July 12, 2013 by Manny Wordsmith
My mother was definitely a child of summer.
Whenever I close my eyes and think about her during that time, the clouds around her look fuller, the sky bluer and her smile bigger.
I remember when she would stand outside in the early afternoon and hang laundry on the clothesline. It was relaxing watching her. She would hum gospel songs as she separated sheets and shirts. Her long, bright sundress would flutter when the wind blew, but it never broke her stride.
She never wanted me to stay inside, so she would kick me out after breakfast and tell me, “Go and have an adventure.” which I would promptly do. I would find my cousin Mikel, who was my esteemed “Shortround”, and tried to be the best Indiana Jones I could be. My mom fueled my sometimes over active imagination by asking me what I did on a particular day and then give me ideas on how to make things cooler.
In the house she would sing. No more quiet humming. She’d have her favorite Shirley Caesar or Winans tape up and she wouldn’t be shy about singing along. All the doors and the windows would be open and she would water all 6 or so plants we had scattered across the living room. Depending on how hot it was, my mom would refuse to use the oven and instead make my siblings and I some of the tastiest cold cut sandwiches. They were mostly filled with bologna, but with the addition of fresh tomatoes, lettuce and love, it was so much more.
Everything about her was summer. On your rainiest, darkest day she could bring the sun out. When you were your coldest, she could warm you up. She went far beyond friendship and motherhood to make sure everyone in her circle was ok.
Happy Birthday Shirley Ann Smith and thank you for being my summertime every moment I spent with you on earth.