The Acknowledgment

 

Purple Heart - The Acknowledgement - Version 4

TO GOD
AND MY MOTHER,
MRS. ESPANOLIA MCCLOUD

Some of the world’s greatest stories exist within the pages of one book: The Holy Bible. I can remember the fascination and intrigue that would course through my veins as my mother related the story of Daniel in the lion’s den or Lazarus being risen from the dead. Somehow, I intrinsically knew that I belonged in this world of storytelling; the stories touching upon a nerve in my brain that ignited an imagination as varied and colorful as my mother’s spice rack. From the black pepper to the seasoning salt, I found inspiration in the food they touched. My love of barbecue ribs and macaroni-n-cheese fattened my desire to somehow infuse these wonderful foods into my style of storytelling, always washing them down with a healthy dose of hot cocoa or cool lemonade. Therefore, it was from my mother that I gained a wonderful enthusiasm for the art of storytelling. To craft out a tale from beginning to end is not as easy as smoothing butter on hot corn, but it is nonetheless as satisfying as taking the time to quietly chew on a nice green apple. God and storytelling saved my life, sparing me through some of my most painful episodes. This is why when I suck on the pit of a just-ripened cherry or take the last sip of a good beef brisket gravy, I remember to give thanks to a God who provided me with such a wonderful source of inspiration: food.

…AND THE OTHER WONDERFUL WOMEN AND MEN WHO
CHANGED MY LIFE!

The moon was a mixture of cream of tartar and butter sheathed in a silver veil. The sun, its face at rest, the bosom of the night did swell. And I sat upon the dew as refreshing as an ice cream cone in summer. Laid my head upon the earth and partook of a deep and satisfying slumber.

I dreamed of those who had brought me thus far; the faces of the many women and men who changed my life, forming the collage. My breath now a whisper as the shadows, cast forth under the moonlight as two fans of silver fingers, began my brow to gently massage. My imagination was stimulated by the spirits that flowed from their tips, their stories sent to occupy my dreams. For a long time I was that dress in the making that could not be worn, because it had no seams. Now, here I sat in a haze of fog, before me a big, black iron pot. Situated atop two pieces of kindling, under which sat several blades of grass seasoned well with rosemary drops.

Kneading two curled fingers into my sleepy eyes, I was unconvinced that this was reality. But fantasy at its very amazing best, my body, its blanket wrapped in totality. So I sat cuddled under this warm blanket as transparent as the wind that traveled by. Then I looked up and noticed something falling directly into the pot from a corner of the evening sky. It was a solitary raindrop, and I watched it fill the pot until it reached exactly to the brim. The dryness that gripped my mouth prompting my lips, its round black edge to eagerly skim. For any traces of the wonderful wetness, but it was hunger that more so gripped my being. However, I knew to sit back and wait patiently for the picture to unfold, the blessed images I was seeing.

Sitting without a single crackling, the kindling lay as silent as sleeping sound. Suddenly, I felt myself among nurturing company, even though a single person could not be found. Just when I was about to shut my eyes again, the kindling popped with a snap! I thought that all of the demons that had haunted and tortured me since childhood, were about to wage a furious attack. But it was not to be, for I had 36 wonderful people to place their shields around me. And they are: Dr. Miyako McCloud-Hopson, Mr. Anton McCloud, Mr. Jarvis McCloud, Ms. Felecia Weatherall, Ms. Frieda (Smith) McCloud, Mr. Tim Morrow, Mrs. Ruby Horace White, Mrs. Mary Franklin, Mr. Arthur Franklin, Mr. Joe Willie Dukes, Mr. Fred Dukes, Mrs. Warrine Aldridge, Mr. Charles Taylor, Mother Sarah Peterson, Ms. Maggie Alexander, Ms. Viola Gordon, Mrs. Maxine Foster, Ms. Earline Glover, Ms. Ruth Weekes, Ms. Kate Howell, Mr. Richard Perry, Mr. Virgil King, Ms. Barbara Wilbert, Ms. Hettie Maddox, Mrs. Sonya Pruitt-Brookins, Ms. Clara Davis, Ms. Sherrie Evans, Mr. Romanus Robinson, Mrs. Irene Moore-Blue, Ms. Gayna Sealy, Ms. Simone Newland, Ms. Tulane Montgomery, Mrs. Holly Reiten Erickson, Ms. Rose Martinez, Ms. Verna Lalbeharie, and Mr. Greg Sullivan. All represented by the pot in this story, the kindling now burning bright courtesy of sparks that had fallen from the bosom of a traveling lightning bolt. Once its mission had been fulfilled, it quietly galloped off across a sea of fanning blue flames with the brilliance of a golden colt.

And now the fire stood burning, but the pot still had to be filled with sustenance, edible. Just then, potatoes and mushrooms began sprouting up, their roots precious pedestals. It was then that I knew that God’s protection was all around me. As I bowed my head to give thanks, I suddenly found myself floating above a patch of onions and carrots, a hearty white and orange sea. And I picked those vegetables as if there would be no tomorrow, for tomorrows I knew were never promised. This would be the food I would use to build up my spiritual fortitude, when in the presence of the discouraging and doubting Thomas. Thankfully, there were those who believed in me, the individuals who infused my blood with hope. The ones who instilled a purpose in my mind and taught me that life is a beautiful kaleidoscope. Of possibilities. So tonight, I would stir up the world’s richest soup, each morsel I would be sure to consume. The heartbeats of those who cared, within the constitution of each morsel, did bloom. Ms. Tarita Chambers, Ms. Yalonda Carson, Mrs. Shunda Leigh, Mrs. Kendra Norman-Bellamy, Mrs. Heather Dixon, and Mr. Terry Shropshire, members of the choir of encouragement. Dressed in cream-creased choir robes of satin and rubies, theirs was a kind and selfless sort of nourishment.

Approaching the pot, I knew not to walk too far, for beyond its edge was a valley. Luckily, a teacher was in there with her arms upheld and she went by the name of Mrs. Sally. With the last name of Simmons, her laugh ballooned even wider than her smile, which reached to the tips of her glasses. While Ms. Maya Angelou, Ms. Pearl Cleage, Ms. Edwidge Danticat, Ms. Toni Morrison, and Mr. Mattie Stepanek, courtesy of the Oprah Winfrey Show, commenced to teaching their writing classes.

The lesson of the day was on living as a writer. I listened intently as I gathered the vegetables and rosemary then sat down quietly beside her. My mother that is, Mrs. Espanolia McCloud, who held on tightly as we both listened while the soup slowly simmered. It was then that I spotted teardrops falling from her eyes, their presence reflecting a collective glimmer…of hope. Hope, I instinctively knew lived in the others who would guide me along the way. When my mother was no longer there to hold me, braid my hair, or a game of jump rope to play. It’s funny, I didn’t realize how the five authors had gotten there, just that they were immaculately dressed. When I beheld their presence, my creativity was instantly and divinely blessed. By their wisdom golden that had been imparted through writing pens tipped with diamond flecks that had toughened with grace over time. I learned that now was my moment, as a writer, to live up to my greatest potential and to emit my brightest shine. But true glory is not had without many days of hardship and nights clouded over by doubt. And so I thank the many people who made my journey easier, enabling me to pave my own route. So with the help of God, and the belief in myself instilled in me by all these wonderful women and men, I was blessed to write this book. It was because of my munching on their powerful words of wisdom and inspiration that when the trials of life stormed in, my foundation never, ever shook!

THANK YOU FOR BEING KIND TO ME.