Thursday, December 01, 2005

Beautiful...Tangled Roots Prologue

Dr. Dionne Wainwright-Hathaway had barely made it out of the shower and comfortably into bed on that star-filled February night, when her seventeen-year-old daughter’s head suddenly appeared around the top left corner of her bedroom doorframe.

“Mama, I’m tired of writing about the same old people for black history month. I mean, what people like Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. did was great and all, but how many reports can one student write about them over their whole academic lifetime?” Miki complained as she brought the rest of her slender body into the doorway of her parents’ bedroom.

Miki was a senior in high school and had done countless black history reports on famous black people from A to Z over the last twelve years of her young life. She’d spent the last twelve days of this month trying to come up with the perfect subject but to no avail. And just today, she’d spent at least seven hours doing the same thing. Unfortunately, the rough draft of her black history report was due in two days and Miki had squat so far.

“Good evening to you, too,” Dionne inserted, reminding her daughter of the proper way to announce herself when entering someone else’s bedroom.

“Sorry. Good evening, Mama. How was work today?” Miki said as she entered the comfortable navy-blue and white decorated room more fully.

Dionne smiled at her daughter’s thoughtfulness. “Work was good, but tiring. Two cats had generous litters today and four different dogs were brought in with broken limbs from being hit by cars. What do people do, just let their animals play in the streets?” A hot flash of temper showed at the end, but the caring veterinarian quickly extinguished it as common sense prevailed. After all, accidents did happen and not all people were negligent of their pets. As a child, even she’d had a dog that kept popping his chain and jumping the family fence.

“But enough about me,” Dionne continued as she sat up in bed. “What’s this I hear about you not wanting to write about our African-American all-stars?”

“It’s not that I value them or their accomplishments any less, because I don’t. It’s just that I want to write about our unsung black heroes now. You know, those unforgettable people not found in the regular history books.” Dressed in a pair of long-sleeved, turquoise-colored, cotton Snoopy pajamas, Miki sauntered her way over to her parents’ cherry-wood sleigh bed.

“Hmmm…I think we have some of those in our very own family tree,” Dionne said thoughtfully as she went over to the handcrafted family chest that she’d inherited when her father died last year. The same walnut chest that contained love letters, marriage licenses, birth certificates, photos and other important documents that had been passed down from generation to generation.

“We do? How come I’m just now hearing about this?” Miki sat down beside her mother at the foot of the bed where the chest was located.

“In all honesty, I’d forgotten about it until I started looking through Daddy’s chest earlier this week. The things I found in there backed up all the stories I’d been told about two of our ancestors. In fact, in my opinion, Edric and Eve Wainwright’s tale is the second greatest love story in all the world.”

“What’s the first?” Miki asked, looking curiously over her mother’s shoulder as she retrieved various items from the chest.

“Thought you’d never ask. God’s love for mankind, of course.” Dionne looked up and smiled into her daughter’s unique blue-green eyes. Those aqua pools were a Wainwright family trademark. Even though the shades of skin tones varied over the years from very fair all the way to deep chocolate mocha, that distinctive eye color did not.

Miki chuckled. “Of course. How could I ever forget that?” she said,. reminded of the fact that hHer father was a minister who usually preached that powerful ‘Greatest Love’ message at least once a year around Valentine’s Day.

Dionne laughed and playfully nudged her daughter’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell your father. By the way, he’s coming back in town tomorrow around noon since his uncle is doing so much better now.” Then she went back to retrieving items from the family chest in order to have visual aids when she finally told her story.

“Thank God,” Miki replied., She was grateful that their prayers had been answered concerning her Uncle Jarreau. Then seeing a photo that caught her eye, she picked it up and studied it.

Resting in Miki’s manicured hands was a black and white photo that contained the image of a handsome white man and a beautiful black woman. The dark-haired man looked almost exactly like Orlando Bloom of Lord of the Rings trilogy and Troy. The African-American woman in the picture looked a lot like the R&B singer/hip-hop princess Ashanti. Now Miki was really intrigued.

“So tell me, Mama. What’s so special about Edric and Eve Wainwright that would make them both unsung heroes? That would put them in the category of unforgettable people?” the seventeen-year-old asked.

“Thought you’d never ask that, either, sweetie,” Dionne replied, putting a stack of letters in the lap of her royal-blue satin nightgown. “Edric and Eve’s story is special for many reasons. One is the fact that God performed many miracles on their behalf. The second is the fact that Edric was a slaveholder and Eve was his slave.”

“What?! Oh, I really can’t wait to hear this story now,” Miki said with wide, eager eyes.
(c) 2005 Suprina Frazier

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