As a little girl, I remember mami getting up before the sun did. She'd put on a suit, pin a brioche to her blazer and make an hour and a half commute, one-way, to a corporate job where she was outnumbered, overlooked and underappreciated.
She'd have meetings with a client where, almost always, they'd reach out to shake the hand of her male subordinates assuming she wasn't the boss. She was one of just a few women at her job in the logistical industry. And you could count employees of color on one hand.
Growing up, I watched her graduate from college with her B.S. in Business Administration and later with a Masters in Finance. All this she did after having my brother and I, while attending classes at night and on the weekends.
She didn't just get down to business. The woman knew how to give and anyone who knows her, knows she gives her all. She never allowed my brother and I to give any less than our best either. We didn't just work toward our own goals, we'd give to one another and gave to anyone in need.
For the holidays, we'd make two turkeys. One that we ate as a family and the other was served up into to-go plates to dsitribute to the hungry and homeless in Central Park, NY. At Christmas she'd spend her bonus buying up toys for the poor. My father would dress up as Santa and I'd be his elf. We'd give toys to the kids who lived in the projects who'd otherwise go without a Christmas.
Giving back was engrained in my brother and I. We knew no other way. We'd see our parents frequently go without so that others may have. I can't even fathom how many people her and my dad have helped over the years. Many who never so much as thanked them and still haven't. But that was never their motivation.
To say she is a friend is an understatement. This is a woman you could call at any time who spares judgement and showers people with love and care.
And her confidentiality goes without saying. She isn't just a secret-keeper, the woman is a steel trap! And don't we all need a friend like that?
The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:8-10, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms" (NIV). I think of my mother when I read this verse.
She loves hard and tends to love those who have wronged her even more deeply. She's been beaten, cheated, gossiped about, robbed, lied to, lied on, gone hungry, gone without, and more. But you'd never know it by the way she carries herself and still pours into others - some of the very people who've hurt her. When people think of her, they immediately picture a class-act. She reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in that way.
The epitome of diplomacy, she's forgiven some of the worst transgressions imaginable and restored relationships others would've quickly written off - me included. Her class and integrity don't lend to gossip and she'll drop to her knees, dead tired, before uttering a complaint. Ego aside, she's lent her unique skillset for all things business and finance to many a nonprofit and saved several that were, quite frankly, on the brink of going under. All for the sake of helping our community. Each one will admit, they're a better organization because of her efforts and can attest to her unwavering ethical character.
Her name is DIVA, her God-given name. In a world that tells women they'll never be enough, my mother never waited for anyone's permission. Many think the name made the woman but I can tell you, the woman made that name.
Her birthday is approaching and it has me reflecting on last year's festivities. We threw her a surprise Breakfast at Tiffany's themed Diva & Co. brunch to celebrate a milestone. The event was attended by 70+ of the most influential women in town. We literally had to keep the guest list to ladies-only after having trouble finding a room to accommodate everyone.
She's a mother, daughter, grandma, sister, aunt, colleague, mentor, friend and SHEro. She didn't just break glass ceilings - she DEMOLISHED them and brought along so many others with her.
With one look at mom I'm reminded that, as women especially, we need to LIFT each other up. Celebrate one another. And know that there's room for more than one. You can be a success and take someone with you. And if a sister's crown is tilted, "fix it without telling the world it's crooked."
As women, let's not allow that philosophy to fade away with the last generation. In a world that craves to see women be ratchet, choose to embody class.
Let's Discuss This:
- Who is that person in your life that lifts you up?
- How can you encourage and empower the women in your life?
- How can you better display integrity and class, even in difficult situations?