Sherri Lynne – From Sandridge Road

Harlem

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

What happens to a dream deferred?

       Does it dry up

      like a raisin in the sun?

      Or fester like a sore—

      And then run?

      Does it stink like rotten meat?

      Or crust and sugar over—

      like a syrupy sweet?

       Maybe it just sags

      like a heavy load.

       Or does it explode?

Hey everybody, welcome back and thank you as always for allowing me to share my story with you. Much love!

Unfortunately, I know there are millions of narratives like mine, but the good news is there are just as many survivors’ ones as well. Even in the midst of death, we have words to comfort, experiences that are like no others but are the same in spirit so we bond together. We share an understanding of collective joys and pains as a community of wonderful, vibrant beings who are living with disabilities hidden or visible. I think of my good friend Barbara Grissett Wilson from high school, who has MS now but carries a spirit that is unmatched in faith, laughter, and such a giving joy you almost forget about the disability. The essence that made me laugh so many years ago still remains within her.

I get it; you become stronger in spite of the “weakness” associated with the disease.

That’s what I do now, what I’ve always done; my survival is linked intrinsically with my faith in God. How else can you explain why I am still here and not in my grave at nineteen? Shout out to my church St Joseph Missionary Baptist and my ever inspiring pastor, Rev. Theron Bellamy, yes he’s my cousin too. Come visit us on Sandridge Road, you know the way!

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, there was my new world of disability living; just me and Mama as we adjusted to the detours from our dreams. I was sent to Charleston, SC where Dr. Walter Bonner, the doctor who God put in place to save my life, performed more tests and treated me for Lupus. He was a lifeline for my family, the person who figured out the mystery and I stayed his patient from 1980 to 2001 when he semi-retired.

Sherri blog 4
The early eighties. Steroids in full effect. Photo:Diane Henson 
sheri w jordan 1983
1984, a mere four years later with my adorable nephew Jordan. Photo:Diane Henson 

Mama and I were both mending at the same time, but I “look back and wonder how we got over.” Mama sang that song and many others as she continued her work at St Joseph as a choir member, President of the Missionary Society, Church Treasurer and an Eastern Star. Accessibility was not in her vocabulary at that time; she just did what she felt she needed to from her walker, and then later with her cane.

My dream of flying the airways as a stewardess dried up “like a raisin in the sun.” I have had two hip replacement surgeries, multiple skin grafts, pins in my hands to correct the rapid erosion from Lupus, and several scares in intensive care as the disease had its way.

Yet, I fought back!

Sherri blog 4 this week
After church. Don’t let the hands fool you, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Photo: Arnell Bellamy

Mama’s job as a dedicated asst. cafeteria supervisor at NMB High was over. Gone were the leftovers from the best lunches any school ever had, I laugh now at what my daycare kids and younger family members have to suffer through. When we were in school there was nothing like the fried chicken, or the spaghetti, the succulent turkey dinners complete with savory pan dressing, and the homemade biscuits!!! (Mrs. Ruth Chestnut) God bless her soul she made the best. I mean one day we had a real fire drill during lunch and fried chicken was being served with those biscuits, but we stayed in line. The principal had to come and usher us out, we were so pissed!

Anyway, now Mama and I had to take a deeper look at our new way of life, find new dreams that would give us equally satisfying lives, and still help others. I remember her saying she wanted to do something to help others, just that alone signaled something inside of me to follow my Mama’s spirit because she knew of a greater love. She chose to start an in-home daycare, she was not professionally schooled in it but she had an awesome mission…to help young mothers and fathers in our community. She did not charge much, understanding the struggles everyone has in life, and we were both rewarded richly for it.

So you know what’s coming in the next blog. My dream deferred is now a transformed love for the many wonderful babies that flowed into our home. They are still sustaining me to this day.

Please stay tuned and stay blessed!

Sherri Lynne

 


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