Illusions a novel by Wanda B. Campbell

Illusions a novel by Wanda B. Campbell

We love our mothers, sisters and sistahfriends, but with all their honest advice, do they help or hinder us sometimes.  This week, we have shown First Lady Denise Hightower in her struggles. She reaches out to her mother, but read how her mother responds below:

“Hello, mother, how are you today?” Denise was caught off guard by Lucinda’s calm demeanor.     

“Baby I’m fine. I know I came at you hard yesterday. I’m sorry. I just want the best for you.”

Before Denise could voice her acceptance of the apology, Lucinda turned a curve, laying another brick in her new insecurity wall.

“It’s not easy being married to a preacher, a pastor at that, but you have to watch how you carry yourself. Stop all that crying and moping. People are always watching you, waiting for you to make a mistake. You can’t let them know you’re weak, or they’ll take advantage of you, just as sure as my name is Lucinda; and I know that’s my name.”

“But Mama, you don’t know what I’m dealing with.” Denise’s voice was so low she wasn’t sure if she voiced the words or just thought them.

“It doesn’t matter; you need to be strong for Bryce. You have to be everything he needs, especially at church. If you don’t, he’ll find happiness someplace else.”

Denise switched the receiver to the opposite ear, and at the same time pondered her mother’s implication. If Bryce isn’t happy with her, did that give him the right to practice porn?  “Mama, I can’t be solely held responsible for our problems.” Denise paused. “Bryce has problems-serious problems. He’s not perfect.”

Denise wished, for once, her mother would ask her what those problems were. Just once she yearned to talk woman to woman with her mother about the turmoil racking her mind without the burden being placed back on her shoulders.

“Baby, of course he’s not perfect; he’s human. But it’s your job as his wife to cover those imperfections.”

Denise didn’t realize she was crying until she felt the tears on her hand that held the receiver. After using a tissue from the dispenser on her desk, Denise remained quiet as Lucinda went into her don’t-tell-nobody-but-God-speech.

“I love you, baby and I’m praying for you,” Lucinda said before disconnecting.

“I’m praying for you.”  Do we truly feel each others pain? Are we helping or hindering? We hope you will purchase Illusions to learn more about Denise’ story. Share your experiences and your thoughts about today’s passage.     

THIS WEEK:  Celebrate Wanda’s birthday & Valentine’s Day

This week’s winner will receive A Box of Sees Candies and a coupon for a FREE print design (choose a bookmark, postcard or business card) courtesy of Tywebbin Creations. Winner are responsible for printing. 

Check Wanda B. Campbell’s blog for the winners. For more information about Wanda and Illusions, visit her at






valentinesmayhemIt’s Friday, February 13 and I’m amazed that I’ve even started writing a post on this blog, my neglected blog. If it weren’t for Tywebbin (Tyora Moody) and guest contributor Wanda B. Campbell the blog would continue to be neglected and all of the thoughts concerning the day would remain in my head. Do I blame them or thank them? (raising eyebrow) Okay, I thank them, because I actually love this blog and will reframe “neglect” to become “a need for  personal space.” The blog and me were getting too close, too fast.

How’s that?

So Friday the 13th is that unlucky, crazy, mean day, right? People say things happen on Friday the 13th and there has been a small cottage industry of horror films based on its legend, which I do not know or care to know. I don’t believe in luck, and I can have a crazy or mean day on any day in a calendar year. But there is this funny thing that happens especially for the lovelorn and that’s pre-Valentine Day panic attack. That’s when women with husbands and boyfriends wait in angst to see what they will or will not receive on February 14. The angst will cause them issue “thought” ultimatums like “if he doesn’t, then I will” or “I know he better because if he doesn’t then” or one of my favorites “It’s over if I don’t.” We will drive ourselves freakin’ nuts over what will or what will not happen on February 14. I know, I’ve been there.

For years I didn’t have anyone on February 14, this year I do. And guess what? I’m not one bit concerned about what I will or will not receive. Is that cause for concern or does it mean I’ve finally cracked the February 13 anxiety code?

Who knows? I know this much: It’s nice to be back. Enjoy Wanda’s excerpt, check her out and Happy Valentines Day! Oh and to the anxiety-ridden, Happy Freaky Friday! Embrace the crazy.

~ Robin

Yesterday, I told Nan I had ‘the symptoms,’ of course she was curious and wanted to know what ‘the symptoms’ were and why would I have them. I shared that on Christmas Eve, during the day, I was a normal child doing normal child things but something would start to happen around six o’ clock in the evening and a reality set in – Christmas was just a few short hours away – and I would become transfixed and focused on what would certainly be a glorious day for me. Anxiety would set in, my tummy would bubble, I’d become quiet in anticipation and NO ONE had to tell me to bathe or dress for bed twice. I was there already by the time anyone looked up.  I’d even have this crazy, wild hair combed and dressed before hitting the sack in anticipation of the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof. 

