I was around 8 years old when I first noticed her. It was at a Birthday party, and my thoughts exclaimed, “Nedra’s mother looks like a movie star!” I had claimed Nedra as my best friend, so I got to see quite a bit of this “star,” Mrs. Fairley.
I was around nineteen, still living in Chicago. My memory fails me, but I think I met with Nedra at her job downtown and Mrs. Fairley stopped by. I was discussing my audition for Hair, when this guy overheard us and remarked, “She should be auditioning for Hair!” Was he referring to Nedra, whose fro’ was so huge, it had a life of its own, or me, who had a headband that deserved serious hippy status? No! This guy was looking at Mrs. Fairley!
The thing is, her glamor never got in the way of honoring the beauty of her daughters. Like herself, Mrs. Fairley dressed her two girls impeccably, and although she was Baptist, she looked to the Catholic schools to educate them. As a result, I witnessed her beauty at every dance recital and school event; she was there, everywhere her girls needed her. When requested, she chaperoned our club parties, and when the dance school traveled to the Bahamas, Mrs. Fairley boarded the plane with her girls, not missing a beat.
A good” village” mom, Mrs. Fairley took me with her as a Birthday surprise to Nedra at Southern Illinois University. (Thank goodness, when we knocked on the door, we weren’t surprised !). Don’t think Mrs. Fairley didn’t throw a mama hint on the way home. “Don’t you want to go to college too?” But, of course, at that time, her suggestion fell upon deaf ears.
I suffered an assault in Chicago that same year, and I welcomed Mrs. Fairley’s compassionate calls and her visit. Nedra was away at school, but I knew Mrs. Fairley wasn’t stepping in for Nedra; she was a village mom.
I finally went away to school and called to tell my Chicago sisters I was marrying a man I knew for only three months. Of course, everyone thought I was crazy, except Mrs. Fairley. She had my back.
Growing into middle age, I began to call Mrs. Fairley “Jeanette.” (She looked too young to be “Mrs. Fairley”). Because I no longer lived in Chicago, I wasn’t in her company much, but Jeanette was always a part of my visits home, and she was with me in Alabama at my kitchen table helping to make favors for my daughter’s wedding.
Both my mom and daughter swear that “Jeanette (was) funny!” During the car ride from Chicago to Alabama, Jeanette’s stories had my mother rolling with laughter. During my daughter’s encounters with her Godmother, Nedra, my daughter must have experienced Jeanette and got to hear some of her stories; I heard them during our phone visits.
I also heard her stories during a trip to Barbados, where I began to call her “Queen.” I remember being proud to be in her company. Queen Jeanette nurtured those she loved, her family by blood and by love. And when the time came for her to be nurtured, as she well deserved, her daughters and her Chicago family gave her love. Those of us that lived elsewhere, sent our love from afar.
Her health now an issue, Queen’s heart still managed to look out for her girls. Fully masked, she boarded a plane to Kansas to see her youngest daughter, Denice, and her family, and meet and mingle with her new great-grandson, Tatum. Tatum met her heart, and her sense of humor (she danced).
As pictures reveal, my Mrs. Fairley/Jeanette’/ Queen was still beautiful. Her beauty was demonstrated inside/out. I remember.
“It’s all good/love/God” – Victorine
© 2021 Vicki Goldston, All rights reserved.
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Author of Be S.A.F.E., StillAware, Faithful, Excellent, now available on Kindle Amazon as an e-book.
“…the book title and its content are intended to be a whisper, reminding us that by taking the time to connect with our spiritual self, we can center through anything and that we are forever within the bubble of God’s protection.”
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