding you and your daughter will be too much weight for the helicopter.”

 

“Well,” I thought, “Why didn’t he say that in the first place?”  I gave him a satisfactory number I suppose, because he let us board the plane.

 

 

The flight was long – too long, and after several hours of being strapped into her seat, Meta became restless, and started to fret. Passengers talked with her, made her laugh, and remarked, “What a beautiful little girl.”  She also became the center of attention for the flight attendants.

 

We had a lay-over in Amsterdam, and while we were waiting for the next flight, several people smiled at her, patted her bonnet, and spoke words that I did not understand.  Since they were smiling, I assumed they were pleased about something.  Finally, after two days, we arrived in Germany.  David, a happy and relieved husband, met us at the airport, and whisked us away to our new home.

 

The dim lights on our small French car, as we pulled into the driveway, could not hide the stately building that loomed in front of us.  It was easy to detect the love and care that had gone into making it home.  Even though its color faded into the darkness, I was still able to grasp the quietness it portrayed.  Large windows beckoned entrance.  I heard David say, “Well, this home.”

 

Germany was cold, damp, and different from any area that I had ever seen.  The architecture was very old and quaint.  Many houses sat on top of mini-barns; with cows and horses below.  Even though I had grown up on a farm, I found it unsettling to see someone living directly over cattle.  Fortunately, David had rented an apartment which had only people living below us.

 

Military housing procedures, dictated that housing should be provided by the Army, but, because there was a ban on dependent travel, we were unable to get it. A ban on dependent travel meant that the Army did not invite wives to join their husbands at a particular location, did not pay for the trip, nor, supply housing once the spouse and children arrived.  Housing was denied, until the ban lifted.  We were, however, able to use all other military facilities: post-exchange (PX), commissary for food, hospitals, dentist offices, and theaters.

 

 

The town in which we lived, (I cannot remember the name), was located approximately twenty-five miles from Stuttgart, Germany.  To my knowledge, we were the only Americans living there.  The apartment was the upper unit of a proud couple called Frau and Herr Lang.  They had three daughters, Hilda, Heidi, and Inge, who would later guide me through the intricacies of learning the German language.  We arrived at the apartment late at night, and did not see anyone.  I was extremely happy to walk on the ground again, and Meta was happy to see her Dad.  Our apartment had three rooms – a tiny kitchen, sitting room, bath, and a very cold bedroom.  I was astonished to learn that there would never be any heat in the bedroom, because having cold bedrooms, was part of the German culture.  Fortunately, Meta slept in flannel pajamas, and a flannel blanket-suit, over them.  We knew she would keep warm.

 

 

Stuttgart is the capital of Baden –Wurttemburg, and is located in Southwest Germany.  It was severely damaged by several air raids, during the Second World War, but, was quickly restored.  Because it is situated between forests and vineyards, it is known as the greenest city in Germany.  Today, it is a city of world class automobile companies, and state-of-the-art science and research companies.  Because of the sloping, hilly, green countryside, it became our favorite location for Sunday afternoon outings.

 

On the second day, I bundled up Meta, and took a walk through the neighborhood.  Windows from the houses went up, doors flung open, and prolonged stares greeted us.  There was much attention!  I wondered what all the fuss was about.  When we returned home, David explained that we were probably the first African-Americans that most of the neighborhood folks had seen.  So, everybody wanted to get a good look!  This proved to be true.

 

Since I only knew how to say “Thank you” in German, I decided that I had better learn a few more words if I were going to communicate with our new-found family.  After studying and practicing with David, I felt that I was ready to enter the community.

Hilda and Heidi were my first prospects.  Surprisingly, when I spoke, I heard only laughter. Finally, Frau Lang suggested that the girls coach me in German pronunciation, because no one knew what I was trying to say—and I really sounded funny.

 

 

 

 

Many weeks were spent with the girls drilling and correcting me, and afterward, when I spoke, I received smiles of approval.  Months later, I studied German at the University of Maryland, Extension College—on the military base.  My teacher was a German man, who spoke five languages.  All of my classmates were Americans.  Listening to them, I began to understand why Heidi and Hilde thought that I sounded “funny.”   Hearing German spoken with a southern or eastern accent, even drew hidden chuckles from me.   I was the only one in the class who spoke German without an American accent.  The girls had done a superb job, even my teacher said so.

 

Meta was adored by the German community.  Inge, the six-year-old, enjoyed playing with her after she returned from school, and Heidi and Hilda would show her off in motherly fashion, in the neighborhood.  We were embraced by the community, and the Lang family became surrogate parents.

