by Odetta Wright
Ebony McWilliams gingerly climbed the creaky staircase that led to the attic. Each step groaned under her bare feet. Her father had warned her hundreds of times about walking barefoot but to no avail. Ebony liked the feeling of going without shoes. She even went an entire summer without wearing them. The feel of the grass and dirt between her toes made her feel at one with Mother Nature. Once, she even found a four leaf clover between her toes! Now that was truly the luck of the Irish.
As she reached the top of the stairs, she looked around at the dimly lit attic. She began to sneeze several times as the dust settled uncomfortably in her nostrils. The dust covered everything like a dirty blanket. Antique furniture, boxes of historical treasures, and family heirlooms from years past littered the floor. Ebony wiped off a picture of her mother and father on their wedding day. They married on St. Patrick's Day and every year on that day she would make the trip into the attic to discover more about her family. She smiled at how happy and in love they looked. Her father's emerald eyes shined so bright. They complimented her mother's smooth mahogany skin. Who would have thought that a lanky Irish boy and a hippie Black girl would find each other in this universe. She opened the frame to get a closer look at the picture and an old brittle piece of paper fell to the floor.
Ebony sneezed once more as she carefully picked up the yellow paper and opened it. She looked at the date written in the year of her birth. And the letter was addressed to her. Ebony's heart began to race not because she was afraid but rather because she felt that this moment was one that would change her life once she read the contents of the letter. She found a dusty old chair and sat down. She identified the author of the letter: her father.
March 17, 1968
My precious daughter,
Words cannot express how I am feeling at this moment. But I wanted to take this time to write them down because I don't know what the future will hold for you and me. You will learn as you get older that your mother died during childbirth. Please know that it was not your fault. Some pregnancies go off without a hitch and others go terribly wrong in a short amount of time. The doctors tried to do all they could to save her but I guess God needed her advice up there. I will tell you this, she looked into my eyes before she went on her next journey and told me, no rather she threatened that if I did not love, cherish and take care of you with all my heart, she would be visiting me often and it wouldn't be pretty. I pray that I will be able to do that given my grief right now.
I loved your mother so much. She was my beautiful queen. Her grace, style, stubbornness and earthly presence enriched my life so much. Our parents did everything within their power to keep us from marrying each other. They told us that our backgrounds were too different. That we would be dooming any child of ours to years of ridicule and hatred because there is so much racism in the world today. Well, you will be proud to know that this awkward, Irish green-eyed monster as her dad used to call me and that mahogany smooth skinned beauty decided that if love was our weapon of choice then we'd better start using it.
Your mother would always say that my emerald green eyes put a spell on her. She would look into them for hours as if she could see a leprechaun or a pot of gold. I, in turn, loved the color of her skin. She was and is still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. We met in college. She was a brilliant Economics major and I was an English major who needed to pass Economics. She had mercy on me and agreed to tutor me. I passed Economics and asked her to go steady. She agreed and my heart skipped a beat! We had a wonderful romance. It wasn't perfect because we were criticized, laughed at, spat upon and as I aforementioned, our families tried to discourage us on every hand. But know this, little Ebony McWilliams: Our love was stronger than all their hate put together.
So we married and began our life together. Two years into our marriage, she gave me the best news, she was pregnant. I was so proud. And believe it or not, she went the entire pregnancy barefoot. I sincerely hope that doesn't rub off on you. She said that she felt closer to Mother Earth. So we fast forward to today my precious daughter and for reasons that I will never understand, the love of my life was taken from me. Us. As I held you for the first time, even through the tears, I looked at your mahogany smooth skin and emerald green eyes and I thanked the powers that be because you represented the very best of your mother and me. You were your mother's gift to me and as we grow together I will cherish her memory and honor her request. To love, cherish and take care of you.
My daughter, you are my emerald destiny.
Ebony looked up at the picture of her parents through teary eyes. Her heartbeat filled her ears with an incessant thumping. She didn't know what to think or what to feel. Her father had told her when she was young how her mother died but when you are young you really don't get the big picture. But now it all came together. Her father's sad emerald eyes. Her whispering relatives who abruptly finished their conversations when she entered the room. All her life, everyone treated her with love and kindness but somehow she always felt they pitied her because of her situation.
Now it all made sense as she intently studied the picture of the two unlikely lovers who defied the world with their love. Ebony smiled. She was proud of them and she was grateful that they chose to bring her into this world of chance. She was their emerald destiny. The proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And she would from this day forth, walk with pride and cherish her unique heritage. She owed it to her parents. She owed it to herself.