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“She’s a cryer. She’s real emotional.”

That’s what my father said. His statements didn’t have any disparaging intent. He was just trying to say that she “wears her heart on her sleeve.” It’s not a bad thing, and he wasn’t speaking on it as such.

Crying. People have always used the cliché “you’re crying for nothing.” Crying is NEVER for nothing. Crying can be an emotional response to fear, happiness, pain, tumult, etc.; but it surely doesn’t come from nothing.

Crying always has a provocateur.

**********

She chastised me for stealing, and I ran next door to the insurance company, embarrassing her in front of a company full of white professionals like she was an abusive mother.

She had to take me back to school MULTIPLE TIMES because of disciplinary infractions and hookying from school.

I lay drunk and passed out on my friend’s porch and she tried to awaken me.

I got my jaw broke after getting ganged up on out in the streets.

The day I got locked up, some officers brought me out of her basement with handcuffs on, while other officers had their guns trained on her and my sisters.

The first day after I got locked up, she visited me in jail—her first time ever in a prison.

I got beat down by the guards in Holmesburg Prison, and she visited me and saw what looked like the Elephant Man behind the plexiglass.

A box from the State Correctional Institution Graterford was delivered to her house with the set of “street clothes” that she had last seen me in, giving her the scary impression that her son had passed on and the State was sending her my effects.

She came to visit me one morning, earlier than usual, and saw a civilian woman tell a guard, “I’m not here to visit. I’m coming to pick up my son.” Then, as she descended the visiting room stairs to see me, she saw about 8 men appear in the lobby with their packed boxes, ready to go home.

One day on a visit, she wondered aloud, “Where did I go wrong with you?” blaming herself for my transgressions.

​She cried in response to each one of these incidents. I don’t know what the buoying emotion was, but I can gather that none of these incidents incited glee or happiness.

In rebuttal to these negative memories, someone once asked me, “Well, how many times have you made her proud? Did you think of that?”

To me, that doesn’t matter. ‘Cause I NEVER, EVER wanted to make my mother cry! How could I make her wonder “Where did I go wrong with you?”

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