By Jocelyn Thomas
Rosa Marie Chapman was the most influential person in my life. I praise her not because she is my mother but because she raised me. My father left my mother alone to rear their five little children in extreme poverty. She could not keep food on our table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads, but she always persevered. She never threw in the towel. She rented dilapidated houses, furnished them with furniture off the street, and made us a home. God kept us safe when she would hang blankets in doorways to block off all rooms but one and the kitchen, and burned kerosene heaters, turned on stove-top gas burners, and the oven to keep us warm.
My mother had less than a ninth-grade education and worked as a housekeeper for a dollar a day and travel fare. All my growing up years I remember Mama working hard to provide for us. Even if she had to go to the Salvation Army to get us clothes or to my grandmother's house for us to eat or to my auntie’s house for us to have a bed to sleep in. She never lost the determination to care for her children. Christmases were especially hard for her because she lacked the money to shop for Christmas gifts or even buy a Christmas tree. But her tenacity led her to stand in long lines waiting for handouts of free food and toys. She was so happy when she thought she had made us happy. She laughed with us even when she felt like crying.
While exemplifying strength and dedication, my mom loved and cared for all her children until they became adults. I’m here today exemplifying her attributes because she never gave up on her family.