I love to draw analogies between my life and that of someone else who lived centuries ago. One life that comes to mind is that of a young Hebrew boy named Joseph who lived in a time before the birth of Christ. Written in the pages of Joseph’s life, I not only found some similarities between my life and his, but I also discovered a noteworthy symbolism that I have chosen to apply to my own story. Please understand that my life was not in any wise an exact replica of Joseph’s, but I too had to face and overcome extreme circumstances so that my family could have a brighter future.
Now the symbolism of which I mentioned has to do with a dream that Joseph had. In this dream, he made reference of the moon and stars. Also in the dream was a reference made to the sun. The moon represented his mother and the eleven stars signified his eleven brothers or all his father’s sons minus him. Hence, I refer to myself as the moon and my five sons as five stars. The sun represented his father, Israel, but since I never married there was no need to carry over the symbolism of the sun.
Joseph’s older brothers were jealous and called him the dreamer, and as a child growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s I would have been considered by most in my family the dreamer of the bunch. My mind was forever in the clouds. During my childhood, I dreamt of one day singing, playing the piano, living in a beautiful home, married to a wonderful husband, and having a loving family. No one could have convinced me otherwise that I would never obtain my dreams.
Early on I can recall going through a period in my life where I felt as though everyone—including my family—looked down upon me because of my unfortunate circumstances. Yes, I had given birth to five boys out of wedlock when I had not yet turned nineteen. No, I was never sold into slavery as Joseph, but I sure felt enslaved by my state of affairs and everyone’s critical opinions of me. The young Joseph ended up in Egypt—a strange land—and I along with my five sons ended up in the projects in a small two-bedroom apartment barely big enough for four.
Just as the good Lord was with Joseph and granted him favor while in Egypt, He was also with me and my five boys while we lived in the projects. We suffered belittlement from others who were more fortunate than us, but we never gave up and we eventually made our way out of the pit we had fallen into. Of course, it was all with the good Lord’s help. What would one expect from a single eighteen year-old black girl with five boys living on welfare? Kids involved in drugs, crime, and poverty.
There were many hurtful things done and said by people in my neighborhood. They meant to destroy any hopes of a better life for me and my boys. No one would expect my sons to reach high levels academically, to achieve successful careers, nor to have loving families of their own. Looking back, I can clearly see how people meant it for evil but the good Lord turned it around and used it for good. Their words and actions motivated me to raise my sons despite their negative views. I raised them to be very competitive, to stick together, and to push through the hard times regardless of the pain.
People today really enjoy hearing a true story about how one family triumphed over adversity, how one family could win against all odds, and about how one family was able to garner strength in the time of weakness. My story is about a single black mother raising her five sons with all the fortitude and might she could muster. Joseph in the end played a key role in the continuation of his entire family, and I can only hope that what I have done will do the same for mine. The posterity that I will leave my five stars is not one of money—but one of an image that reflects love and determination.