Every year she had a big party. The entire family, and all of our friends, were invited. You were expected to bring a gift even if you were broke from Christmas. She cooked all of the food for her party and after several beers would entertain us with her way of dancing. We would play Keno, knowing that she would cheat, and take all of our money.
She was so strong. What was she like when she was young? A beauty, we know for sure. Petite, slim, and vivacious, with long, flowing red hair. Many men found her irresistible. I imagine her as a carefree, young woman, teasing men with her flirtatious smile.
Then reality takes over. She worked many hours in a cotton field and could drag a bag that was at least half her weight. She sun must have been merciless in Georgia. There were no pretty clothes for my Mom to wear to parties and parades. Instead there were many floors to scrub, innumerable dishes to wash, and an abundant stack of diapers for the children she raised.
She left home early in the morning to clean homes. No matter what the weather, she rode many buses and streetcars to homes that were far removed from us on the South Side of Chicago.
Mom would come home, tired and sore, but proceed to the kitchen to prepare dinner. She bought "good" meat from the stores in the white neighborhood. Her cooking warmed the heart, as well as the spirit.