I first met her, briefly, in the Superdome at a Tulane University football game. For our second meeting, I was a guest at her home for Thanksgiving in 1996. At that time I had no idea that she would become both a beloved and respected family member. This week’s Power Mom is my mother-in-law, Naomi Prosper.
Mama has built a legacy of faith, endurance, and love. A mother of six and mother-figure to many more, she raised her children while helping other children in need. When one of her four daughters had friends who needed guidance, a meal, or a place to stay, mama made took care of them. Her two sons, affectionately called the engine and the caboose because they’re her oldest and youngest children, could also depend on her to help their friends when needed. She diligently participated in church ministries, helped raise grandchildren, worked full time, and raised her six children and a other people’s children. She was also an entrepreneur, selling perfect popcorn balls at parades, as well as candy, pickles and huckabucks* from her Algiers home. A grandmother and great-grandmother, mama continues to build by sharing wisdom, knitting blankets for the needy, and acccepting everyone’s children as her own.
Naomi Prosper recently celebrated her 80th birthday. While she has slowed down a bit, she continues to do the things that have helped her enjoy life. Though she is no longer winning huge trophies with her bowling team, she has developed other hobbies. Mama spends time at her local senior center, attending events, participating in contests, and making new friends. She attends church services as often as possible and maintains her faith in Christ. She’s also an avid football fan, cheering for her favorite teams, the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, as well as her favorite player, Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers. Mama finds joy in God, family and fun, balancing them all in her own way.
I believe that my mother-in-law’s superpower is perseverance. Her life hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it could be said that much of her life has been hard. Nonetheless, she has always figured out how to move through her circumstances, using the lessons she has learned to encourage everyone around her. Though she would use different wording, I imagine her voice when I think of the poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. I could hear her telling us, “Well, children, I’ll tell you. For me, life hasn’t been a crystal stair… but all the time I’ve been climbing.” Please join me as I celebrate this week’s Power Mom, Naomi Prosper.
*Huckabucks are a sweet frozen treat, something like a popsicle in a plastic cup without a stick. They’re also called cold cups, frozen cups and icebergs, depending on who you’re talking to in New Orleans.