I don’t know how they came. They were streaks of light that fell from the sky. If memory serves me right, they were shooting stars. I never thought that shooting stars were signs of hope; nor would I ever believe that one day I would look back to see how those same shooting stars would stay with me long after they disappeared.
I was eleven-years old. I lived in Harlem, New York with my mother and twin brother, Norman in the year 1956. My dad died in War World II after the liberation. I never knew Dad, except in pictures of him with Mother.
Mother never married Dad. Mother always said that it could’ve been wonderful living a fairy-tale life with him. Dad was a German pastor who spoke fluent English at Mom’s church. In fact, he was her Au Pair growing up.
Back then, wealthy blacks manage to get by on their own; choosing education over money. In the photograph, Mother was happy in her swimsuit. On the beach with Dad, she was brown-skinned with black curly hair. Dad on the other hand had an alabaster complexion, thinning blonde hair and freckles.
I was so curious about Dad. I wanted to know more about him. I took Dad’s picture off the centerpiece and brought it over to Mom.
“When I first met him, his sliver eyes sparkled like stars,” she replied.
“Daddy had sliver eyes?”
Mom smiled a nostalgic smile.
“Your father was like a prince from a fairy tale. In fact, when I was twelve, he would tell me a story about the shooting stars. In the story, he once said that every time you see a shooting star, your wish will come true. After the shooting stars fade away, you will see an ugly rock in your path.
“Remember this, when you hear a voice that tells you to pick up that rock, turn it over and see the beauty that rock has.”
It was yesterday on my way to school that I saw an ‘ugly’ rock. I wanted to hit the boys bullying me with it. For some reason, I didn’t want to.
That night, out my window I saw them. Shooting stars soaring across the sky. As I watched the night sky, my brother was fast asleep. Stars filled with hope and dreams, soaring across the night sky.
Saturday morning came. My brother was still stuck in bed and Mother was getting ready for her house cleaning job. I told her about the shooting stars.
“Vincent,’ she sighed. “Now you know it’s just a story. I stopped believing in shooting stars when Dad died. Now, don’t get too hopeful. Stay grounded.”
Talking to Norman about the shooting stars was a big no-no!
I left the apartment, discouraged. I came across the ‘ugly’ rock that I hated.
“Pick it up.” A voice told me.
I picked up the rock and turned it over.
And sure enough, they were gems inside the ‘ugly’ rock.