Monday, October 22, 2007

Muhammad and His Mother: Together Again is happening so fast, I can't keep up. Last Friday, like many who knew and loved Muhammad Nassardeen, I went to the Faithdome and sat and listened to an oral history of Los Angeles through his life and times and his efforts to get us to recycle black dollars.

Speaker after speaker got up and told stories that we would otherwise not have known. I enjoyed his personal friends best. They told all his business. I thought I knew Muhammad, but who knew he was a mama's boy who loved to sing? Who knew he had such a beautiful wife and children? I had read his daughter Alicia's writings in the Black Dollar, but that was it. And I did not know he was close to Attallah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X.

I last spoke to Muhammad right before the Expo when Randall Pinkett was Recycling Black Dollars' invited guest to a seminar at the Expo. Every year I covered RBD's Black Business Month activities on Crenshaw in front of the Sentinel. Except the fact that he was my same age (who knew?) I don't have any prophetic last moments.

In fact, my fondest memory of Muhammad was years ago when he invited me on his show which was then on KYPA, to talk about the Expo. I do not remember everyone in the studio, but Kitty Davis-Walker, his co-host was there, as well as Bill Overton, (Jayne Kennedy's husband and actor/author). Muhammad's massive presence anchored the small studio and just as we were about to crack the mikes to begin the show, his suspender popped and hit him dead in the face. Shocked, but now on air, we all stifled giggles, but Bill Overton couldn't hold it in. He said "No, man, I can't let that go!" and we all burst into laughter, along with Muhammad.

He was working on that weight. Harold Hambrick, expo president, said he saw Muhammad out some mornings on his bicycle. Some told me they saw a smaller Muhmmad at the Expo, but those who saw him at Jazz at Drew said he was limping and he did not look well at all. But he was still going.

But that is not why I am writing. The news of it all was the fact that everyone who mentioned it acknowledged that Muhammad was an admitted momma's boy. After the trail of teary eyed speakers finished, that Mom, named Amina, got up to address us about her son. She was dry-eyed, in full command, and spoke like a prophetess. She said she welcomed the opportunity to speak about God. She told us she last spoke to Muhammad a dew days before he passed and after an hour of chatting and laughing and joking on the phone, when she hung up, God told her he would be the first of her children to pass away. She said God repeated this message to her clearly. "He was preparing me," she said.

But who could prepare us for what came next? As she spoke ever so eloquently, assured, proud and dry-eyed, I snapped her picture on the monitor. Afterwards, I thanked her for teaching us how to mother. She seemed genuinely glad to hear her words had an impact.

And then this woman, who looks like our well coiffed mothers do-- picture of health and spryness--went home and in her sleep, passed away. ON THE SAME DAY SHE BURIED HER SON!!!!!!!!! Oh. My. God.

After I heard, I called my Mom in Virginia and told her the story. And as much as I tell a gazillion people I love them, I rarely, if ever, told my Mom. She doesn't tell me either. She will say "God bless you!" and I know she loves me and supports my every endeavor, but "I love you" is just something that we rarely say in our immediate family. And I climbed that mountain and said it. Surprisingly she said "I love you, too." And no matter what happens from here on out, she knows. She knew it before I said it, but it was important for me to say it and wonder of wonders, I got to hear her say it in return.

So call your mother. Don't let time slip by. As my mother always says "You never know the minute or the hour." And oh! I love you too.

Isidra Person-Lynn

PS: My condolences to the family and especially to Kitty Davis-Walker, who I enjoyed working on air with for years before Muhammad scooped her up and Muhammad's right hand Jacque Bee. Outside of his wife and family, these two heroines were the wind beneath Muhammad's wings.