I was born in Harlem in New York. The southern girl who was my Mom was shipped off there to live with her Dad to have me. The grandmother who raised her, who had tried to have me aborted three times, was the one who came to get me when I was two years old and who raised me. There was a lot of bitterness and anger in that home because my grandmother had experienced several women in our family who had been pregnant and unmarried. She was very bitter about that and spewed that out on me just about every day.
This grandmother had such high hopes and dreams for at least one of the girls to make it out of that pattern of life and single motherhood, so when my mother told her that she was pregnant, she took her to what we would call now a ‘backwoods abortionist.” She attempted one time, and my mom said that she was supposed to just wait and see if she would spontaneously abort from whatever this lady did. So when that didn’t happen in a certain period of time, she took her back again. When that happened, my mother started bleeding and got really sick, and the lady told my grandmother, “I’m not going to touch her anymore because we may lose not only the baby, but we may lose her mom, too.” So after that, when that didn’t work, my grandmother started giving my mother what, the term is Hot Totties, which is supposed to be a mixture of alcohol and very potent to spontaneously abort. That didn’t happen.
So my mother said that when she had me, she kept looking at fingers and toes and trying to see how I really would handle all of that. I was a perfectly healthy baby, a big baby. She was very glad to know that everything had turned out alright. So I am thinking that God had a plan for me. He kept me even in the womb from harm and danger. His heart toward me was very evident as Psalm 139 says, “I knitted you, and I formed you in your mother’s womb and before you even knew a day, I knew you.”
My grandmother was…all I can remember was bitterness. We don’t know a whole lot about where she came from. I do know that she was born to a single mother, as well and her grandmother raised her. The grandmother that raised her had lived on forty acres and a mule that they gave the slaves in Pensacola, Florida, and my grandmother inherited that land when her grandmother died. The story was told (and there are some factual things) that Standard Oil was drilling one day on that land, and they found oil. My grandmother was a very shrewd business woman, and so she leased the land to them and negotiated royalties. That’s how she was able to have a bit of control over the family with her money. So everybody was beholden to her because of that. We never spoke about the bitterness. You never challenged her on anything, because that may cut off your finances if you had that issue with her.
I am college educated. I went to Howard University in Washington D.C., and I have a degree in Physical Therapy. She was still very bitter about that and did not celebrate with me a whole lot because I was one that, I think, I was the only one that rebelled in that matter and said, “You will not control me. I will do what I feel like I am led to do.” Even before I was a Christian, I knew that I would not stay in Birmingham and go to school. I wanted to do physical therapy, and it wasn’t offered there, and there’s a direction I am going, and I won’t allow you to control it. There’s money out there for me, and I think I know how to get it, so I did.