Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Mother Father Issue

This picture of my buds, Cheryl and Jerry Fells will also be among my most amazing treasures. We captured a moment in time not realizing what a golden memory this photo would be.We had the wonderful opportunity to take a picture with our moms and every Mothers Day I look at this photo and remember.

I realize that it has taken me a while to get this issue finished. I started it in May and just felt that it was necessary to take my time.

Mothers and fathers: something very cherished for us as Real Schoolers. Especially at this point in our lives. When I was growing up, I thought that my mother was invincible. Nothing would ever happen to her. She was so strong and fearless, organized, creative and loving. I never wanted to see the day when she began to fade away. Everything that she was became shrouded with the onset of dementia and time.

I would come to realize as I got older that everything I was she had given me and that every time I write a word, it’s  part of her. Every time I write music, it’s part of her. My organizational skills: all from her. What greater gifts could she have given me? For her to see so much in me and understand more of who I was capable of being than I could see myself in my youth was amazing…

I owe everything I am to my mother. Everything. And sometimes we wonder why mothers are so cherished. It is because for those who have mothers who carried us inside of their bodies, we were closest to her heartbeat…And that heartbeat resounds in all of us subliminally. And for those of us who had mothers who didn't carry us within, their heartbeat still resounded in her commitment to being the mother in our lives.

Being a mother is one of the most amazing life journeys ever. Looking back we wonder how our moms did all that they did for us. We didn't  always recognize all of their hurts and struggles. We couldn't comprehend all that made her who she was. 

Seeing my mother in the few years before she died, was the most heartbreaking of memories I will ever have. She stopped… She just stopped. She would sit and say nothing. She was only a shell of who she was. I can understand how she felt, most of her friends gone and people in her life gone…And as we continue on in our lives we, too are beginning to see the impact of loss.

My favorite memory was watching the movie Imitation of Life with her. It was the only time I saw my mother cry. She would cry, and say only one word, "Mama"...It was a mantra, a loss and a prayer for her. 

There is something about that film that pulls the starkest emotion out of you. And the way in which the story moves you it could break down the most stoic and hardened human soul.

My mother's parents

I believe that movie sparked something in my mother that put her in touch with her grief. Losing one mother is enough. But having lost two for her must have be unbearable. Her biological mother died in childbirth when she was 2 years old so I imagine what memories she had of her had faded with time. And sometime later she would have a stepmother who she would grow to call “mama”. My mother would always say that you only have one mother. I totally get what she meant.

My bio dad                                                 Mr. Johnson

I had the benefit of two dads in my life, both inextricably complementing the other in what they gave to my world.

My greatest memory of my dad was when I was very little, we used to sit on the back stairs of our house and look at the moon and talk. He would listen to me ramble on with my little squeaky voice. When I was 5 or 6 my parents divorced. I appreciate the time we had together and to have had the opportunity to have been the last one he talked to before he died many years later.

In 1964, when I was 8 years old my mother introduced me to Mr. Johnson. She called him "Jimmy" and he drove a 1963 powder blue Chrysler New Yorker. Every time I see an old New Yorker, I think of him.

Mr. Johnson was a gentleman who nurtured me like a dad through my formative years. I thought he was the smartest man I had ever met when I was a kid, and in my adulthood, he still remains on an intellectual pedestal. He was a chemist who worked at Howard University. I don’t think that there was anything that he couldn't do.

Mr. Johnson nurtured my thirst for technology and through him, the world became bigger than I could ever imagine. I had a little portable Smith-Corona typewriter and he taught me how to type. Learning that skill enlarged my world even more. Once I had gotten proficient in my typing, he brought home a used IBM Selectric that I now would guess was a cast-off from the school, but for me was my jewel.

I used that Selectric like it was my lifeline. It was for me the most fluid way for me to communicate my thoughts. 

By 7th grade I was writing science fiction short stories on it and working on what I thought would be the great American science fiction novel. 

One day Mr. Johnson brought over an old reel to reel tape machine. I say old because it was around the time the cassette machine had come on the scene shortly after I first met him. He played some tapes of a woman singing. It was my mother! This spurred my interest in recorded music. 

I loved sound and how good sound could sound. Mr. Johnson would take me to the stereo conventions and I would collect mounds of spec sheets and product information, bounding from one exhibit to the next. He gave and gave of his knowledge and he never had a doubt that I was incapable of anything because I was female. So when some guys say to me, “You know a lot about this technology for a female”, I owe it all to Mr. Johnson. 

I tried to find Mr. Johnson after I reached adulthood. He later left DC, moved to the south and I never got to talk with him again. I know he's gone now. So this platform in writing is my only way to connect with his soul and show my appreciation and love for what he gave me. 

