Today, she would have been 72. I am sharing some prose I wrote last year in celebration of her life.
Today, Areather (nee’ Armour) Courtenay would have been 71 years old today. I write a lot about my Mom and losing my Mom at age 21 on my blog and in cathartic posts on this platform. It still haunts me, but the nuances of our relationship, then the loss of her in such a pivotal time in my life profoundly shaped who I am. … As a woman, as a Mother and as a friend.
If she was alive, my life would be very different. I’d probably be in Chicago, still. We were tethered to a point and she never let me stray too far away.
I was a complex child she would say. She was right, I am my Father’s child.
I realized we were always at odds because she and I were alike in a lot of ways as well. I have a very strong will like her. She taught me that if something is not right, say something. She taught me that if you try and please people you will go crazy, so always invest in what you think about yourself because that’s all that matters.
I learned that being a single, divorced Black woman is f’ing hard to the point it can erode your humanity if you don’t have a good support system. Unfortunately I was doomed to repeat this cycle in adulthood, but at least I got some stellar friends.
I think the greatest lesson she taught me was how to be kind to people when they are in need. Sometimes people just want you to listen, a hug, a meal or they need you to share their tears.
My kind, loving nature is actually from her. I am not as sweet as her, but I am getting there in my old age.
I see a lot of my Mother in my daughter and I love it.
Two weeks before her death and 6 months into the reconcilation of our relationship, on my 21st birthday she said these words to me … And I cry every time I think about this because I had longed for her approval and love all my life…
“You have turned out to be a wonderful woman. You turned out much better than I thought you would ever become. My work is done, Erica.”
You have no idea how those words healed the deep cracks in my young soul, at that time.
So everyday, I try and get up and be a better woman. I try and be some semblance of the young woman she talked to in the car that day. I hope she looks down from heaven and is proud of me. That’s all I hope for at this point.
Lastly, if your Mother is still alive, cherish her, love her, engage her. If she doesn’t pour into you and your relationship is rocky, still pray for her. God moves mountains and He moves hearts.
Happy Birthday Mama! Rest in Peace. 💖