I had gone to the convention center bright and early that morning to get my badge, look around, peek into some sessions, and then I had to leave to go to class. After class, I had every intention of going back to the conference, but my body was like… nope. I had been feeling terrible several days prior, and that day was the height of blah. It wasn’t a cold – no cough or anything – just feeling generally awful.
I decided to go home and rest a bit, while constantly refreshing my inbox to see if the authorization had come through to cover the event. Nothing. Refresh. Nothing. Refresh. Nada. Refresh. Nope.
When the time came for press check in, I just went for it. I threw some makeup on my face to counteract the whole “zombie-mom” look I had going on, got my camera, dragged myself to the minivan, and headed to downtown DC. I said you know what? This is a huge event, what if they just didn’t have time to send out approvals – it happens. I parked at the convention center and walked about ¾ of a mile to the venue. Now… I told you I felt like $#%t right? Right. So by the time I got there? I felt like that, but warmed over.
I texted my husband that if I wasn’t approved I’d be home shortly. I wasn’t mad. I was just over everything. Walking… standing… keeping my eyes open…. It was only 6, but yes. Over it. I signed in and started to pray. There were a lot of people there, and everyone was decked out with big fancy cameras with amazing lenses and flashes that would no doubt get the best photos. I looked at my little old camera bag… *shrug* To pooped to be envious.
I texted my husband again, that I would be totally fine with not getting in and honestly I needed him to come get me before I passed out. Then I text:
Here and signed in, but as usual, never a guarantee with a small outlet. Pray for me… to either get in and be fine til 10 or be turned away and get rest… His will be done…
Right after I sent that text, the CEO of the PR company says, “Who has signed in and is taking still photos?” I raised my hand. She tapped six of us to be escorted upstairs. His will. Done.
When I got upstairs, there were a few photographers already up there, so I promptly began eavesdropping. Associated Press. TV One. What was I doing here? God knew. Someone says, “don’t lock your knees… I don’t do mouth to mouth.” I felt like that was meant for me. I unlocked my knees and started listening to instructions. “No flash for Ms. Tyson.” Um. Wha? You see this little camera? Ok. This is going badly… I see it coming. Everyone with their fancy flashes and lenses groaned, and chatter about “fixing it in post” started circulating. So there we were… all on even footing when it came to photographing Ms. Tyson.
Celebrities rolled through on the red carpet… Roland Martin, Chadwick Boseman, Malinda Williams, Dionne Warwick, Richard Roundtree, and finally… the woman I had been idolizing since Bustin’ Loose (yeah, it was rated R… the 80’s were a different time), Academy and Golden Globe Award nominated, Emmy award and Tony Award winning actress, model, and humanitarian, and Caribbean American royalty born in America of Nevisian parents processed through Ellis Island, Cicely Tyson. *faints*
I did my best not to go full fan girl, but well. I did. Not on her or anything – I do have some sort of decorum – but I did squeal a little on Facebook and Twitter. Listen. That woman… she is just gorgeous. Those pics you see of her online? Not airbrushed. Face? Flawless. Legs? Flawless. Voice? Unwavering.
She was in heels. Real heels – not kitten heels… not wedges… real heels. I looked down at my own aching feet in flats and thought about the fact that she is 91. What is my excuse. I have none. I mean, I’m no superstar or anything, but if she can get fly and come out to bless the people at 91, more than twice my age, I could at least try.
A couple of people didn’t get the memo on the flash, but other than that? Silence. People were in awe and I don’t blame them. She was just gorgeous. The thirty seconds she gave us? Felt like a glorious eternity. Just radiant. After she left? So did just about everyone else. We all filed into the theater, and then I found out why I was there. When you say, “thy will be done,” you better mean it. He’s gonna give it to you.
So whenever I fill out a media request, I try to put myself into the mind of the person approving such requests…. “Caribbean Parenting Blogger” what on earth does THAT have to do with THIS?
Then moments like this happen, and you try not to fall out or jump up and shout…
If you skipped the video – which is fine, I’ve watched it enough times for all of us – Cicely Tyson talked about her Caribbean mom… WITH the accent. I could not. I cannot. I am still not over it.
The whole point of this blog is for those of us who are Caribbean moms, Caribbean American moms, folks who have Caribbean moms, aunties, and grandmothers, to talk about our shared experiences. His will was done. I was there to bring you this… to show you that this woman, who has lived and continues to live the most amazing celebrity life, is still is still forever impacted by her Caribbean mom.
This was pretty much it for me when it came to being physically present at the conference. My husband came to pick me up to drive me to the car, and that was all she wrote. I did live tweet from the event and retweeted some great information, so make sure you check out the hashtag #CBCFALC16 on Twitter.
Cicely Tyson’s Speech about Her Caribbean Mother:
I’ve lost my entire family. I’ve lost my father, my mother, my sister, my brother. It’s interesting to me because I was the frailest of the three children. Not supposed to survive after three years. And I wondered a lot over the fact that my mother… just drove me crazy. Because I could not move without her saying, “don’t do that, don’t do this, don’t do the other, don’t go there…” I was always the one…. The minute she said “don’t” that was my cue to “do.” And so I was the bane of her entire existence. I was always breaking this, that, or the other. I got to the point where I began to think that my mother was an absolute witch.
Because she said to me – I had the chicken pox – I remember this so well… I had the chicken pox and I had just gotten over it, and I was going back to school for the first time. As I opened the door to exit, she said, [in accent] “You. Come Here. When you go down de steps, hold ahn to de bannistah.” I’m looking at this woman like she’s stark raving mad. I don’t have to hold on to no bannister… I know how to go down the steps. Well. I didn’t hold onto the bannister, and I ended [up] down on the floor… And every time she would say something to me like that, it would happen.
My mother told all three of us – I had a brother and a sister – that one day she was walking down the street, pushing me in a baby carriage, and a woman stopped her and said, “take care of that child… she has a sixth sense.”
“She’s going to make you very proud one day, and she’s going to take care of you in your old age.”
When I lost my mother, it was as if I had lost my right arm… although we could not get along. She swears I was like my father, I could see me in her. And so, when I lost her, I understood for the first time what amputees meant when they said that even though they lost a limb, they felt as though it was still there. And that’s how I felt when I lost my mother. My sister said to me one day, she said, “I don’t know why you’re grieving so I don’t know if mama ever told you this, but she sure told me a lot,” and she repeated the story. And she said to me, “you have done all that, so what more can you do?”
I simply said, “I don’t think that I could have done enough…”