 

One day, Inge stopped by our apartment, pointed to Meta, and gestured toward the apartment beneath us.  It took several minutes of gesturing, before I realized that she wanted to take Meta downstairs to her house.  I agreed.  Several hours later, when they had not returned, I became uneasy.  Just as I was about to make my way downstairs, the door to the hallway opened, and two giggly little girls appeared.  My daughter’s mouth was red, and as I approached her, the smell of beer filled the hallway.  I was astonished!  Meta smelled like a brewery.   Frau Lang had given my one-year-old beer!  Fortunately, David had come home from work, because I was about to make my way downstairs, and have “some words” with the Langs.  David convinced me that we would talk to them…another time.  After I calmed down, I remembered the words that Frau Lang had spoken on one of our visits downstairs.  She said, “Wasser ist fur washen, bier ist fur trinken.”  Translation: Water is for washing, beer is for drinking.

 

“Well,” I told David, “Water maybe for washing for them, but it is for drinking for us.”

On our next visit, David explained to the Langs that most Americans do not give babies beer to drink.  We never had the problem again.

 

Washing clothes in my new German home, reminded me of my childhood days, before Dad purchased a washer.  Clothes were placed in a three-foot, heavy, metal pot, filled with water.  A burner underneath, was lit with a match.  Large paddles were used to stroke and turn the clothes until they were snowy white.  Once they were clean, small bundles were placed in an electric canister-type container, which removed the water from them by spinning at a rapid speed.  The clothes were then transported in a basket, to clotheslines outside; where they blew in the wind until dry.  Neighborhood wives marveled at their cleanliness, as they passed by.  The entire process began early in the morning and lasted most of the day.  Meta enjoyed running under the clothes as they were sailing in the wind.  I enjoyed seeing the process end.

 

Living in a German community, presented many challenges, but, the rewards far out-weighed the regrets. However, one custom that I found difficult to adjust to, was, seeing a German housewife return from grocery-shopping, with a loaf of bread under her arm.  And, the loaf of bread had no wrapper on it!  That picture would always pop into my mind, when I was about to “break bread” with the Langs.  With the health-conscious world that we live in today, I am sure that custom has been eliminated.

 

After approximately one year, the ban on dependent travel was lifted, and we were able to move into Government Housing.  Even though I was eager to live among Americans, I was saddened at the prospect of losing so many wonderful friends.   However, Herr and Frau Lang assured us, that our established friendship would continue.

 

In comparison to my German apartment, government housing offered many amenities:  a private bedroom for Meta, a very large bedroom with a built-in vanity for David and me, huge kitchen, formal dining room, and spacious living room.  I loved our new quarters.

 

Numerous large buildings dotted the military landscape of our new quarters.  Looking at them, one could surmise that the architect went to great lengths to cram as many units as possible in the allotted space.  Each building consisted of two to three floors, with neighboring apartments facing each other, but, separated by a wide staircase.  We scarcely heard our neighbors on the opposite side. Grassy areas surrounded the buildings; and a large playground, reached-out to  “little ones” when they went out to play.  Meta loved the playground.

 

A few months after we moved into government housing, David was given six months of temporary duty (TDY) in Turkey.  Meta and I were left alone in Germany.  By that time, I had made new friends, and did not feel so alone.  Patsy, a French woman, who lived in the quarters above us, took us under her wing.  Since I was unable to drive, I depended on her and her husband to transport me to the PX, commissary, and other places of necessity.

 

Patsy adored Meta, and brought her many gifts.  Often, she asked if Meta could spend time with her in her apartment, but my answer was usually the same, “No!”  I had grown up in a family, where Mom was reluctant to let any of her fourteen children spend time away from home, so, I followed the same pattern.  The months flew by, and very soon, David was home again.

 

After David returned to Germany, life became routine.  Meta found a friend, who lived in our building, named Peggy.  They spent many days riding tricycles up and down the pavement in front of the building, and the adjoining building.  Meta enjoyed having a playmate, and each day, eagerly awaited the time to go outside and play with her.  Three weeks after David returned, I discovered that Meta would have a little brother or sister.  After several months, we shared the news with her, and she was excited about having someone in her house to play with.  Nine months and three weeks after David Sr. returned to Germany, David Jr. was born.  The pregnancy was a very difficult one. Three weeks into it, I was unable to keep food down, and felt nauseated until the baby arrived.   It was then, that I decided that two children would be just fine

 

 

 

David landed a new job as manager of a non-commissioned officer’s club.  This position afforded more responsibility, prestige, and a greater opportunity for promotion to a higher rank, in the Army.  He was recommended for the position by someone he respected and admired, and we were delighted that he was chosen.   Even though he made extra money, Meta and I scarcely saw him.  For the first time, we were able to use money for things other than what we needed, and started a small savings account.  Coming from a family of fourteen brothers and sisters, who never had anything extra, I was elated.  I thought to myself, “I have begun to create my wealth.”

