Lula, my sister was wise.
I cannot say how she got to be so or
if she was born that way or she grew to learn from her experiences.
It’s possible that she got wisdom from my Mother but honestly I cannot say because Mom died when I was about four years old.
My memories of my Mother are few but to me it seemed that everday Lula said something that kept our mother memory
But mostly Lu talked about Mom’s struggle to live describing her illness
and death as a combination of polysyciy kidney disease and heart failure.
She’d recite story after story on how she watched mom cry and pray to God for more time.
Mom would stand at the stove or at the sink washing the pots when she would
tilt her head and let go a mournful
song to the sky, singing out prayers and asking God to give her more time to raise her two daughters.
To my mind, it was Lula who kept our mother’s spirit alive within me by telling stories and sayings of our mom.
She informed my mind with vivid and soulful images of our mother.
But more than that she explained that mom was really suffering but she was willing to take the pain, to live in agony with congestive heart failure,
shortness of breathe, migraines and more
just to stay around for us.
So I stopped pining and crying for Mom and feeling adandoned it was then that I quit being the victim, angry at her and God.
Lula taught me how to understand events
and their effect on me.
Primal to everything she taught me that beauty was the expressions of the Creator.
Beauty she would say is molecular, in the DNA strands.
Beauty is not skin deep, its in everything that functions as it was created to.
Each part of the body working well, so that the brain, the mind, the spirit adjusts, functions and thives in it’s envirnoment and can allow for creative possiblities.
Taking me to Moma and the other NYC museums of Art, she pitted Gauguin, Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Monet against each other.
“Who has expressed the most beauty?” she’d ask.
Puzzled and confused, I’d shake my head and admit, “I don’t know! They all are beautiful to me in different ways!”
She would brighten and say,” Wisdom begins with the knowledge that no one knows everything.
The Creator is the only immutable being, but everything He creates is distinct and varied.
There are no two exact beings, even twins have their distinct differences.
Looking deeply at the masters painted
Flowers and waterliles, I pondered her statement.
Bur when she brought home a single flower, placed it in a vase and told me to touch it, to breath in its scent and
to tell her which was more beautiful, the paintings or the real ones.
I knew then that man only flatter himself not God.
She taught me to see the world, not as an ideal but as it actually is.
No rose colored glasses, no white picket
fences, no utopian paradise for Lula,
no two ways to do anything.
There was truth and then there was error.
No pie in the sky, no happy ever after,
no knights or heros to the rescue for her.
She explained the why of the acts and ways of men.
She would says,”Don’t be ruled by emotion or feelings instead in any given situation always give yourself the time, a minute or two of delay can be the difference between life and death
Stall for time before you express your thoughts or give an answer.
Wait until the sentiment has passed and you have throughly examined yourself for your true reasons and beliefs.
Remember, she’d say,’Always take a long pause, take three deep breathes, before committing to anything, especially a significant choice or path.
Don’t quickly do anything or even respond to a simple agreed thought.’
She would take me to the movies and interrogate me on how the movie made me feel.
After each movie, she’d ask me,”How do you feel about Jane or John or about what happened in the movie”
I’d always answer her with my emotions.
She ‘d chide me with,”That’s what the
movie maker wanted you to feel.
Don’t let anyone change your mood, your mind or your perception unless you have already studied it and come to the same conclusions.
Never give anyone the power to make you believe something without asking yourself,”What’s in it for you?
What’s in it for them?”
She taught me checkers, chess and then how to read people.
Her mind was marvelous to experience.
Her will was unbreakable.
She knew how to wait, how to delay until she had the advantage.
One day, she threw a paper on the table in front of me.
The paper was some sort of journal or social study.
On the top of the journal, she had circled in red a longitudinal study on some preschoolers or first graders.
The study was entitled,”One Marshallow,
The study was on how the first graders that could delay their desire for a single marshmallow for several minutes
inorder to receive two marshmallows turned out to be the most successful adults after twenty year.
Lula was always patient, gentle and kind towards me.
She always encouraged me and found the bright side of any of my life challenges.
When she smiled her eyes narrowed and
she looked like a black china doll.
She was an Amazon standing actualy six feet in her flats.
She was the coloured Rachel Welch.
She was as beautiful as Pam Grier in Foxy Brown and Lieutentent Uhara put together.
She was beauty,inside and skin wise as well.
She was tender, full of love and I find now without her that I am conpleted by memories.
Lula styled me for my prom with patent leather pumps, taupe stockings and a psychedlic mini dress.
We practiced dancing the Shinaglin, and did the bump but before I left she made me a rye bread sandwich with swiss cheese, tomato and mayo.
We lived in Memphis, TN on Dillard Rd. Until we were in our teens.
I remember the first time Lula got me punched in the jaw by Sutton Stanley.
For some reason, Lula liked Sutton and when he didn’t pay her any attrntion she started messing and teasing him.
Well on this day, I guess Sutton had had enough of Lula misguided attention
Only the only problem was that Lula was just as tall and strong as Sutton was.
After several minutes of her taunting, he turned beet red because he was sort of a yellow guy.
I was stand near Lula as her backup but really I was not pay attention to them when he hauled off and socked me directly on my jaw and I had not heard or seen anything.
All I remember of that punch from Sutton was that my jaw still moves around today.
Lula as far back as I can remember smoked cigarettes.
When she turned 42, she discovered a lump in her breast and under went chemotherapy and radiation.
Then there was a double mastectomy.
The radiation ruined Lula’s heart.
At fifty Lula was beatiful but her stomach was distended so far that she wore blouses and stretch pants two sizes too big for her but she still had that china doll smile that I loved.
The night Lula died, she called from her bungalow in Los Angeles.
I was married by the time she called.
It was 3:30 a.m. on a weekday
She asked, “Hey, are you asleep?”
I answered very softly as my husband was sleeping,”Yeah, what’s up?”
She asked again ,”You are asleep?
I answered,Yeah, I was in a deep sleep, Lu’
I call you in the morning.”
I put the reciever down and fell back alseep.
Lula’s son called me at 8 a.m. and said that love had died.
‘Love’ was our name for Lu.
more by DEBRA BISHOP
photograph by Alexandra Seinet