Thursday, September 18, 2008

We Are Family!

"One finger pointing the blame don't make no impact.
But you ball up all them fingers into a fist...
and you can strike a mighty blow.
This family got to be that fist."

Mama Joe from the movie "Soul Food"

Soul Food

The film centers on the trials of an extended African-American family, held together by longstanding family traditions which begin to fade as serious problems take center stage.

Set in Chicago, Illinois, Soul Food, told through the eyes of 11-year-old Ahmad (Hammond), follows the trials of the Joseph family, a close-knit African American family that gets together to have Sunday dinner together every week, with plenty of soul food to go around. Mother Joseph (Hall) has three daughters, who each have had varying success in life: oldest daughter Teri (Williams) has suffered relationship problems ever since her younger sister Maxine (Fox) stole and married Teri's old boyfriend, Kenny (Sams). Teri's current husband, Miles (Beach), desires to follow his dreams of being an R&B musician. Youngest Joseph daughter Robin (Long)--nicknamed "Bird"--has just opened a barbershop/beauty parlor, and the family is uneasy about her marriage to Lem (Phifer), an ex-convict.

These problems are complicated when Mother Joe, the glue that holds the family together, suffers a debilitating stroke during an operation to amputate her leg (since she was a diabetic) and slips into a coma. Without her guidance, the family begins to fall apart. Teri takes in her troubled cousin Faith (Ravera), who begins flirting with Miles. As an ex-con, Lem cannot find a job, so Bird makes an uneasy deal with her ex-boyfriend Simuel St. James (Mel Jackson) to get Lem a job, but, a series of events eventually land him in prison again . By contrast, Kenny and Maxine are reasonably stable, and expecting their third child. Ahmad, Kenny and Maxine's oldest child, is worried about the state of his extended family, and conspires to find a way to bring them all back together.

As I reflect on my current situation with my own family, this story line came to my mind. You see, I have my own big mama. A 73 year old woman who birthed 6 kids, 4 girls and 2 boys (1 deceased), and then adopted 2 girls. She is loving, open hearted, caring, lively, and best of all a firecracker that can not be stopped. She single handily raised all her kids while working 2 jobs to support them with very little help. Now in her older age, she still helps the kids and the brood of grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is our rock of that holds this family together. Without her house as our stomping ground and her love to get us through, who knows where this family will be. The 4 girls that my big mama has represent Teri, Maxine, and Bird intertwined. Yes, each of the 4 girls has their own personality but you can tell that my big mama is etched somewhere in their soul.

My mother D is the "Maxine" of the bunch. She loves her family, especially me, and will do anything to keep them growing. Well, my father A was "Kenny" (now deceased); holding his own with his own business and sometimes my mother was the housewife. My mother "Maxine" is a rocket on her own. She stands up for what she believes in as long as you don't mess with her family, you are all good. She cares very deeply for big mama and checks on her everyday. She often butt heads with her sister D better know as "Teri" more than the others.

My aunt D is "Teri". The highly driven business woman who strives to have it all. She has gone through husbands like flowing water but for the better of herself. "Teri" will always strive to be on top no matter what it takes. One of "Teri's" famous quotes from the movie that stuck with me is about her money: "She is not the ATM, Automatically Teri's Money". As a family, my "Teri" will help out in any way that she can but the family has got to realize that she is not the ATM. There is a lot of goodness in her heart. She is explosive at times, or should I say bi-polar, but the love she gives, when she's in a good mood, can not be measured by money.

My aunt L is "Bird". She is the youngest and spoiled rotten. She was also a hairstylist just like "Bird" in the movie. Now my ''Bird" has had her share of men, never married, but the one who took her through the most was also an ex-con or should I say now-con. My "Bird" has had her share of ups and downs but she tries to keep the peace between the sisters or just stay out of it. She is like a cousin because of her young age and being raised around her nieces and nephews but wants the recognition of an aunt. Go figure! If only we can do something about that "mommy's little girl" syndrome. My big mama can't or shall I say won't move without her and vice versa.

My aunt J is........well lets just say she is a special brand of big mama. She is the oldest of all the kids. She is kind of far off from the family but is close to the 1 brother. Don't get me wrong she does come around the family but only for family functions. I don't think it is her but I do think it is her husband. He is controlling in all the wrong ways. My aunt J used to have that fiery behavior that's exhibited by all the sisters but it seems lately that her fire has burned out. She seems to be going the opposite direction of the rest of the sisters. She seems as though she doesn't care about herself anymore. Whether it be clothes, hair, cars, or the house; she has fallen into a slump. I pray for her return but until she gets tired, prayer is my only answer.

As I compared the 4 girls in my family with Soul Food's girls, I get that emotional feeling of a family that is loving and crazy at the same time. My aunt L and I had this conversation earlier about uniting our family again to be closer and doing things more as a family so the little ones can get to know each other more. I would love to have Sunday dinners of soul food (fried chicken, greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, etc) but how can we if some members want to participate and some won't? How can we come together as a family and show love to each other without any drama? I know not all will get along but can we do this for the sake of family? I love my family with all my heart but it seems as though we have drifted apart and our "rock" of the family is getting older and unable to cook those unforgettable meals. I wish the oldest, my aunt J, would take more of a lead role but she has her own issues, understandably. I wish that we all could and would take a lead role, without any excuses or hindrances, that includes me.

This is something that I pray about often. I want my family to come together and show more unity. We don't have an "Ahmad" in our story to con us to come together or maybe we all can act as "Ahmad", without the cons, and bring this Soul Food story together as it should be.

Family is an important treasure to me. Family is something everyone needs to get through this thing called life. Family is what keeps us going even though we may not realize it. Family is like an orchestra or band with each of us playing an instrument to our own tune but when we get together, we make a beautiful song. We may not be the Huxtables or the Brady Bunch, but I am proud to say that we are Big Mama's Bunch.

"Although our branches grow in different directions, our roots remain as one"

To all my family of Big Mama's Bunch and beyond, I LOVE YOU!


Think about your family and ways to bring unity to your family. I surely will be activating my faith and dreams into reality with family bonding ideas. God bless the families all over the world.

No comments: