Momma’s teaching chair

Published 6:33 am Monday, May 13, 2013

Submitted by Dr. Taunya Queen-Melendez

“Hi mom, I’m home.” I bend down and kiss her cheek. She just sits and stares at me.

“I ‘m Taunya, your baby, I love you,” I say.

She continues to look at me for a few minutes, takes a deep sigh and looks away. She doesn’t talk to me much now, hardly ever, she isn’t able to call my name. A few months ago when she really needed me she used to at least call me Georgeanne, that was my sister-in law’s name, and that was okay because at least I heard her voice. Now my brothers and sisters and I experience the pain of watching as she forgets each of our eight names one by one. This is strange because I also remember when she could talk and talk and talk, especially when we were children.

In my momma’s bedroom she had a green slightly overstuffed chair with two sides that extended out around its top. A winged back chair with Queen Ann legs. She was very proud of her chair, and boy did she use it, but not for herself. I can hardly remember my mom sitting in that chair. However, we children were in it all of the time, one at a time of course. It was what I call now her teaching chair.

If my mom was in her room and she called your name, that sibling would look at the rest of us with that look of, “what did I do” and slowly begin the climb up the stairs. Once in the room, Mom would quietly say, “sit down Bob or Mike or Michelle,” whichever one of us it was would obediently sit down and wait. We knew what was coming, a talk that was going to go on and on and on. Sometimes she would talk as she cleaned and organized her room. Moving around, putting things away, dusting her dresser, but never losing her thought. She was determined to teach us the lesson she felt we needed to know at that time.

Then there were the times she would sit on the edge of her bed and face you as you sat in the chair. Those were the most serious ones as her eyes would seem to stare into your very soul as she talked. If you had anything to hide, it would definitely spill out onto your face for all to see.

We were sitting there thinking, “no mom, not the talk, couldn’t you just spank me and get it over with?” But no, on those days my mom just talked. She rarely asked for our input or any response, she just talked like her life depended on it and we listened. Or should I say mostly listened. Sometimes we actually dozed off to sleep, but that didn’t stop my mom as she would come over, give a nudge and say, “Did you hear me? This is important!” We would immediately come to attention and the talks would continue.

What did she talk about you ask? Oh man, all kinds of things. She could have had a blog, if they had them back then. She had packaged lessons because she had to be sure that all us received the same information. My mom had classics. My brothers and sisters later compared notes and found out that at one time or another we each had gotten the same talks. We would joke among ourselves as we gave the talks titles and numbers much like college courses. Although at the time we had never been to college we would say things like, “did you get the Evil associations, of the choose your friends wisely 100 talk?” Man we would laugh yes “LOL” out loud. “Yeah I got it, Fran, I thought it would never end.”

There were so many teachings, like “Shun the very appearance of evil” that one explained that some things may not be sin, but they just looked wrong. It could give people the wrong impression about who you really are. Not all of her teachings were based on the Bible, sometimes she would teach us about “Walking alone.” We learned that even when you find a time in your life that you have to walk alone, you keep walking. You can’t afford to sit down and give up. You have to keep walking. Another, one of my favorites, was “While there’s life there’s hope.” She made it clear that no matter how bad it may get, suicide is never the answer. One day can make all the difference, hold on and just see what God can do!

My mom used her teaching chair to put something in us to live by. She gave us something that when we would no longer be able to hear her voice we would still have inner strength and conviction, a knowledge of right and wrong. She gave us words that we, one day as adults, would ponder. These words found their way into our future, they gave us hope when we were alone and answers when we were in times of crisis.

There were so many years after we became adults that we would call her on the phone from various parts of the country. It was never too early or late to call. My mom could be reached at 3 am and she would immediately sit up in bed ready for a good conversation. As you might expect we could talk for hours. We needed her advice and comfort. Often she would say, “well let me stop and pray.” There was never a day when we thought my mom’s voice would be silenced. Nor a day when we would be able to look at her, hold her hand, but we wouldn’t be able hear her words of wisdom. But no, her voice was not silenced because of the teaching chair. Those chair talks still ring somewhere down in our spirit and we have become those dispensers of timeless wisdom passed down from one generation to the next.

“Mom”, I say, “Did you eat?” She gives me that quizzical look like, “girl you got to figure that one out on your own.” I get her a plate of food and begin encouraging her to eat.

Yes, it’s Alzheimer’s. My mother who could “talk up a storm” can no longer call my name. She rarely speaks any words to me, but I take comfort in the way she looks at me. Most of the time I see something ever so slight in her big brown beautiful eyes that she knows I am a person she loves. I look closer and I see that she also has a look of hope, hope that she will not be abandoned, and a hope that she will be taken care of and kept close, a hope that she will not be forgotten.

December 2011 my mom went home to be with the Lord, but as we anticipate Mother’s Day, I encourage each reader to honor the mother’s in their lives. Whether, it’s your mom, your grandmother, your god mother or the lady down the street, let’s recognize their gift of service. Let’s take the time in some way to let them know that they are not forgotten. Those moms may not move as fast or see as clearly. They may not be able to do for us as they once did. So now is the time when they need us the most, let’s not let them down.

Those moms may not move as fast or see as clearly. They may not be able to do for us as they once did. So now is the time when they need us the most, let’s not let them down.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Dr. Taunya Queen-Melendez is the owner of Rehoboth Educational Services and Rehoboth Counseling Services, Ahoskie