He taught me everything he knew and I wish with all of my heart that he were still around so that I could thank him for the wonderful contributions he made to my life and my world. His soul is out there.

Mr. Johnson, I will always love and appreciate you for everything. You nurtured my interests and helped me turn them into realities. Thanks to you, I was able to type 80 wpm. Just from the simple typing lesson you gave me so many years ago!

In this issue, I am pleased to share dedications from Real Schoolers about with their mom and dad memories. When I see their pictures, all of the moms and dads looked like movie stars. Such grace and dignity. Enjoy.

Russell Williams
Emmy and Oscar Winner
"She steered me clear of the shallow waters and the rocky


Bubba Boudreaux
"Oh, my dad so did support me in my music. He was proud of me. That I was playing with Percy Sledge. My parents loved his music. My dad gave me life. Percy gave me soul. Love 'em both!"

Ray Hatch
"She's the BOMB!"

Kim Sterling Nalle
Manager, Clinical Practice Guidelines at Research Dept at the Paralyzed Veterans of America

Yes. My Mom was my best friend, confidant, and ride-or-die. She always gave it to me straight with no chaser when I needed it. Her 4'9" frame was petite but she had a larger than life spirit and everyone she encountered made her their immediate friend. I miss her dearly, but my sweet memories of her will live with me always.

Michael Adams

Business Administration

My Mother, oh how I miss you, Love You forever.....


Wornell Jones
Musician- Bass
"Consumed Books, Music, and Cinema. My inspiration!"


Jvonshay Lucci
CEO of M.J Promotions Inc/ producer of the National Face of

Jvonshay/Glamour Diva

Her mother's spirit gave her the drive she needed for a successful career in the modeling arena. Jvonshay Lucci says of her mom:

"My mother was  my best  friend.  I felt my world  crumble  in front of my eyes. I mustered up all I had and left to LA. .It truly was hard for me but I felt  my mother's arms around me. I was smiling on the outside and was struggling on the inside."

When Ms. Lucci arrived in LA, she literally hit the ground running and opened her first Beverly Hills Agency, Spectrum Talent.

"I felt my mother guiding me, helping with her loving hand. Where ever she went she inspired others and give them hope." 

Teaming up with her siblings, Jenesis, Jermaine and Justyn, they started two top model competitions:  
National Face of Jvonshay  and National Face Of Glamour

Jvonshay carries the energy that her mother inspired in her, by lending a caring, loving hand and mothering spirit to the many young women she promotes and mentors through her competitions.

Jvonshay's staff, director  Angela  Usher, her Personal National Assistant Erica Teal and CEO Nadine Long Hudson and LNR PRODUCTIONS work hard to find some of the newest faces in the modeling industry.

"As a single  woman I have felt many times I just wanted to stop and give up. But I knew I was destined to spread love through encouragement," says Jvonshay.

2014  marks Ms. Lucci celebrating 19 years of producing top modeling competitions which gives over $8000 in  prizes and scholarships to young women throughout the United States. Chelsea Fields and Glee  star  Alex Newell are two of this year's celebrity judges. 

I look forward to the upcoming competition in Hollywood this Saturday,September 20. Stay tuned! 

Also to her credit, Jvonshay has also appeared in several movies  including "Scream Two and "Night at the Roxbury." Her roles in films led her to start another agency called M.J Promotions Inc. 

Throughout all of her growth, she says, "I felt my mother guiding me, helping with her loving hand. Where ever she went she inspired others and give them hope. I celebrate mothers because without mine I couldn't do what I am doing today: spreading Love."


She was born Mary Loretta Aiken Brevard, North Carolina, on March 19, 1894. Some have documented her birth year as 1897.   Jackie “Moms” Mabley was a comedic trailblazer, was was the first female stand-up comedienne and billed as the funniest woman in the world. 

By the time she hit visual media in the 60s on a regular basis many of us didn't realize how long Moms had been in the game. In the 1920s she worked with the duo Butterbeans & Susie, and eventually became an attraction at the Cotton Club.

By the late 1930s, Moms became the first woman comedian to be featured at the Apollo and had appeared on that stage more than any other performer.

Her early  life was besieged with trauma and tragedy. But out of all of that, she persevered to become a national treasure.

She took on the name of a former boyfriend and started her career at 14 as Jackie Mabley. She would later become known as Moms from her stage persona as an older, outspoken grandma wearing old-fashioned print dresses and hats and in her wisdom of life experience- a mentoring, mothering spirit. 

Her stage presence of “everybody’s mom” was markedly different from her personal persona. As an audience, we need to be mindful of that difference with every performer. She was proud of who she was off the stage and came out at age 27 and continued to make her mark as a comedic genius. Her star still shines posthumously. Here is yet another pioneer in entertainment whose story needed to be told and gracefully acknowledged.

