I grew up on top of a mountain in Tennessee. The twisting road peaked at our humble home. I’d sit on skinned knees and make mud pies until the sun began to nestle into the valley below. It was the two of us against the world of poverty and statistical prophecy. She was a teen mom and I was a daughter, but also like the little sister she never had. I’d gather blades of grass and meticulously decorate each pie with words like ‘love’ and ‘mom’. It was beyond my understanding at the time, but we were poor. Loose change would collect beneath the seats of our old car and I would dig coins out and count them so that we could fill the tank.
One restless summer night the heat formed such a thick cloud around us that we couldn’t sleep. Rain began to leak through the ceiling and she lit a candle and dressed me in the dim light. Our electricity had been off for some time. We ran through the rain and got into the car. I wrestled with my seatbelt and we listened to The Beatles, Dianna Ross, and Queen on the crackling radio all the way to McDonald’s. We shared a four count order of chicken nuggets and a small Pepsi. The storm clouds cleared away and I watched the stars as we went up the winding road back home. That night I snuggled her tightly and it didn’t make a bit of difference to me that the house was hot or that I couldn’t remember what my father’s hugs felt like. The essence of him had worn off long ago.
That summer the church we attended gave me a bicycle. There was a plastic compartment on the handlebars that I kept my rock collection in. Beneath those rocks rested little notes that Mama would write me or notes that I would write myself.
“I love you. Love, Mama”
“xoxo. Love, Mama”
Then, small tokens from myself. “I love you.” “Mama loves you.”
The smell of honeysuckle would gently caress my face as I rode that bicycle all day. Sunshine poured into my heart and I was not a victim of poverty, but rather a believer of hope.
Little Hope Notes may be a small initiative, but my prayer is that you may find these notes and tuck them away safely inside of your heart. May they remind you of what you have rather than what you lack.