My grandmother would be the first to notice the change in my disposition. She’d look at me and ask, “Does that baby have the symptoms?” and I’d nod, followed by a tear or two trickling down my face. I would be that anxious and excited. She’d then say something like, “Come here, Sugey (her nickname for me),” and we’d do things in preparation for the arrival of the Man known as Santa. We’d bake sugie (sugar) cookies, wrap a few gifts for other people, and then sit down to watch one of a zillion animated Christmas programs on TV. And at the height of ‘the symptoms,’ I’d run and get a Xmas plate, load it with sugie cookies and pour Santa a glass of milk. 

This ‘baby’ has ‘the symptoms.’ I’ve never been more excited to see the outcome of a presidential election. More so than even the first time I voted in 1976.  When I spoke with Nan, I shared that something was rising in my belly: anticipation, excitement and anxiety. I’m not nervous about the outcome, I’m nervous about watching it unfold. “The Symptoms” are as much about the process as the end result.

Today I’m going to work fast and furious, in spite of a few obstacles placed in my way. I’m going to clean my apartment, put things in order, pursue my work for clients, take a bath early – get all pretty – and dress for bed. I’m even going to take one of my homeopathic sleep aides just so I can have a restful sleep. And then tomorrow morning I’m going to wake up, walk right behind my complex and vote at six o’ clock. I’ve even checked the weather report for tomorrow: 70 degrees and sunny. I’m ready. Are you? Do you have “The Symptoms” too?


Best and VOTE, Robin

In 1983, President Reagan signed a bill establishing a federal holiday on the third Monday of January in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wasn’t excited about this presidential election campaign or year until yesterday. During the afternoon, I fell asleep suddenly and had a mini-dream of voting on Tuesday. That dream caused my heart to race and me to wake up every bit as suddenly as I’d fallen asleep. My most immediate thought: I have to vote!

Don’t get me wrong. I was going to vote on Tuesday. But yesterday’s declaration was one of urgency. I have to vote or die a million deaths for removing myself from the process. I can’t afford to do that.

Voting has been an integral part of my journey to 50. I come from a long line of politically active and passionate people. My grandfather was a staunch Democrat and my grandmother was a Lincoln Republican and their passions ran deep. As a little girl, my grandfather would take me to various campaign headquarters to stuff envelopes and  perform other duties. I even as a small girl campaigned for Carl Stokes when he became the first black mayor of Cleveland and on election night I witnessed people literally dancing in the streets. It was like the fourth of July.

All that enthusiasm carried me to my teen years when in the spring of 1976 I registered to vote in my high school library. That was an exciting event for me. I remember discussing it with my grandparents the night before and they were excited for me. That was the year 18 years old received the right to vote. Though I was 17, the rules enabled me to register and vote in the primary as long as I would be 18 by the general election. 

Tonight, I revealed to Nan that this is the first presidential election I haven’t volunteered on a regular basis. 

In Charles and Irene Doss’s house, once you were old enough to vote, some rules changed. I could no longer criticize the government or policies unless I voted. I wasn’t allowed to utter an opinion about anything involving the political process or social conditions unless I voted. 

I value those values. Plus, I’d rather die than not have the ability to flex my voice or my vote… Because somebody – many bodies died for my rights.

Peace, Robin

I’ve got mama issues. Real mama issues. If you want to play the dozens with me, go ‘head and talk about my mama. After I talk about you for being so trite and childish, I will probably talk about her too. Of course not with you but with God and my friends.

In fact, most women in my age group, especially sistahs, have mama issues. Some of those ‘issues’ are manageable, rendering some of my peers mildly functionally dysfunctional. Some of my peers are wildly dysfunctional but think they are just fine. And some are just plain jacked up.

(There had to have been something in the water when our mamas were born.) 

At any rate, I’m some combination of the three. If weren’t for the three or four ounces of Jesus I have in me, I’d probably be totally jacked up. Totally.

Well, today is my mama’s birthday. She is 68 years old today. I was born almost one month to the day before my mother’s 18th birthday.  I kind of messed up a few of her plans, but oh well I believe we’ve broken even over the years.

I refer to her as my mother/mama but there are few truths I need to reveal. (1) The one who mothered me in every sense of the word was my grandmother, Irene Doss; (2) I haven’t spoken to my mother in ten years (that’s a blog post in and of itself); and (3) God as my witness, if she were standing right in front of me, I wouldn’t know what to call her.  I’ll call her ‘gurl’ for the sake of this post.  And there is a fourth truth and that is the greatest gift I’ve ever given my mother is leaving her alone. 

And it’s a gift I’ve learned to cherish over the years (yet another blog post).

But that’s not the point… I need to share what she gave me. This is a tribute to her – of sorts.

