The Khalil Amani Reader

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My Mama: Furgaria Belzoria Clark (R.I.P.)

 

My Mama: Furgaria Belzoria Clark (R.I.P.)

By Khalil Amani

 

Some people look at me or read my work and probably wonder what kind of parents this wing-nut came from. LOL. "I got it from my mama!" I was born Lloyd Rodney Clark! I'm a Clark! Let's be clear about that! I am every bit my mother's child when it comes to personality, spunk, pazazz and swagger and aside from my father being a physically abusive, rigid and emotionally detached son-of-a-gun, I had a very good childhood, mainly because of my mama and the time she spent nurturing us.

(My siblings and I. That's me in the white suit.)

My mother—she had the most peculiar name I’ve ever heard for a black woman born in West Virginia, America in 1937—Furgaria Belzoria. I’ve Googled that name and as far as I can tell, no one has ever had that name. I don’t know the country of origin, although I suspect it may be Latin or Italian.

 

My mama died when I was 19 years old. She was just a young 42 years of age; stricken by breast cancer, which spread throughout her entire body until it could no longer take it. I saw her the day before she passed away.

 

It’s funny how kids never comprehend the death of their parents. They’ve been with us since the day of our birth and we just assume that they’ll be with us well into our adulthood. So, it was a life-changing event when I went to see her that one last time at the hospital with her best friend Evelyn. On the ride home Evelyn cried and cried. She was telling me that my mama was gonna die any second, hour, or day. What? I had just seen her! Although she didn’t speak much, she did speak to me and tell me that things would be all right. Did she know she was dying? Probably so, but she never let this young kid know that she was dying. Neither had my daddy intimated that she was on her last leg. Had I known that the Ancestors were about to call her home, I would’ve been by her side; day and night. I don’t know if my daddy was trying to shield his children from the pain and eventual demise of my mama or was this a case of “grown-folk business.” I just wish I had known how serious the situation was!

 

Sure enough, a day later, when the phone rang at two in the morning and I knew it was the hospital calling to say that she had died.  

 

But this blog is about the way my mother lived her life! My earliest memory of my mama’s love was taking me to a midnight movie with her and my dad. We were living in Germany in base-housing. I was about four years old. All four of us were supposed to be asleep, so mama and daddy thought they’d sneak out of our apartment and catch a midnight flick. Not that fast buddy! I woke up and caught them making plans to escape and I wasn’t having it. LOL. So, mama put my sneakers on and a coat and off I went with them. I remember them holding my hands as I cock-blocked their romantic night.

 

Growing up as the middle of five children, sometimes you can get lost; sandwiched in between the older kids and the younger brats. But for the most part, I kept my autonomy and mama made sure that I was loved.

 

Mama was very present in our lives as children. One of my fondest memories was going to the drive-in theater on a Friday night. Back in the 70's they had double features—two movies—one movie that you really wanted to see and the other one for making-out to or "necking," as they called it. Mama would make us put on our pajamas and take our pillows so that we could stretch out in our Vista Cruiser station wagon—you know the one—with the wood paneling on the sides. She’d pack a cooler with some sodas, chips, and cold-cut sandwiches and off we went. (Daddy never went with us.)

 

My best years with my mama were as a teenager. I got my restricted Driver’s License at 14. Now mama had someone to ride shotgun with her to those grown-up parties that she frequented. Daddy was a stick-in-the-mud. He rarely, if ever, went clubbing or house partying with mama. So I’d go! Mama would party like a rock-star and get white-girl wasted! She was in no condition to drive, so I’d make sure we both got home safely. Honestly, I was happy for my mama when she was liquored-up, because there were things going on in her life that could’ve driven her over a cliff, but when she was with her partying sisters and friends—the world stood still.

 

I remember the day she found my "Player's" (porno) magazine under my mattress--mama lightly scolded me and told me that she was gonna tell my daddy, but she never did. We were "on some other" that only her and I knew about. She had secrets, which I kept. We had a secret between us that she took to her grave--a secret so burdensome that even when my dad threatened me with as ass-whipping, I kept! From age six until her death, this was our unspoken bond of loyalty. I was her road-dawg!

 

Indeed, I was every bit my mother's child. I know where I get my partying ways, my dancing, my swagger and being a social butterfly. My mama! She was an extroverted personality that lit up a room when she was in the zone.

 

Always interested in what we kids were doing around the neighborhood—she got many of the womenfolk in the neighborhood together and created this club called “Parents of Bored Children.” (I don’t know what made them think we were bored, but what the hey!) Next thing we knew we were at Disney World and having beach cookouts with our parents. (Again, daddy never participated).

 

My mother, Furgaria Belzoria Clark only lived a short 42 years, but raised five children and touched the lives of many. I miss her everyday and wish she could be here to see her final products.

For my mother's granddaughters--Keturah, Sha'Tara, Brooke, LaToya (and she would adore Yehudah, Nelson, Brandon, and Mikey-hell! all of her grandchildren!)--there's a lot of your grandmother in you. Your looks and actions! If she were here, she'd be your favorite grandma and you might see her in da club!

 

If you’ve lost a mother and/or father, you have a deep appreciation for relationships. Sadly, though, some of us, in our ignorance, have dissed mothers and fathers and treated them like they don’t exist. Whatever problem they have with them they think they’ll deal with it “in the future,” as though tomorrow is promised! SMH. They have not a clue the feeling of looking into the casket of the one who gave birth and life to you! Woe be the day!

To my moms, my ol' girl, my dearest mother, blessed be YOUR NAME! You've raised kings & queens! Rest in peace until we see you on the other side! Love you desperately! Your sons and daughter.

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