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Kathy Henry: Memories of Pickin Greens With My Momma on Sundays

By Kathy Henry

Although you have been gone out of my life for almost six years, you are never far away from my thoughts. Although I weep when I think about you, I have decided to concentrate on my wonderful memories of being a little girl who was so spoiled and pampered that I did not realize how poor our family really was until I got older. I never did without and I will always honor you for being the type of mother who made things happen against great odds.

My fondest memory of us is pickin’ greens with you on Sundays. Cooking a large Sunday dinner for your family was a tradition you brought with you from Mississippi and you used to throw down!! On Sundays, you and I would go to the local corner grocery store and you would choose your items carefully. More often than not, chicken would be the meat dish because it was delicious and cheap. For greens, you would get the salt pork or the ham hocks, to season then. I used to beg you to make Kraft Macaroni & Cheese just so I could lick the can.

Your favorite greens were a combination of mustards and turnips with turnip bottoms thrown in for added flavor. I can clearly see myself standing next to you in the kitchen helping you pick the greens while you told me stories of haunts and skeletons. I used to play with the leftover stems, pretending that I was cooking Sunday dinner for my Barbies and, depending on your mood, you would either make hot water corn bread, fried on the stove, or you would bake the corn bread in the oven. I used to love when you made crackling bread smothered in butter.

WGN Channel 9’s Sunday Matinee would be in the background and the house smelled of deliciously fried chicken, greens, and love. Sometimes relatives and friends would drop by and discuss everything from politics to relationships. You and Cousin Cleo thought ya’ll was slick, spelling out words to try to keep me from understanding ya’ll conversations. I used to memorize the letters and went into the next room to write them down. I was always a smart one.

I am so happy to have these memories of you to sustain me on these cold dreary nights when life can look so bleak. When I am filled with despair about my job situation, I think about you, the strongest woman I have ever known. I know that my time is coming. You came up here from Berclair, Mississippi, a town so small I can barely find information about it on the Internet, to Chicago, as a teenage girl to attend George Washington Carver High School in 1948 and you made a life for yourself in a city where only the strong survive. You were a sharecropper’s daughter who picked cotton as a little girl younger than my eleven-year-old daughter and I am so proud that your blood flows in my veins.

Well, Ma I have to say goodbye for now but not forever. As long as I have my memories, I have you. Last year in June, your Nu-Nu graduated from college and the year before, Anthony graduated from high school! Your grand-babies are doing fabulous and it is all thanks to you. Because I was a baby having babies, without your assistance,  we would have been lost and I love and honor you for that. Without you, there would be no Kathy, Noelle, Anthony or India and although we had our differences, I am proud to be your daughter.

Love Always,
Your Daughter Kathy

About Kathy Henry

I am a woman. I am an African-American. Belonging to two minorities has shaped my viewpoint on life in more ways than I can count. It is not easy being a woman in a inherently sexist society. Add skin color to the equation and you have me. This is my world and my viewpoint. You do not have to agree with my thoughts but in the end, you will respect me.

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