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Do not pass me by: Memories of NOLA church service with My Momo

While I was saying my prayers for tonight, this song seem to flow out of my mouth with no thought, the words just overcame me. It felt as if I slipped back into my 8yr old self sitting in the congregation of Mt.Rock Church with my eyes fixated on my Momo as she waved her hands in the air as Reverend Smith’s shaky but booming voice sang and preached the alter call “Savior do not pass me by, come take His hand, Hear my humble cry, He hear ya, He see ya cry, Savior I’m calling you, Savior!” As someone would find the strength to give their life over over to God and turn from their backsliding ways, I can here the sweet soft shouts of a mother or grandmother, praising, crying, happy that her child found his or her way back to church, she didn’t even know her adult child had snuck in while service was going and sat on the back pew.

Unable to contain the flood of emotions, she starts shouting “thank ya Lord” and it was as if it was Momo’s cue to come down off the pulpit, with hand fan and a beautiful scarf to cover the lady with just in case she fell to to floor, but usually this song wld just hv them shouting, throwing their head back, hands always clasps, tears running down their faces. Momo wld hold their head up fanning them, she’s sanging the song to them in a soft whisper, calming the mother down just in time for her to witness the oily cross on their forehead and tears rolling down their faces. It was as if Kleenex didn’t make it to these souls fast enough or the tears were needed for some sort of spiritual cleansing. At the close of the prayer, Momo’s job was done, she would make it back to the pulpit and let out a “Yes,Lord, Yes Lord” no one sprinted to her though.

At the end of church me and my sister would wait right there for her and the ladies would say “Sister Tee, you have some good grandgirls” and she would say ” Yes, chyld” she would let us go wait by the tracks were her car was parked and we would look for rocks that had diamonds in them, with rocks in hand we got in her Buick, droved through the caved in crater filled streets Hollygrove, it’s like she knew where each bump and hole was and always avoided them. It was like if it wasn’t a hole to dodge it was someone waving her down before the car was in front of them, they loved her, like the whole neighborhood knew and loved my Momo, she wld make brief lil stops to say how God showed up in church. We never complained, because we was Ms.Tee grandchildren, special, smart and favored. We had to be, because every one who saw us with her told her and she would tell certain people that we was just that. Before we went to her house, We always stopped in A&P for either Butter Pecan, Black Walnut, Cherry Vanilla or Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream and either pie or cake to have with whatever she cooked before church….

I’m so happy to have had her in my life, she was a great role model which is why I get on my knees to pray. Its only because of her influence that I know God has heard my humble cry and He not only passed by, He took a seat and had a meeting with me. When ya hv a praying Grandmother, prayer Great Grandmother and the Greats before that those prayers have no choice but to manifest throughout the generations. 💞

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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