  • She taught me to believe in God. One day walking down the street I asked her how did she know God existed, a heady question for a little girl of about six or so, and she told me that if two planets collided to form the Earth where did they come from; she told me that if a seed becomes a tree where did that seed come from and she told me that if I came from her and my daddy (a third blog post) then where did they come from and even if they could trace her and my daddy all the way back to Adam and Eve – where did they come? Worked for me. I believed and I believe.
  • She gave me permission to seek solitude however I can get it. Her preferred way was with me in my room and the door closed while she sat at the dining room table sipping coffee or some brown liquor. And she thoroughly enjoyed a rainy day b/c it meant she could only be busy inside of the house though she liked looking out of the picture window at the drops falling. Short of the brown liquor, I enjoy solitude pretty much the same way.
  • She introduced me to the joys of dancing alone. My mother could turn a doorway into a dancing partner, and if you’re from Cleveland then you know about “hand dancing,” and she would bop and hand dance with the doorway like nobody’s business. I do that too and more.
  • She showed me the joys of watching a chick flick late at night. We shared our first chick flick by watching Imitation of Life and the second (yes, I remember) was Backstreet with Susan Hayward. 
  • She kindly informed me that I wasn’t dark-skinned after a girl at school called me a high yellow bitch, and I only addressed the high yellow part. Maybe I knew I was a bitch at an early age. I don’t know. But the high yellow thing really ticked me off and my mother let me see my honey/caramel colored skin finally for it’s beauty. Until that day I thought I was dark-skinned, before some of you get your panties in a bunch, I was proud to be so, and highly disappointed to be called yellow. In fact, I was insulted, but that’s neither here nor there.
  • She taught me how to compete. When the ‘big’ girls down the street tried to bully me in a jacks tournament, she sat me down in the kitchen and on the porch (the playing field) and showed me the moves I needed to whip them good. I did and can still out play anyone in jacks. My eye/hand coordination is the bomb.
  • She showed me how to defend a loved one by defending me and not defending me when I needed it. I’ll never forget the day she and my grandmother beat the living daylights out of a white man in downtown Cleveland. He’d spat on me and laughed. Thinking they were white women, he turned to them for approval and met two sets of flailing arms. A white policeman had to pull them off of the man.   
  • She gave me Darren, my half-brother/brother. No one loved his crazy butt more than me. He’s still alive, but I have no idea where he is and that could be explained in one of the three or four supplemental blog posts I’ve mentioned above.

The greatest gift she gave me, inadvertently, were my grandparents. The day I went to live with them I discovered a treasure – two people who indulged/over-indulged me, loved me, listened to me, taught me much about life and love and everything in-between. She gave birth to me for them. I’d like to think that I was their favorite child. And for that I’m grateful.

And in her own way, she emancipated me to know the love of my grandparents and a ton of other people who poured so much into this spirit — good stuff too. 

On that note, Happy Birthday, Gurl! Maybe one day we’ll get it right.

Best, Robin

One of the most insulting days in my life was the day after my grandmother died. Life around me went on as usual and I was ticked off. While I took off of work and took a leave from graduate school to make arrangements, pick up nutty relatives from the airport and they were nutty, run errands for my granddad, and just plain breathe in my new normal w/o her, I noticed that life didn’t stop just because mine had. 

Talk about a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking grief. But the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking part didn’t happen until the last guest left the house. Until that day, I walked around fully functional and aware of everyone else’s needs. But that’s what I do.

I didn’t notice a shift in my spirit until the day of her funeral when our limosine was leading the funeral procession behind the hearse. I looked out of the window at passersby and realized that there were no flags at half-mast, no onlookers holding their hats against their chests and no activity telling me that everyone else cared as much as me about losing Irene Doss. I thought, This ain’t no parade.

Well, the days that follow the loss of loved ones is anything but a parade. We can say things like “Oh, they’re in a better place” or “Let’s celebrate the life of…” but at the end of the day, it’s a loss and it hurts like hell. 

I write this in light of the tragic, heinous murders of Jennifer & Julia Hudson’s mother and brother and in light of the evil, brutal murder of that baby Julian King. There might be people lined up and down the street to witness and share their compassion during the funeral procession, but when it’s all over and they have to move forward without Darnell, Jason and Julian, Julia and Jennifer are going to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it ain’t no parade.

Yesterday, I had to deal with something I haven’t dealt with in a couple of years and that’s the execution style murder of my cousin, Bre. It was such a cold and heartless death my cousin experienced in his own home. Some men in the neighborhood killed my cousin; they hated that Bre turned his life around and was teaching other men and boys life skills and occupational skills to turn theirs around too . I screamed a blood curdling scream the day I received that phone call, because Bre was one of my favorites. He was the little boy who use to bug the heck out of me to play when I was a teenager. He was the most beautiful child and someone in their evil and probably their own hurt, killed my precious cousin. All of these folks showed up for his funeral too, lined the streets and even took off their hats, but in my heart I knew it ‘ain’t no parade.’

At any rate, pray for Jennifer and Julia. Pray that God in His priceless mercy and grace, holds them and leads them through the darkest hours of their lives — the days when you discover that there is a hurt that you absolutely cannot control or do anything about. 

And I ask that you pray for me, because I cannot get over my anger or understand the mind of one or ones who’d kill a child so unmercifully. I cannot… 

Best, Robin