“My mom was shot and killed by her boyfriend on December first. She had dated him for about five months. He didn’t say much to us and I didn’t have many problems with him. I am the oldest son and growing up, I didn’t want my mom to have a boyfriend. I was her boyfriend and I was very protective of my mom.
I didn’t see them fight much. It was never serious or drastic. That day, I was on the phone and heard a gunshot. We are used to gunshots but It sounded a little too close and it sounded inside my house. I ran to the door, my brother ran into me from the kitchen and jumped into the farthest corner of my room and said mama was shot. I start to do down the hallway and the boyfriend hit the corner and pointed the gun down the hallway. I slammed the door and put the dresser in front of the door. After he was gone, I ran to her. She was on the floor. My brother said she was watching the news and told her boyfriend to stop playing with the gun and he shot her for no reason. She was dead when I got to her. We called the police. It took them six hours to get her off the floor.
My mom was the mother of the neighborhood. She was kind and cared about everybody and they all stood in our yard after she died.
The last thing she told me was to clean up the kitchen. I try to do everything as if she was here and take care of my brothers and grandma, but I will never get over losing. It is just stitching yourself back up and trying to heal. I will always have the scar of losing her.
I once got in trouble because I was at the basketball court and she left the house with my other two brothers. I went back to the house to use the restroom but the house was locked. My window was unlocked so I opened it. She thought I broke into her house and broke the window and I got a whipping for that. She wasn’t sorry about it after she found out why I jumped in the window, but we could laugh about it later.
My favorite meal she cooked for me was macaroni with Velveeta shells and ground beef together. Homemade hamburger helper. I loved it. On my bad days, she told me to suck it up. She was strict on us. When we were younger, we used to have to do our homework at 5 and be in bed at 7. There was a lot of crime in our neighborhood, but she stayed on top of us. She knew my dream was that I was going to Coastal for two years and then transfer to Auburn to be a civil engineer.
I want to be an engineer because when we went to Mexico on mission trips with Light of the Village we noticed that they didn’t have paved roads. I was wondering about who made roads and John said civil engineers and then I started getting into roads and bridges. I also love math. I like college. I can handle myself since I was always trying to be the man of the house at home. Now I live my life trying to make her proud the best I can.
I want to stop seeing the pain around the world and be stress-free. I have been at Light of the Village since I was about five. I grew up without a father and John and D’lo are my second parents and have tried to guide me on the right path. My life could have gone a different way.
I am scared of not being successful. Growing up in the projects, I want to get out and do something for myself. I am scared of being stuck here.”
(This is part of a series of stories from Prichard, Alabama, a once-thriving city on the edge of Mobile. Many people have moved away from Prichard and it struggles with difficult issues from violence, drugs, and education to city government, employment, transportation, and public water. But Prichard is also a reminder that communities are more than the stories of shootings and failures reported every night on the news. It is more than crime statistics and a proud past. There are good people who haven’t given up or are coming back home to Prichard. They have hope and are giving themselves to make a difference. I hope Prichard proves that positive change comes from people like this taking action. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.)