I’m a short 24 hours and 45 minutes shy of my 32nd birthday and it dawned on me, that I don’t tell you this often; but you are my greatest inspiration. Watching you heal, grow, and evolve each day has been my truest joy.

I’m not yet married nor have I given you grandchildren—but you have raised me into a man who cannot wait to follow that path. The example you’ve set has been one of unbreakable love. And I know that when that time comes, I am more than equip to be a parent that guides with empathy and compassion, humor and courage.

You always say to me how smart and special I am, how nobody uses words like I do, that I’m so kind and God will always bless me. But in reality, these are character traits and efforts I continue to learn from you—and nobody else!

I never, not once, wanted another mom or wondered how other women loved. I always knew what I had was untouchable!

I remember when you came to my class in the 3rd grade for Career Day and the way you loved all the other snotty-nosed kids with the same patience and grace I so abundantly received at home—To me you were a Saint in Hospital scrubs, a Saint I could so happily share with my schoolmates for the day, like a wonderful piece of BLACK art on loan to a museum.

Growing up, I felt honored to have a mom who—although she sacrificed herself too often for others—she was unmatched in her ability to love and accept everyone around her. Your entire life, God has used you to bring smiles and fulfillment to those in need. You fed those who were hungry and you cared for the sick, wounded and spiritually broken; even my friends know it. 19 years later—You should hear Lewis’ story of the first time him and his lovely Mother, you and myself all hung out at the movies. You bought a little boy popcorn when he had fallen and spilled his after his parents refused, how in that moment he [Lewis] realized how loving you were. [SIDENOTE: I seem to remember you always making me sneak fruit into the movies and NEVER buying ME the popcorn I’d so ardently beg and whine for because it was “too salty,” but we can discuss that on January 1st 2020 😎] That—those action(s) leave an impact.

You are the reason for so many peoples’ sense of stability, and think about all those you’ve had a hand in bringing to this country from Liberia during the height of the civil war; the friends you’ve loved and cared for, then and now! Our entire family in Africa, you support. And how many of my people did you allow to live with us when they were put out or ostracized by their own parents—too many.

Need I even mention the love and light all your old colleagues and co-workers remember you for? The stories they share bring a smile to my heart. Not because I need to hear them, but because they stand as confirmation that you are the same phenomenal women out in the world that you are when its just me and you.

Your unwavering support for the people blessed to know you should always remind you that God isn’t above, but within—within every aspect of your being! You will always be blessed and I will always be your baby.

You’re badass, freely and uncontainably funny, welcoming, curious, pleasant, brilliant, AND THE BEST COOK ANYWHERE—this is a fact you’re rightfully aware of. Even now with your left arm paralyzed, how you’re cooking Palm-Butter, Casava Leaf, Fufu, GB, Palava Sauce, Tobaqui, Jollof Rice, Rice Bread, Dry Rice, spaghetti and the rest to a degree far superior to what was already an exceptional culinary aptitude is, quite frankly, beyond me (Or inside me, since mine is the gut that gets to eat it all!)—nobody can challenge you. You ruined me. I REFUSE to eat Liberian dishes made by another. No, thank you! Your turkey sandwiches could be the Beyoncé of any cafeteria. It’s no surprise I’m such a confident and impressive cook—I came from you, Girl!

Do you remember when your divorce from Daddy was FINALLY finalized and you took me out to Chevy’s for dinner? You told me it would be just the two of us from now on. I could tell you felt as though you had failed or had let me down. Silently, I thanked God for answering my prayers. Right then, I decided, since we are soulmates, that I’d be your husband and my life became one of laughter and music, no longer marred by letdown, paternal foolishness, nor an excess of heartbreak.

Prior to your stroke in 2017, I had never fully considered my life without you in it; and that is still the scariest thought for me. But seeing you get better and better, especially after every doctor said you’d never walk again is proof that not even God can take Aletha Barsir against her own will! Amen-amen!

…And you and I have been singing gospel, listening to Dolly Parton, quoting Forrest Gump and The Waterboy, taking road trips—and I’ve been eating good, ever since! Ups and downs—sure—but our cup of love for one another never emptied! Little Buddha made the perfect addition to our family. I cannot get enough of listening to the two of you playing and laughing together! It’s infectious!

All the wonderful experiences ahead of me pale in comparison to the blessings God is about to shower upon you. I declare it! I’ve seen it, because she’s shown me. I’ve traveled the world, and nowhere have I met a person who loves as hard and as raw as you do.

You are my blueprint! This birthday is just as much a celebration of you as it is me. Similarly—having YOU for a mother is the greatest birthday present The Black Woman Upstairs [God] could ever bestow upon someone! So, Happy early 32nd Birthday to us, Mommy!

I love 💙🧡🖤❤️ you!

Forever Your Favorite Rapper,

Sonkon Boy

Vidale Barsir
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