“I stay within walking distance. I can walk back and forth to the garden. I’ve been in the West End since 1970. In the 70’s, I lived right off of Broadway. There was a lot of factories in the 70’s. As the factories left, throughout the years, the people did, too. The West End is a nice location. The people and my church have kept me in this area. It’s pretty much a well-knit group. Where I live, everybody knows everybody. It’s a lot of potential, here, if people just gave it a chance and stayed in their area, instead of leaving. I’d like to see a lot more black businesses in the West End and keep the money circulating to build up the community.
A lot of hard work went into this garden. It’s a community garden. Gardening was something that was handed down. My mother’s from Mississippi. She handed gardening down to us. We had a garden every year. She grew peanuts. I grow peanuts, in memory of her.
The happiest moments of my life was spending the last 6 months with my mother before she passed. You know, you think you know your parents but you don’t really know them until you spend every moment with them. I found out things that she liked to do. I learned that she was a White Sox fan. As children, you don’t take the time to get to know your parents because they’re so busy working and getting you through school. The last 6 months of her life was the best time that we spent together. She wasn’t just my mother, she became my best friend. That was precious to me. Those are memories that I’ll always have. I didn’t have a chance to take her to a White Sox game but I did take her to see the Louisville Bats. She really enjoyed that.
Family’s important. My mother was down there, in the South, when Katrina came through. She was down there without electricity for 2 weeks. I was trying my best to get down there. I was able to get off work and have my family from the north meet me here. We had 3 vehicles. One vehicle was carrying gasoline cans. One was carrying supplies, like paper towels and cleaning stuff. Then, we had one that had a generator. Everybody had SUVs, going down to Mississippi. We also had saws with us because we had to cut our way through, to get to my mother. The best moment for her was when she seen us coming with all of our supplies. I had to get there fast because I wanted to file her insurance and she didn’t have electricity and all I had was my cell phone.
Knowing that she was down there, alone, it made me feel like she scared and stranded. She didn’t have any hope. She lost all of her food and everything. She was by herself. She ended up getting food from the army. When we got there, tears was flowing down her face. I was just thankful to God that I was able to get to her.
Don’t take life for granted. Spend as much time, as you can, with your family. Always put first in everything you do.” - Melody, Shawnee