By : Tiffany Lott Stevenson
Mother’s Day for me as a child was by far my favorite holiday. It was the day I got to honor the one who made everyday a holiday; Easter and Christmas were dreams come true for the children and grandchildren of Ida Mae (Marsh) Lott “ Madea”. Madea is short for Mother Dear. I loved my mother dearly and looked forward to making Dandelion bouquets , painting rocks, drawing pictures , writing poetry inside Mother’s Day card all for Madea. One of Madea’s favorites and mines too was a bouquet of flowers I made at school using: yellow, green, blue, pink and white styrofoam egg cartons , colorful pipe cleaners , tissue paper and spiced gumdrops. Before I got off my school bus the Friday before Mother’s Day all the gumdrops would be gone; the green and white ones were my favorite. Madea did not mind the candy was gone , because the love was still there. I wrote poems thanking Madea for combing my hair, cooking good food and teaching me to share. Madea died when I was eleven years old. Mother’s Day for me became dark and cold. I had no one to share my Mother’s Day love ; my mother was with God watching from above. My daddy was both parents for me while most of my friends were being raised by single Black mamas or grandmothers alone; all I had was a daddy at home. One day my daddy said to me, “ I am your daddy and your mother now!” We both laughed, in our community we would often hear, “ I’m yo mama and yo daddy! “, from single mothers. This is when my daddy knew I needed a mother figure and he could use all the help he could get with his teenage daughter. On November 24, 1984 my daddy Jacob Alexander Lott married Betty Dean ( Rockette) Jones.
When I look back on the faith of my grandmother Idell Marsh, who lived to be ninety-eight years old; that faith lived in Ida Mae Lott. I am very sure that faith also lives in my children: Symphony, Daimeon Jr, Oscar, Tyrek , JaCoby Ida, Tyler Jordan, Lilly Idell and Christany Semaj.
I did not know what to expect from my step-mother. I read stories all having evil step mothers like in Snow White or Cinderella, those were fairy-tales. The voices in my head were very real,
“ That Is Not Your Mother! “ ,“Your Mother Is Dead!” ,“ She is Your Daddy’s Wife Not Madea!”
“ Betty Could Never Take Madea’s Place!” “ Betty is Not Your Mother!”.
Ma Betty displayed that same faith that Madea and Big Mama Idell Marsh aka Miss Book had shared with me. How could I tell my family I prayed and asked God to send me a new Mother? Ma Betty was and still is a very sweet Christian woman who loves and fears the Lord. This woman of God opened her heart to a widower with thirteen children and numerous grandchildren despite how her family and friends felt about it. Ma Betty had a son Timothy who died when he was a baby. Timothy is buried next my sister Helen who was stillborn a few years before I was born. Some said Daddy and Ma Betty was a match made in heaven.
Ma Betty was not trying to take Madea’s place , but she wanted me to know she would be here for me as a mother and she would care for me as if I was her own child. Life was not easy for Ma Betty or Daddy with me being a teenager and those voices in my head. I was still fourteen years old when I ran away from home. I found a large thick stick and hid it under my bed.The next day I got a white pillowcase stuffed it with my favorite dress , a few outfits and my church shoes I tied it to my stick locked the door and headed to Kenosha. It was not because of Ma Betty, unlike the step mothers I read about Ma Betty was filled with God’s love. Ma Betty was and still is the best stepmother anyone could ask for. My daddy wanted so much to impress new wife , he was hurting his baby girl . Daddy wanted that broken little girl to be perfect. Daddy would often remind me that I had more dresses, shoes and clothes than any other girl in our neighborhood. I had two parents that loved me, but I did not feel that love my daddy talked about. I felt I was in the same company of a sinner who did not know Jesus, nor did they want to experience the love of Jesus Christ. When Sister Semone Love asked me to write this article; I prayed and asked God ,” What should I write?” . God’s reply for me came from Psalm 107:2 “ Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story ...those he redeemed from the foe.”
I am going to tell you about how Mother’s Day would not be the same without Ida Mae, Jacob and Betty Lott to honor or celebrate. I want you to know how I now rejoice in this day that the Lord has made ( Ephesians 6:1).
My biological mother Ida Mae was a beautiful daughter inside and out , a supportive sister, an amazing auntie, a faithful wife who married and loved her husband, Jacob, until her death. She was the world’s greatest mother, just ask her children: Lula, Freddie, Steve, Greg, Willie, Valeria, Renee, Tammy, Tonette, Perry or Janice. I am sure if Vernon and Helen were here with us they too would agree. This phenomenal woman was more than an Eastern Star, a baker, a cook, a singer, so much more than a baby sitter, Madea was a child care provider for many families, my first teacher. Ida Mae was the lady in the red dress, she was my mother. Would you like to know what made her the best? She read books and nursery rhymes to me when I was a little girl, these books helped to shape my world. Madea would go to bingo and play pitty-pat. Madea hosted many family nights how about that? We’d play charades and thinking of a color, we prayed together and really loved each other. Madea sang in a thousand voice choir and many others. Madea was a role model for young and old mothers. She was the woman who fed you when you did not have any food. She taught her children to love , respect others and not be rude , to treat people how we want to be treated. Madea fixed breakfast daily along with other chores like hanging clothes on the line, I could go on forever telling about this mother of mine, but she died and went to heaven.
