What You Need to Know:

Sometimes, I wonder if my mom was taught to work hard and take care of everyone…is this her personality…or both?

So I asked her. “Maybe I got that from Mother. That’s what all the women I knew, did. Take care of everybody. It was just natural. One of my philosophies is, ‘If it’s gonna be, it’s up to me.'”

Born in Fort Smith, AR, Mary Magdalene (yes, named straight from the Bible) is the middle child of three brothers and three sisters. Her mother, Gracie Mae, took care of her father, Samuel David, who suffered about five strokes and was paralyzed on one side as a result. He passed away when my mom was 8 years old. “Mother took great care of him and I always said I wanted to take care of people like she took care of my dad.”

And that’s what she did.

“It seems like I was the only one keeping everyone together. When mother needed things done, she asked me. Taking care of the house, paying bills, it was me.”

My mom worked two jobs as a high school student, graduated, and became a burn technician, treating victims of chemical, fire, and road burns in Tulsa, OK.

After marrying, having my sister Tracie, and divorcing a few years later, Mom moved to San Bernardino, CA where she worked as a caretaker at a nursing home. She met my dad, married a year later, then had me shortly after finishing school again.

Even though she worked, I mostly remember Mom being present and taking care of us. “Your dad would help after work and cook dinner when he could and that was a big help.”

My parents divorced when I was 12, and it severely affected our finances. I remember her working two jobs while maintaining a roof over our head (literally). While stylish. EVERY DAY. For as long as I can remember.

“You gotta look halfway right. You never know who’s going to show up,” my mom says.

At 12, I started working like my mother. I feel like I’m just getting the hang of the ”while stylish” part. Everyone claims to be a Barbie because of their fashion sense, but my philosophy is: “If you didn’t work multiple careers while looking good like my mom did, then you ain’t no Barbie.”