Channeling my inner Norma Jean (Mama) 4

My mother is a strong woman.  When the going gets tough, she gets tough and keeps going. I channel my inner Norma Jean when things are tough for me.  I ponder:

What would Mama do?

How did Mama get through?

My Mom is in the third row, the lone Black girl. Link to recent article about her experience is at the end of this post.

Following her, I can, too!

Most of what I have faced is light compared with what she faced and before that what my grandmother and a long line of women leading back through my ancestry faced.  I cannot truly imagine what they faced.

How did Big Mama (my great-grandmother) cope?

How often did life put her on the ropes?

I think about Sojourner.

If Sojourner could stand up and speak her Truth, how can I not?  Why would I stay silent?

I summon my inner Fannie Lou; she powered through despite the insults and the assaults.  I can do no less.

My trials and tribulations are light compared to these.

Can we talk about Harriet Tubman, please?

She brought others along on a journey to freedom, how can I not push, pull, and inform others, too?

I appreciate Sister Shirley who opened the door that people were not ready for her to enter.

She brought her own seat

Her unwavering audacity was her greatest feat.

I dare not be weak with burdens so light

I call on the might

of the women before and now:

Mama, Mother, Sister, Daughter, Star

Ella, Rosa, Nina, Bar

Norma Jean Thompson, earlier this year at a church event. That’s my Mama!

Mama, Norma Jean is my main source

to carry on, be strong, get through

What would I have done without you?

Thank you, Mom.


Mama was one of the first Black students to integrate Rosati Kain,  a Catholic High School in St. Louis, MO.  She went from an all-Black city, Kinloch, to an all-white school.  This article was published recently about that experience:

I Wish I could Sew Like My Mother

My Mother Prays for Me



About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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4 thoughts on “Channeling my inner Norma Jean (Mama)

  • barbara lewis

    thank you for putting the challenges of now into perspective. others have come this way before and they have more than met the challenges of their time. the obligation is now ours to inspire and lead the way for tomorrow.

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      You are so right – “they have more than met the challenges of their time.” Each time does have its unique challenges.
      Drawing inspiration from these women and others sure helps me.
      Thank you for taking time to read and leave a comment.

  • Helen Credle

    If your mom remains healthy and living a wellness enlightened lifestyle with you physically in her life, then you our beloved sister continued to be daily blessed.
    There’s a saying “one never misses their water until the well runs dry”
    This is where I start from my mom/daughter current status.
    She was 64 and I 44, we’re 20 years apart, when My mom, called Brownie, because of her beautiful copper colored skin, made her transition.
    She reared 5 children 2 girls and 3 boys.
    Our children lost the opportunity to have a grandmother to be a part of their older growing experiences.
    Me and my brothers and sisters miss her presence greatly in the rearing of our kids.
    Ya see we had our grandmothers/grandfathers stemming from 2 sides of our parents families.
    In the case of my family daily absence has made our hearts grow fonder and learning the new meaning of a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    Thank you for igniting the importance of “mothers”.
    Loving you beloved Candelaria continues to be my blessing.

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      Like you and your beloved “Brownie” my Mom and I are almost 20 years apart. (Mom had me two months shy of her 20th birthday.) My condolences
      to you and your family for the early loss of your Mom. Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read my post and leave such a thoughtful