Edna Redo of Chicago sat down with the team at “I’m From Driftwood,” the non-profit organization archiving both the heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories of our community, to share a story of acceptance, but it definitely didn’t start out that way.
Redo told how in 1985, when she was a junior in high school, her mother — an English teacher — beat her for the grades she received.
I got five Fs. Five Fs and one C.
She got to school and got my grades and she seen the five Fs and one C and it was just… like she literally beat me in the car. From the school to my house, like, whooped me. Because she was that type, she would whoop you. But when we got home and after everything settled, you know, she always called me “Pookie.” I was her pookie.
“I just want you to be able to make it in society,” Redo says her mother told her. “And I love you. You are always my pookie, you are going to always be my baby.”
Flash forward to 1993, and Redo said her mom heard from members of their church that she was lesbian. In front of her brother and sister Redo said her mother told her, “I don’t care what you do but you better not do that shit in my house.”
They never spoke of her sexuality again.
When Redo turned 25, her mother contracted lung cancer. The story of how she learned her mother did accept her, on her deathbed, is best told in her own words:
I was holding her on my chest – holding her head, rather, on my chest. I leaned her over on my chest.
The words that she could get out I heard, she told me, she said, “Pookie, I love you and I’m okay.”
When she said, “I love you,” she took her last breath. And she was ticklish on her feet – we are all ticklish on her feet. And me still not realizing that she had took her last breath, I laid her head, removed her head from my chest and laid her head on the pillow. I went to the foot of the bed and I tickled her feet. She moved it one time and that was the last time I’d seen my mother alive.
As they planned the funeral, Redo’s aunt — her mother’s sister — confirmed what she had felt in her heart about her mother’s dying words.
“Your mom and I, we talked about it. And your mother knew.”
I said, “I know. I can tell she knew.” And I told my aunt I knew when I was holding her that I knew that she was okay at that point when she said, “Pookie, I love you,” I knew that she was okay.
And she said, “Yeah. She told me the same thing. She’s going to always love you, and don’t you ever think anything different.”
And she said, “I don’t care what you do, or who you do it with. If you’re happy, I’m happy.” And it felt like God had lifted everything off my shoulders that day.