Lorraine: A Mother’s Day tributePublished 7:22pm Saturday, May 11, 2013
By Dennis Edwards
The first truly beautiful woman I ever saw was at my birth.
I didn’t know it then, but my mother, Lorraine Reid Edwards, who later became Lorraine Hardie, was stunning. Even in my teen years, when time led her to hold my hand as she went shopping downtown, guys would whistle as she walked by. Later I realized just how beautiful she was and just how much she loved my father, who died suddenly many years before.
Isn’t beauty a fascinating thing? It’s always complicated by life and living, pain and suffering, slights and mistreatment from people eternally present, though long gone.
The fact is, Lorraine was one of a number of beautiful, educated, independent women we all grew up around. All were long-time educators like Andrew J. Brown’s Lula Mae Baskerville, East Suffolk’s Juanita Glover, Dimples and Vermelle Byrd, as well as Aunt Lillian, who introduced my mother and father. There was school principle Athalia Richards, and her sister-in-law Dolly, Joyce Wilson, Elaine Walters and members of the Chums Club like Mrs. Bellamy.
Mama used to host the Chums at our house for meetings. A roomful of the most elegant women I’ve ever seen. Beauty, intellect, taste and just the right amount of brass. Each had her own story. Each set meticulous standards for home life, while demanding the best from students.
I didn’t realize until later just how they all affected me. When I went away to college, I couldn’t image there were anything but strong women in the world. I thought every girl must be on her way to being a woman like them. But life has a way of revealing how extraordinarily our mothers are.
Everybody called mama Lorraine. I am only now beginning to really understand her. Twelve years after her passing, I’m piecing together the story of her life, her hurts, accomplishments, dreams realized and unrealized as well as loves gained and loves lost.
Isn’t it funny how we eventually come to grips with our parents? I’m not talking about Mom and Dad. I’m talking about on a first name basis. Who were they really, and what were their dreams, sacrifices and obstacles before and after we left home?
I didn’t know until recently that Lorraine didn’t want me to marry when I did. I understand now she always wanted me to come home and that she probably expected me to be the child who’d be around in her later days.
She never told me, as many parents never tell their children things like that. She was wise enough to know I had to live my own life. Had I known, I can’t tell you what I’d have done. But it would have been nice to know. I can’t imagine knowing would have changed my decisions. But knowing might have prevented my staying away so long.
She raised me to leave home, to stand on my own two feet. Because of her, I did that and much more. However, there are times when I wonder what would have happened had she had her way.
Therein lies the love. She didn’t make her way mandatory. She let me get out there and live my life. After all, isn’t that the essence and the real beauty of a mothers love?
Still, in the end, after all is said and done, I’m home now. So ultimately Lorraine got what she wanted, and at least at this stage in my life it seems Mama knew best.
Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter and anchor, He is a 1974 graduate of Suffolk High School. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.