I don’t think I will get much disagreement when I pull this “Big Mama” rule out of her Play-book.
On the back porch, my grandmother, Lucille “Big Mama” Allen filled her three sons and three daughters, 16 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren, 38 great-great-grandchildren, seven great great-great grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews and bonus family members with simple, Bible-based logic for us to use all throughout our lives.
She would always say very proudly with her hands on her hips stance, “Honey, you got to give people their roses while they can hold them and smell them…. Amen.”
She left legacies that became part of life lessons. She taught me how to seek knowledge, recognize support and express gratitude. Her most important
request from her “Roses” advice was to publicly and personally recognize the service and support others gave you. She mandated that we give roses publicly. She would close with Jeremiah 29:11 in her final word.
Today, I can say job well done for another mom of mine, Mary Simpson McFall. You will then know how God sends you what you ask for (Jeremiah 29:11) if you ask.
When I entered college, I was scared but bold and SMU was a new frontier where I met Mary McFall. She was the woman who rescued me and adopted me. She was the Assistant Dean of Students and the Director of Multicultural Affairs at SMU before there was DEI. It is through her that I discovered my ties to Greatness and the plans God had for me. Mary McFall introduced me to the teachings and lessons that became permanent imprints of her legacy for all who met her.
On a call from Upward Bound director, Thomas Edwards, Mary welcomed me into her office and her world. She “poured” into me knowledge that would become my gifts. She introduced me to “new friends’ Maya, Nikki G, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Kwame Ture, Gil Scott, Miles, Satchmo. She supported my sojourn through my alma mater’s biased roadmap. She introduced me a history that looked like me.
Momma Mary had me embrace great Black men, she taught me how to know my place and use it! Just because of Mother Mary-I grew, I accomplished, I evolved. She taught me how to be like Empire’s Cookie Lyons and to “get what’s mine!” Her gift to me allowed me to bring to the campus Dick Gregory, Don L. Lee, Nikki Giovanni, and so many others. Her uplift of me allowed me to bring great minds to SMU in my college years.
I recall the day we sat at a restaurant with Kwame (he was Stokely then), and her, Kwame and I just talked about resistance, survival and the fact that Miriam (Makeba) would not let him eat red meat. He said to Mother Mary, “thanks Mary for the ‘Roses” and for Terry, he is a good brother, he is young and hungry for truth.”
Mary’s adoption allowed me to give Roses daily. I sat with Jon Henrik Clarke at St. Philips, talked with Ivan Van Sertima, gave praises to Claude Anderson, and broke bread with the intensely deep Amos Wilson in the Dallas-based MA’AT thinktank. Her gift allowed me to chat with Coretta, and exchange ideas with MLK, III on a plane ride. She placed knowledge in my hands that restored my ancestral memory. She helped me find my stolen legacies. With Mother Mary, I learned – God the protector, Jesus the warrior, Swahili, Xhosa, Yoruba, Corinthians, jimbe, Pamoja, intercession, faith, Kemitic and Afrikan.
Yet, the greatest gift she gave me was calling me her “bonus son.” She made me family, she gave me Brick and Jamila and all my other nieces and nephews. I have been by her side so many times for years, celebrating her gift ; being her “bonus” son.
A few days ago, Mother Mary transitioned! God said, “Join me Mary – your feet are paid for” God said, “Job well done!” God opened the gates of heaven and when he did, a Saint walked through! Amen! Rise in power, Mary! Rise in Peace, Mother! Rise in Perfection, Mom.
Terry Allen is an award-winning media professional, journalist, and entrepreneur. He is also the founder of City Men Cook and 1016 Media. Reach him at email@example.com