Margaret Alma Brown Williams

Margaret Alma Brown Williams…aka, Ma.

You take what you can get in the form of stories about your dearly departed mother. I have no personal memories of her on my own, because she passed away when I was 2 and a half. When I was going to school downtown, I passed the block we used to live on every single morning. 95W, right to the Red Line station. I would glance at the street and wish I could remember more than the tidbits of living in the house, and the playset daddy gave me the day of her funeral. I have bits and pieces, and believe me–it’s difficult.

My family has done a great thing by trying to share pictures and stories about my mother. I know a bit more about her as a woman in her late teens and adulthood, with promises of early years to come. I have one picture of her when she was 12, and I see myself 100% in that image. Through these stories and images, I see a lot of myself in the gorgeous, well-dressed woman who birthed me in August of ’85.

No one is perfect, but to hear stories about the impact she laid as a person, period, is wonderful. In the case of my Aunt Lyn, it was her loss that pushed her to go for what she wanted–my Uncle James.

It was a long story that was well worth the time it took. It started with my aunt and mother having tea cakes and conversation about the shortness of life, and why it’s important to go for what you want in the moment. “You never know how much time you have left.”

Then, it all sort of went downhill from that moment of foreshadowing. After a trip to the dentist (which had nothing to do with her death), my mom got sick that week. From then on, her prognosis wasn’t good and she passed away. Obviously it crushed my father, but it also really hurt my aunt. They were going to open a daycare center together. My mom also wanted to pursuit a career in the art world. And, obviously, she wanted to continue raising me and staying married to dad. Family was everything to her. She really clicked with the paternal side of mine, to the point where my grandfather gave her a key years before my dad proposed.

Well, anyway…

My aunt took those words to heart. There was a man she was interested in at the time–my uncle. This was years before he was ordained, years before my cousin was even thought of. He was James–manager of 4 McDonald’s in the Chicago area. Very popular with the ladies, handsome, had a lot going for himself. My aunt wasn’t sure at first, but she made up her mind once she realized how little time we actually have on this planet. She told me that she felt “called” to be with Uncle James. That’s deep. A “mission from God” in her own words. For all he’s been through, I can agree that the two needed each other. For she’s been through–her first marriage was a disaster–Uncle James turned everything around. They’ve had their rocky moments, but the love they have for one another that’s exhibited daily…it’s so beautiful. It’s all because my aunt was moved by my mother to take a chance on life.

I’d like to think that my mother inspired a lot of people. So many showed up to her funeral, packing the tiny chapel on the day of her life’s celebration. I hear the stories and aspire to be like her–helping, nurturing, inspiring. I…sometimes don’t make the cut, but there have been other times when even my own father says I have inspired him to change and feel good about life. When I converted to Buddhism, this was one of the things he said to me. Later, when he took stock of how I cared for my grandma, he said some more nice things about inspiration and admiration.

I often write (bitterly and sadly) about those darn exes in my life, but in my screwball imperfect ways, I really wanted to extend that loving, caring, and nurturing essence of my mother…even with them. I find myself doing this with friends old and new, sometimes failing but more than anything, just wanting to be some kind of small beacon of hope and movement-making in their lives. Not an end all be all type of magic healer, but I suppose just someone who genuinely cares. Through all my sarcasm and nonsense, there is a side of me that oozes with sweetness and care. It’ll rot your teeth.

Anyway, I love hearing stories about my mother. To find out what parts of her personality passed on to me. It’s wonderful to hear about her, and form memories of my own. Warm feelings. Good thoughts. To know that she went through some of the same crap I’m going through now, but she kept the faith–that’s inspirational in and of itself. I really do miss her. To be in the living world where she has laid impact–that’s the most beautiful thing in the entire world.




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