I lost my mother 5 years ago. I was 16 years old at the time and my brother was 19. Within the 16 years I was able to be with my mom, she taught me many things. And many of those life lessons I learned indirectly.
My mother grew up in Port Au Prince, Haiti, and she and her siblings had a tough life. She often went to bed hungry. She stopped going to school around middle school because her parents couldn’t afford it anymore. She lost her father in her early teenage years. She later lost her mother after turning 18 years old to an unidentified illness because they couldn’t afford healthcare. After losing their mother, she and her siblings struggled like never before.
What I admire about my mother is despite everything that she went through, amidst all the poverty she endured my mother had many riches of character. This amazing woman taught me self respect. Countless nights she went to bed hungry and when people would suggest she sell her body for a plate of food she casted those ideas out. She knew that kind of life would only lead to unwanted pregnancy that would only make matters worse. So she continued trying to sell anything she could and she had a rich faith in God. She and her sister owned one dress each that was suitable for church. They both burrowed each other’s dresses, switching off every other week. This never hindered her or made her too embarrassed to go back to church. No. My mom conducted the choir, read the bible to the congregation, ran praying sessions and traveled all over Haiti confessing the word of God all in the same two dresses she had.
I come from strength, self respect, dignity, and faith. Poverty simply made all those characteristics stronger. My mother had a richness that was unquantifiable and one that you couldn’t put in a bank account, or a CD or use to become a shareholder. It’s one thing to be wealthy. But I honestly believe that all of us have at least one thing within us that can allow you to call yourself rich. I don’t ever want to get to a point where I’m more worried about stacks of money than I am about my stacks of character. Because sometimes you can use your stacks of character in a way that you can’t use your stacks of money.
For years my mother struggled financially but her faith in God prevailed. A woman noticed this and gave her a job working in a clinic she ran. With this job she was able to provide not only for herself but for her family as well. She was blessed so much that she built her own house that she left to my brother and I. She even raised 6 nieces and adopted and took care of a young girl for a year with that job. I am so blessed for having this amazing example. She taught me the importance of self respect and integrity when she told me this story. I always keep it in the back of my mind whenever the idea of doing something that I know I have no business doing pops up in my head. Defining who I am is just that important to me.