My Mom and I sat and had a real conversation. She told me if it weren’t for her Mom and Dad moving her and her siblings out of New York…she would have probably been dead. She retold her stories of the project wars, the strung out druggies and alcoholics blanketing the stairways and hallway floors in her apartment building…even her unsavory peer connections. I learned from my Momma, how to carry a blade in my mouth, never with the intention of me doing it, but that was a part of her survival and a part of her story. Dealing with a lot of bullying, she resorted to what she knew and was taught in her world, as self-defense. Her greatest lesson was respect and self-respect. Growing up in New York she learned how to respect others…the addicts, the bodega workers, the church mothers, the Puerto Ricans, the Jews, the blacks, whites, in betweens, etc. All in such contrast of one another…but human beings none the less. She understood too well, what bullying does to people and also how self-respect and defense keeps the oppressor in line. She was quiet, yet could become a weapon towards her enemies within moments. Her attitude in life is the same, where she is now. She has a gentleness about her because she is a Mother and Grandma, but she owns every sittuation that she walks into. I am my Mother’s daughter.