The family had been torn apart by tragedy and later the lottery win of the matriarch. One would think that a loving mother who just won a sizable fortune would be able to bring everybody together again.
Mama Jones was rich and tired, and she was losing the tug-of-war. There was a moment when she was ready to wash her hands of the burden of guilt and the responsibility of wealth once and for all.
Nobody wanted to listen to reason. The past was the past. Everybody made mistakes, things were said and done. None of them could be changed. Mama Jones and her riches sat on one side of the divide, her brothers and sons on the other.
One time she scribbled a note to her youngest brother–the one she had taught to sing his alphabets and write his name; her favorite little brother—the one who had always listened to her. She never knew it, but baby brother had indeed read her note and was genuinely moved by it. Then he slipped her scribbled note in his Bible somewhere deep in the Old Testament and went to the kitchen to make himself a sandwich to eat with his week-old potato salad.
While he ate, he forgot what his sister wrote. He’d never admit it aloud, but he had long forgotten what everybody was angry about. So angry that even her monetary peace-offering was rejected.
Mama Jones’ sons did remember, however. Although they knew she was in a bad place at the time and had long since changed, they could not forget nor forgive.
Mama Jones got a boyfriend so she wouldn’t be alone. He was younger than she and very attractive. He was also, as she suspected from day one, attracted to her bulging purse, but she didn’t have the strength to contend with his greed. So she fed it, lavishing him with everything she wished she could give to her family.
This went on for a while and Mama Jones’ purse lost weight. She was not broke when her boyfriend left, but she was sick. She would find out much later that it was her brothers who ran the man off. They couldn’t bear the leech sucking their sister dry anymore. It didn’t take much to scare him away. Mama Jones’ brothers were some scary looking cats.
Plus, they realized something after all these years: they still loved their sister.
Her sons were a little more stubborn, but ultimately they came to the same conclusion. They decided one day to make peace with their past and got together and went to visit the grave of their father. When they arrived, they found their mother kneeling at his grave with clippings from the hydrangea bush he had planted for her so many years ago. It would seem that hydrangea was much more forgiving.
Mama Jones poured out her grief and sorrow and as she placed the flower clippings before the gravestone, she swore this day she would move on and live again–even if she had to do it alone.
Through a haze of tears Mama Jones saw four sets of black church shoes surrounding her. She wiped her eyes and slowly looked up where she saw her sons, all men, peering down at her with the loving eyes of the innocent boys they used to be. As her heart melted and peace flooded her soul, she would have been content to breathe her last right then, but she lived to feel her precious boys arms wrapped tightly around her, their tears dripping on her face.
And as she relished the resonance of their tenor voices proclaiming their love, she heard, like background music, chains falling.