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Happy birthday to my mother, she was the single most influential women in my life. She saw much adversity and faced it head-on with a tenacity and resolve earned as result of fighting off those who would wish to control her life. Though life was rarely fair to her she did so much with so little always putting her kids well-being first. She was my Ma Barker when I most needed and she protected her brood at any cost. She lived life on her own terms never apologizing for who she was and once her mind was made up no one could influence what she wanted to do. To some this was foolish but for her this was never again allowing another man to control her destiny. Through her own life experience and lessons learned from her youthful mistakes of allowing others to mistreat her she was responsible for teaching us to always treat women with dignity and respect. She taught us to survive, stand up for what we believed in and to not simply exist in this life but to really live life out loud. She had fears yet she never showed them. She was old school yet she was also the modern woman and knew it. She was very religious, a proud Roman Catholic and though I was the lamb that got lost, she never failed to leave me with a holy card or blessed religious item when we went out for our weekly dinner. I could not begrudge her that which guided her through a hard life, the one thing that never failed her, the church. Sure we argued, at times a lot but she would always wave her hand and with young girl giggle say, “so what, we’re family, that’s how we do it.” We may not have agreed on many things and we may have argued but we laughed even harder, boy did we laugh. As she grew older and not long before she left us I was blessed and honored to hear from her those recollections of her life she had never shared with another, those things I knew but those she never spoke of. Sitting by her bedside at night she asked me “is it okay if I talk about my life?” Even now I cannot help but cry with gratitude when I her words reach deep within my soul. She had been let down often throughout her life, relied on no one and trusted few, seldom allowing outsiders into her family life and rarely accepted help from others. Yet, upon me, her son, she bestowed the greatest honor, she allowed me to be there when she needed most placing her full trust in me that I would do what was right for her in her time of need. I am blessed to have been able to be there and did not let her down. The life lessons she taught me helped me to know what she wanted me to do if within my power. I will always remember as a young boy lying in bed at night staring up at the blank ceiling I asked God for one thing and one thing only, to allow me to be there for my ma when the time came that she most needed me, God answered my prayer in spades! She knew I was there. She was never one for throwing around the words ‘I love you’ without cause and rarely did she but her actions said everything about her love for us that was unquestionable. A few nights before she passed as I held her frail hand I will never forget her words “I love you, Stevie, I love you all, I always have.” Happy birthday, Ma I think of you every single day, I miss you every single day. You were my hero then, you are my hero now and you will always be my hero. I love you.
Love your son,