I later learned that this came about because Melba believes in family staying together at all cost. She took the Law siblings in when they lost their mother and Melba said the only way to keep the kids together was for her to raise them as her own, and she did.
As one would approach the house on the corner, bodies were hanging out of the windows while Cheryl would be standing in the back door doing her favorite thing, talking on the phone. It was a few weeks before I met Melba because she was always doing domestic work for a doctor to help care for her family. She encouraged Marvin to buy another four bedroom home just one block from Flores and converted the two car garage into a bedroom for the boys. She knew what she was doing because this home became the hangout for all of their friends in the neighborhood known as 20th Street. She never had to worry where her family was because they had the city there. Observing her I learned that i f you want to know your kids’ friends have a home that is friendly for your kids and their friends to hang out.
I later married Cheryl and it was Melba that gave us the twenty five dollars for the closing cost to purchase our home on California Street, where our oldest daughter now lives. Melba was also quite the political activist. Many of the contacts I now enjoy grew out of her introducing me to them in the sixties. She was a member of a Los Angeles Democratic club led by William “Bill” Collier. She introduced me to Tom Bradley, Maxine Waters (a friendship that is still giving), Margarite Archie, Diane Watson, and even the writer, James Baldwin. You talk about a gift that keeps on giving this is one. Melba was also great with kids, her favorite gift. As a Head Start teacher she never met a kid she didn’t love, as a matter of fact, she never met a stranger she didn’t like. She would offer them a place to stay in her home i f they needed i t. She got a daughter-in-law that way.
Her love for kids pushed her to drive from Los Angeles to the University of Redlands twice a week to earn her degree in Early Childhood Education. Not bad for a lady in her fifties with grandchildren.
As a grandmother, one of the things I remember most is when the kids heard that she was coming to the house, they would say keep grandma out of our rooms. Grandma would take clothes out of the drawers and closets, dump most of them on the bed and wash some and then go home. Lynn Renee and Paulette would have to put everything back. Melba knew the importance of family so every Thanksgiving she would make us drive into Los Angeles for dinner and later it turned into a must do event for extended family as well . She would never let us begin eating without prayer and scripture being read. Her faith was stronger than people realized. She told me one day faith in God is something you have to live and not talk about. One thing I like about the dinner were the bread rolls and sweet potatoes with marshmallows. She made them especially for me. And, at Christmas she would make her son Dexter drive her to our house with many bags of gifts for everyone. It was as though she saved all year just for this one day. Kids would be opening gifts days after Christmas was gone.
Since she has been living with us I have had some time to spend with her alone and she was always telling me, “Hardy buy as much land as you can. ” She grew up in Georgia when Blacks would be thrown off as sharecroppers and she did not want that to happen to us. I al so found out that she loves music, blues, gospel , jazz, classical so during the days at the office we listened to music al l day.
She is good therapy for me and always encouraged me to keep on pushing forward in the business and I love her for that. She would say lets go to the office. I guess i t was therapy for her as well. Even in her sickness she is still teaching us a lesson in faith and hope. She was put in Hospice Care back in October and removed in February started eating and talking. However God is calling her home now but she still responds to voices. I have found Melba to be to me the portrait of a virtuous woman. Proverbs 31:10-31 (King James Version): Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil . She will do him good and not evil all the day s of her life. She seeketh wool , and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is y et night , and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buy eth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night . She lay eth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the di staff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; y ea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for al l her household are clothed with scarlet . She maketh herself coverings of tapestry ; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and sell - eth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant . Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh wel l to the way s of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and cal l her bles sed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all . Favour is deceitful , and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
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