My brothers and I had the joy and pleasure of growing up with our maternal grandmother. Like most kids we quizzed granny about what our mother was like as a child. Granny respond her Monica was a perfect child. Perfect?!? No matter how much we prodded, teased or joked granny stood by her perfect daughter. I always wondered how could my mother have been a perfect child?
As I reflect on her life the question of mom’s perfection dances through my mind again. She had a way about her that made people around her feel important and loved. See her smile was magnetic. Hearing her laugh, mom had a great laugh, filled me happiness. Her personality radiated fun and warmth.
Mommy’s love and support opened so many doors for me and my brothers. Not only did she encourage me to be my best, but she also encouraged me to encourage my friends too. Mom pushed me to see a larger world beyond what was being taught in school. From food to fetes to family she made celebrating our Trinidadian culture a big part of my life.
Everyday with my mom was a learning experience. She taught me the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship. See democracy existed outside her doors. In our house we lived under a dictatorship, she was the dictator and I had no say in how things were run. Once she even declared herself the Ayatollah. Imagine young Omar trying to figure out what in the world an Ayatollah is. So see I learned about geopolitics from her too. That’s how she, with assists from my dad, grandmother and our extended family, kept three occasionally unruly boys in line.
I call her my first love because she was the first person I remember wanting to be around all the time. I survived many a shopping mission so I could spend time with her and mom was a world class shopper. Any crazy story, and there are many, you hear about shopping with her is true. Shopping trips with her were all day missions that left her energized and me exhausted but happy about the time we spent together.
I miss sitting with her and talking about sports, politics, or really anything and everything. I miss calling her to ask her to watch my kids and talking about everything except what I called her about. Sometimes I’d have to call her back just to ask what I was supposed to initially ask. I miss our shared love of graduations, especially our beloved Howard University graduations. We’d always call each to share our thoughts about the ceremony, the speakers and students. I miss how she made birthday and holidays special events. We didn’t have big birthday parties. We celebrated every holiday together. It was always the six of us with mom at the center keeping us all together.
What I miss most is how she almost always maintained her calm nature. No matter what chaos the world brought to her door she never blinked. Even as she stared down Parkinson’s and pancreatic cancer she never let it get her too upset. She just kept smiling her beautiful smile and fighting.
Yep, granny was right. Her daughter was perfect.
I read a slightly different version of this at my mother’s funeral in March 2019