Tears and sobs drowned the words my mother tried to speak. My father babbled.
Barack Obama had just won the presidency, and the realization that America loved them back stampeded my parents’ emotions like a wedding proposal from the perfect lover you assumed would never settle down.
“I never thought it would happen,” my 71-year-old father said.
“Not in my lifetime,” my 68-year-old mother cried.
Positive affirmation sustains healthy relationships. A foolish spouse goes a day without verbally expressing his love, a week without publicly demonstrating it, and a single holiday without going into substantial debt to prove it.
For my parents, and many African-Americans, particularly of their generation, America had been a very thoughtless partner at best and an abusive one at worst.
They lived through segregation, Jim Crow, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the lynching of Emmett Till, and were raised by parents and grandparents who lived in near daily fear of racial atrocities.