My mother subjected me to several drive-bys that I still remember today.  Take a deep breath.  These were glockless affairs.  Acts of kindness that planted seeds of generosity in me when I was a pre-teen.  My mom pointed her finger in a come-hither motion and said, “Come ride off a piece with me.”  I obliged and took a seat in our green Chevy Impala with a book.  I loved the dust the Impala kicked up on the dirt roads in our community and was grateful to witness the area’s natural beauty.  I was so engrossed in reading that I often waved my mother off when we arrived in someone’s yard.  She’d ask me to come inside; other times she’d say, “I’ll be right back.”  When she returned, I’d ask what happened.  She’d usually respond with, “Oh, I just dropped a little something off.”

Sometimes we’d have eggs.  Other times, we’d have vegetables from our garden or livestock.  On many occasions, she’d only take her purse inside. These moments were magical to me because the items disappeared with no explanation.  My mother returned to the car and said, “be willing to share with others. There is always someone worse off than you.”

Fast-forward twenty plus years.  My family stood around laughing and talking at my mother’s repast in the dining area of the Drummer’s Home, a local assisted-living facility.  In trying to process my mother’s death, I was comforted by people who came up to me sharing my mother’s good deeds. “Ms. Mattie saved my life with some money to keep my lights on,” said one woman.  I found out the eggs helped with another woman’s baking efforts. One by one, someone told me how my mom’s kindness bridged a gap that might have otherwise widened without her. 

It is those memories I cling to during the month of November now more than ever.  You see, I lost my mother on November 19, 1997, and my father on November 2, 2012.  My birthday is November 6.  It is easy to get choked up in the memory of my parents’ love for me.  I was tempted to have a good old-fashioned pity party on November 2, then I remembered the drive-bys.  Truly, there is someone worse off that I see every day. Someone who has never known the love of one or two parents; someone who hasn’t spoken to living relatives in years. Someone who is homeless. Someone who has a house but would rather be homeless because of the chaos and confusion that resides in their dwelling. Someone whose body is wracked with so much pain they’d welcome death in a heartbeat. So I straightened up my back. Took a good hot bath, “greased up” as mom would say, brushed my teeth, and thanked God, mom, and dad for all the memories.  The best way to honor their legacy is do my own drive-bys.  Some will be virtual. Others will be in the car my dad gifted me before he died. Secret deeds started by seeds planted in a green Chevy Impala.