Jacob is my mama and I am only eleven. I still called him Daddy it sounded like (Did-dee) and did he do an awesome job with his family when his wife died, he could never be my mother, God knows he tired. One morning for breakfast he set two bowls on the table crumbled up some cornbread and poured in buttermilk. I spit it out my funny face made him laugh. I wanted so much to be like my daddy, I made another bowl of crumbled cornbread using whole milk. I was told when I was about three years old I stood in the door while daddy shaved and when he left out of the bathroom I took daddy’s razor and cut off a pig tale. I received many whoopings growing up, but I never got whooped for the same thing twice. (Proverbs 13:24)
I learned my lesson each and every time!
Looking back on my childhood, today I now know why God gave me Jacob to be my earthly father. The name Jacob means to supersede and replace or to override. It was not until my daddy died that I knew Jacob Alexander Lott was truly created in God’s Image and God was with me all ways (Isaiah 41:10 , Numbers 23:19). I thank God every Mother’s Day for my daddy; just as much my friends honor their single moms, grandmothers or themselves on Father’s Day. My daddy was the one who taught me to pray. Jacob was a good son who grew up to be a good man, with only an eighth grade education Jacob was inducted into the United States Army serving in WWII. Jacob was a supportive sibling , a provider and protector of his family. He loved and stayed married to his wife Ida Mae until her death. Jacob was a man who demanded the respect of his children and grandchildren not for himself only but for his wife and the elderly also. I heard my brother complain that daddy never played catch with him, but he had five brother and he play baseball. Daddy did not bake my sister a chocolate cake for her birthday and that made me cry to hear her talk about my daddy. I loved him so to me Daddy was more than a mason, a barber, a janitor, a candidate for alderman, a co-founder of the George Bray Neighborhood. Jacob Lott was a hard fighting soldier in the Lord’s army. My daddy was the wind beneath my wings; as time flew Betty Lott would soon be the third mother. Jacob’s job of being mama was through and God blessed me with someone new. Ma Betty was my step mother and yes like the fairy tales I had two step sisters Edna & Sandra my step brother was Edna’s twin. I am a firm believer that love is an action word as I stated in my book White Teacher Black Mama. Ma Betty through love taught me how to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Ma Betty took a two bedroom apartment and turned it into a home. Ma Betty worked at the hospital as a housekeeper, she kept it clean and unlike the fairy tales my step mother was never mean. I do not think she has a mean bone in her body. When daddy would yell or whoop me she’d say “ Don’t be so hard on her Lottie”. Edna lived with us she had a little son, she was the best step sister we had so much fun. Ma Betty’s sister Eula lived across the hall , every Saturday we chilled at the mall. I was very sad when Ma Betty told Edna she had to get her own place, because I was a teenage girl who needed her own space. I did not want my Edna to go, it was God’s plan (Jeremiah 29:11 ). Edna was leaving her mother’s home and once again I felt alone. The voices did not want me to love this woman of God. Ma Betty made it very hard for me not to love her. This woman was God sent and with God’s help I stayed away from the voices and drew closer to another phenomenal woman, Ma Betty. My Grandmother Madea’s mom knew most of Betty’s sisters from church grandma loved Aunt Eula , Dorothy and Ruby and they loved and called her Mama (Titus 2: 4-5). We worshiped God daily not just on Sunday. Ma Betty showed me how to love and treat for a good man watching Betty care for my daddy was priceless. I remember asking Ma Betty how could she grease those crusty toes; as she went between each one. Then she oiled his head. I did not the any man deserve that type of treatment. I will never forget Ma Betty telling me, “Tiff, when you fall in love and get a husband this would come naturally.” I remember earlier in my marriage I told Dewayne you did not marry Betty Lott , I am Tiffany Lott and when I left my daddy’s house I left the iron and the iron board there, I don’t do heads or toes. I have been married for along time, I do not do Dewayne’s feet , but I sit and watch the podiatrist cut his ingrown toenails , I will oil his scalp. Ma Betty with God’s help, Ida Mae’s love and Jacob’s rules turned this broken vessel into a steward of the Lord, I am an amazing wife , an awesome mother of eight children , I have two step daughters . I am a queen who uplifts other queens and I want to wrap this up with a nursery rhyme I learned as a child and shared with my children, Humpty Dumpty, think about it Humpty had a great fall , all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. It took the King to put Humpty together again. Only King Jesus could heal my broken heart and if you are broken this Mother’s day for whatever reason allow Jesus to fix you.