Ms. Goldberg’s presentation is worthy of many accolades. It is a prize piece and I was excited when I heard that she was going to produce “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley". She used the site Kickstarter in 2012 to get funding for the project and it worked out well with her receiving more than her budget goal as well as getting nominated for an Emmy.

What Moms gave to our society was the wisdom of the elders combined with the levity of comedy. She gained the ear of younger audiences and gave every bit of truth based on the character she portrayed.

I don’t think there is anyone out there from the real school who didn’t love Moms… It was great to watch the documentary produced by Whoopi Goldberg with my daughters and share a little history with them.

Moms was quick witted and knew how to broach any subject, no matter how controversial with any audience. Whether it was race, poverty, drunkenness or any other subject back in the day she helped us laugh at injustices.



An awesome film that shows a mother's love. This film is based on the true story of Philomena Lee played magnificently by Judi Dench. Philomena's  son was taken away when she was a teenage boarder of a Catholic convent. Former journalist Martin Sixsmith arranges a magazine assignment about her search for him. There is so much they discover in their journey in finding the child who by the time they find him has reached adulthood.


Being Sara Jane 
by Ray Hatch

I can remember all my relatives saying how horrible Sarah Jane was for being so hateful to her mother but she was so very well portrayed that her supposed hatefulness was born out of pain. She really did love her mother but she just didn't know how to deal with the misery of looking white and actually being black. It's always been a really big deal in the world of light-skinned people of color; dating WAY back into the times of slavery where the lighter-skinned got to work in the big house as opposed to the fields. It was and still is pretty monumental. (Google the "paper bag" test.) 

Susan Kohner as Sarah Jane in Imitation of Life; not so much a villain but a very confused and misguided young woman who made some very bad choices especially in the treatment of her own mother from feeling nothing but pity for herself. You always hurt the one you love: completely parallel to the way all my relatives felt when I first saw the '59 version very early in life. As I became older and learned about the true plight of "color-ism" within the world of people of color, I learned to see beyond what seemed like Sarah Jane just being terrible to her mother. 

She was in pain and there was absolutely no one to whom she could talk or share her feelings. Her mother just passed it off as something she'd have to get used to but having never been a person of color who looked white to the outside world as well of herself, she couldn't really understand beyond knowing that it was also something with which her husband also struggled. Sarah Jane had no one else who could possibly understand what she was going through in a world where in her perspective, people of color were considered second class citizens and that was indeed the stone cold truth.

The irony was however that the way she went about "passing" was not at all classy and she failed to realize that an education even in a "colored college" could have prepared her to basically be anything she wanted to be which would have kept her from dancing and singing in lowdown dives.

Exquisite and heartbreaking. I too was much more familiar with the '59 version long before I ever saw the original but as soon as I did, I was much more compelled by the story line of the original which followed the original book much more. The '59 version was a glossy Hollywood remake complete with beautiful stars and glorious costumes and sets but the original told the story the way (the way) it had been written. I love them both for totally different reasons.

From the original 1934 version Black actresses Louis Beavers and Freddi Washington
I adore both Juanita Moore (who wouldn't?) and Louise Beavers because let's face it, they are the meat of the story, but the '34 version makes both Bea and Delilah's situations equal parts of the story whereas the '59 version somewhat makes Annie's dilemma with Sarah Jane somewhat secondary. It was Delilah's pancake recipe that makes them rich and although she's only offered 20% of the royalties, it's still a pretty big deal for a woman of color to have her own empire in that time in our nation's history. It was very unusual for a Madame C. J. Walker-type to come about but not at all impossible. She was indeed an unrealized entrepreneur. 

Susan Kohner and Juanita Moore were indeed the most compelling parts of the story of the later version and most certainly the part of the story with the most meat; and then of course there was Mahalia who snatched the tears and emotion out of your heart and face if only at the final moment just before Sarah Jane fought off big, burly policemen to get to her mother's casket.




So, what  happens when a toddler is abducted from her biological parents and raised her by her abductor? Finding Carter  is, in my opinion, MTV's best offering on the network to date. 

The show takes you through the myriad of emotions on both ends of this tale as the abducted child played brilliantly by English actress Kathryn Prescott finds the truth about her life,  when as  a teen she's returned to her biological family.  She has a bit of culture shock when she finds she has siblings: a brother, fraternal twin sister and parents. (Interesting trivia here. Prescott herself is a fraternal twin. Her twin is actress Megan Prescott).

What the show brilliantly highlights is the bond between a mother and child even after Carter discovers her  reality. While the show just finished its first season, You can find it on MTV On-Demand or the MTV app or Youtube.

Pilot Episode:


 Thank you for sharing the journey......

Kim Sterling Nalle's mom.

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