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By Lucky Colter

Sixteen and having a baby, my father is rolling over in his grave.

I wish I could say life has been sunshine, flowers and roses for this teenager conversely, it has been more like jumping over hurdles, climbing fences and extinguishing fires. Is it normal to experience several traumatic events before you are old enough to purchase alcohol? Oh well, normal or not it is my story.

Summer 1991 my mother was finally able to pack up all of her eight children and move out of her sister’s house. It has not always been this way. You see, tragedy has a way of ruining things. April of that year my father was shot and hospitalized. After a few months of being in a coma and on a ventilator his body surrendered to his illness. Although it is eight of us, my oldest sister suffered from what would be different from the rest. Our dad died the day before her 16th birthday on June 13th, 1991. Prior to this we were very much settled and well taken care of.

I come from a time when men would work three odd jobs to take care of their family if they had to. My dad was one of those men, he was a truck driver, mechanic, delivery guy and whatever else in between. My dad spoiled his girls and made his boys tuff as leather. He was not perfect; he had his issues too, between the drugs and the women his plate was full. My mom did go to school at times, but her priority was keeping house. The earliest memory I have of her I could not have been older than five, she sat me on the counter top in the kitchen and I watched in amazement as she did her usual. She was preparing dinner, putting clothes in the washing machine, talking to her sister on the phone and still had the skill to answer my random questions. She multitasked often; the only time she was doing one thing at a time was when she walked out the door to go to church.

One Sunday morning was extra special, my dad bought her a new living room furniture set as their wedding anniversary gift and she was so happy that day. The outfit she had on will forever be etched in my mind, a grey poodle dress with white design, white collar, black patent leather belt that looked as if it covered most of her torso but the shoes were the icing on the cake for me. They were black patent leather stiletto heels with three cut out spaces on the back of the heels…man she looked amazing.

Our family had enough issues, yet our mother taught us very early on the importance of family. Sticking together no matter what was happening around us. Any time we would get mad at each other or fought with each other she would say, “After you guys finish you will have to deal with me “insinuating her lashing was far worse then what we were doing to each other. This one was my favorite “when you go out side after you deal with the issue amongst each other; if anyone would try to hurt your brother or sister you form as one”. We learned to defend each other at all cost and in private teach each other right from wrong. We learned to hold each other accountable for our actions to this day, and our behavior reflects all things our mother instilled in us.

Tragedy struck in April of 1991, as I mentioned my dad was no stranger to the street life and that came with its own problems. Apparently, he had dealings with some dangerous people who not only drove him to a desolate place, but beat him when he managed to escape from the car to make a run for it; he was shot in the head. Witnesses say even after he was shot, he continued to run for some time before he lost consciousness and fell to the ground. The nightmare did not end there. These men who tried to take my fathers life were even more pissed that he did not die so they sent word that they will go after something he treasured, and that something was me. As soon as my mother got word that they had made threats to hurt me she called her brothers. I learned later on that my dad considered me his pride and joy I was shocked because he gave my oldest and youngest sister so much more attention which allowed more time for me to spend with my mother. Truth be told my mother and I had a very special bond. These set of gangsters clearly did not think things through, you just shot this women’s husband and now you are threatening to hurt her child. if you ever want to see what a woman is made of, come for her children and you will surely see.

Shortly after all the whispers traveled throughout the house my mom had us pack a bag and we waited for what seemed like forever. When she called our names we jumped up and moved swiftly toward the front door. We were moving at the same level of intensity that took over the energy wandering throughout the house. As we stood near the front door, I noticed my uncle (my mothers’ brother) standing near the door. We loaded the elevator and walked hastily out of the building towards my dad’s Buick. immediately I notice another uncle standing in front of the building. what made him stand out like a sore thumb was his trench coat I could not understand why he was wearing a coat in April. I remember it being physically uncomfortable in the Buick Cutlass lol. Can you imagine six people in the back seat? Well, I guess when you are leaving in a hurry anything goes. Next stop was her sister’s apartment that just so happens to be in one of the most dangerous housing projects in Brooklyn!

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