If you know Sue, please direct her to my website. Thanks so much. When she painted this, she told me my daughter Caroline’s face was the model for the child.
Now picture something else—Mary Boland and Kamua Okafor getting off that coffin ship from Cork, Ireland, in Boston in 1849.
Both are filthy from the months-long journey. Neither can read nor write. And they are hungry. Hungrier than you and I can ever imagine.
He’s black as coal and she’s Irish-pale white. He’s 16 and the son of an African witch doctor. She’s 13 and the daughter of an illiterate village midwife.
But they have each other. What gave these two children the assurance that they would survive and prosper in this new land they call “Boston, America?”
I believe it’s called early childhood unconditional love. Before the slave traders beheaded his mother and took Kamua, he was honored and adored by his parents.
So, too, was Mary loved. Her “mam thought the sun rose and set on Mary’s head.” Her “Da” was off somewhere in Boston trying to earn money to bring his family to him, never knowing that his wife had perished of the famine.
Yes, being loved before age three can do wonders for a child. Some truths are inviolable. This is one of them.
I write this blog in honor of parents across the world who give unconditional love to little children. And by the way, Happy Birthday, Caroline.
Jeanne Charters writes about the business of living your life to the fullest. Over the years through her magazine columns, books and blog posts, she has sought to help other women face life's challenges through humor, strength and perseverance.
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