 

The new baby, an active three-year-old, and household chores, kept me very busy.  After getting the quarters sparkling clean, I would dress Meta and David in cute outfits, and sit outside with other military wives.  I think each mother worked very hard to make sure her child was not out-dressed by other kids.  That seemed to be our greatest objective at the time: dressing our kids, sitting outside, chatting about neighborhood gossip, and getting dinner ready for hungry husbands—not exactly the life I had imagined when I was in college.

 

One day, I dressed Meta, and sent her outside to play with other children in the yard.  I heard a ruckus, and went to the window to investigate.   Unknown to me, the day before, she had been involved in a fight with a two-year-old boy, who lived on the far side of the building—and    had gotten the better of him.  So, his eight-and ten-year-old sisters, were bent on getting revenge.  When I heard Meta scream, I yelled out of the window for them to leave her alone.  The mother came over, and invited me outside, for a fist fight.  I smiled, and remarked that I was not coming outside, because I was not dressed for outside, and that she should make sure “her daughters did not bother my daughter again.”  She indicated that I was afraid to come outside.  Later, after I had put on street clothes, I saw her hanging clothes on the lines outside, and approached her. I told her that it was one thing for a two-and three-year-old to fight, but quite another, for an eight- and ten-year-old to fight a three-year-old, and that had better not happen again.  I was still angry, but spoke in a calm, yet deliberate manner.  It was easy to detect that I was not asking for co-operation, I was demanding it.  Words were exchanged, racial epithets hurled at me, as she hurried to the entrance of her side of the building.  I caught up to her in the hallway.  It was as though I had become someone else.  I was livid!  When I was pulled off of her, by someone from another building, my knuckles were bloody.  It was an ugly scene!  Of course, she charged me with assault and battery.  However, an investigation by the military police revealed that I had been provoked, and the case was dismissed.  My husband, however, was reprimanded by his commanding officer, and told that I would be sent back to the States, if he could not “keep me in line.”

 

After the fighting episode, I decided that I needed something else to do, other than being a housewife and mother, so I began to vocalize daily, (vocal music had been my major in college) learn new songs, and polish old ones.  It was agreed by David and me, that I would resume my college education, as soon as I returned to the States.

 

Even though David was very busy, we found time to invite the German family to our home.  They reveled in the spaciousness of the quarters, the electric washer (which we gave to them when we left for America) and how American families lived.  David and I prepared American dishes that they seemed to enjoy immensely.  Later, when we traveled to Paris on vacation, the Lang family kept Meta and Baby David for us.  Meta was glad to spend time with Inge again.

 

The Paris vacation has a special place in my heart.  Having been stationed in a city just outside of Paris several years earlier, David knew all of the historical places in Paris to visit, and how to travel around the city, by subway.  He was a super tour guide!  Our first stop was the Lourve Museum, located in central Paris.  The Lourve was built in the 12th century, and houses one of the most stunning selections of artwork in the world.  It is massive!  David had a distinct purpose in mind, when he took me there—to see the Mona Lisa.  My first reaction was, “It is small!”  I had envisioned a gigantic painting!  The size of the painting became insignificant, as I stared at the face of Mona Lisa.  She was simply breath-taking!  I watched her eyes travel with me, as I moved from side to side.  After staring at the painting for some time, I felt David’s hand on my arm, moving me along.

 

Many restaurants, shops, and buildings later, I found myself staring at the Eiffel Tower.  The Eiffel Tower is an iron tower, built on the Champ de Mars, beside the Seine River.  It is a famous landmark in Paris, and is a premier tourist destination.  David told me, that we could not leave Paris, unless I not only saw it, but had to ride to the top of it.   However, staring at the top of it from the ground, I was comfortable with, just looking at it.  David assured me that I would enjoy the ride, and would not find a better view of Paris, than the Tower.  Reluctantly, I followed him.  Traveling to the top, was a bit unsettling, but, once we were there, I was astounded by the view of Paris.  David was correct in assessing the view of the city; it was a sight to behold!

 

 You may also purchase The Unfolding of a Rose by Clicking Here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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