Arella, My Umbrella

The day was cold and rainy, and the sky was a gray-purple hue.
The sun took off on vacation and would be gone for a day or two.

I looked into my closet to find something to brighten my dreadful mood. I spy Mama’s yellow umbrella lying amongst my many shoes.

I assembled an Adirondack jacket, jeans, and bright pink Crocs. I put them on for a long, reflective walk.

Mama left me this morning, and I was sad and deep in thought. Where was she now after the brave battle with breast cancer she fought?

Was she comforted by daddy, her parents, brother, and the other loved ones she lost? I had no answers as I stepped outside into the watery onslaught.

I popped open the umbrella, and instantly, I became aglow. A bright, vibrant light shone over me like a magic halo.

I looked down the street, taken by the scene. A path lit to follow like a fantasy, but I was not in a dream.

I glided over the puddles on the sidewalk and on the sides of the streets. I held tightly onto the umbrella for the life of me.

It lifted me higher, above the lawns and over the top of the trees.
The wind blew gently on my face, and though rain was all around me, I was dry from head to feet.

I looked up inside the umbrella to understand what was happening to me. Mama’s smiling face in the fabric caused calm to come over me.

When she spoke, her voice was full of glory. She said, “take this last ride with me.”

We flew over lots of lands until the land was covered in fluffy, white puffs. The rain had stopped, and the air was hot and humid with a thick, heavy musk.

As we landed, I could see rows of cotton as far as the eyes could see. Mama looked around and said, “I toiled these fields as a child, here in the Delta of Mississippi.”

She said when the sack got heavy on her back; she picked enough for the day. Mr. Charley weighed the sack as she stood in line for a nickels’ pay.

I reached down and picked a boll of cotton and held it to my nose. It smelled like the rich, red dirt from which it grows.

“Hold tight,” she said as she lifted me, twirling me, around and around; I spun. When I stopped, I was atop a small, wooden schoolhouse among some shacks in a town.

Mama told me, there she learned to count numbers and how to read and write. Her teachers were quick with the ruler to give the kids’ knuckles a strike.

Before I could ask a question, I was back in the air like a bird. Mama said nothing as she carried me; I took note and did not say a word.

My feet landed on the steps of a courthouse. Mama said, “This is where I married your Dad.”

I looked up into her eyes, and they twinkled when she talked of her past. “One of the best days of my life. The others when I birthed five daughters, you being my very last.”

Like a rocket, I was launched into the sky with frightening frantic haste. I almost lost my grasp, but with two hands, I was safe.

In Mama’s eyes, I saw terror. I asked her what made the umbrella shake?

She said we had to leave in a hurry. Daddy voted at the polling place.

I looked down, and I could see the torches and ropes tossed up as we fled. I saw the lights through the trees until they were tiny flickering threads.

Racing through the sky, the clouds started to gather. I knew we were back North again.

Sailing over our old house, I saw the tire swing that broke loose from the branch. I remember Mama rushing to see me sprawled out, laughing in the grass.

We floated down to my porch and right to my front door. I looked up inside my umbrella, and Mama’s beam was getting low.

Tears formed in the creases of my eyes, but I closed them to stop the flow. The rain stopped around me and the clouds spread so the sky could show.

I touched her fading face, and I begged, “Mama, please don’t go.”
“I’ll never close this umbrella no matter how the weather goes.”

Mama smiled and said, “Close it, for you will never see the blue skies and beyond, where my spirit will watch over you forever on.”

I closed my umbrella gently and stepped inside, still sad. Then I thought about the journey and the great lesson I had.

Mama and Daddy formed a divine legacy of fighting for justice and equality; our forefathers died to achieve. That’s the beacon that I will use to guide and motivate me.

I pulled off my jacket and settled in for a lovely comfortable eve. I looked at the yellow umbrella that was lying on the rug next to me.

The weatherman was forecasting showers and scattered rain throughout the rest of the week. I giggled with joy, and a single drop of water slid down my cheek.

Arella, my umbrella, would take me on another adventurous flight.
When the days are dark and gloomy, I know Arella, my umbrella would warm me with light.

We will travel together forever, in all of my memories.
I love you, Mom!

Arella L. Jordan
March 29, 1935 – July 28, 202

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