Abiding Faith Letter 56

Abiding Faith Letter 56


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



I began to attend New Shiloh Baptist Church when it was on Freemont Avenue. Its head minister

was and continues to be Dr. Harold Carter, to whom I was introduced by Mary. He was kind and gave

me copies of two of his published works, which included The Prayer Tradition of Black People (1974).


Letters of an Abiding Faith:

Legacy of a Slave’s GrandDaughter to her Son

written by Ella Lewis to her Son (Rudolph Lewis)


Letter 56


March 16, 1991


Dear Son,

I haven heard From you Since you went Back. What wrong I miss you From riten. How are you Fine I hope. For myself not too good I went to Doctor to day March 15th. I feel a little Better.

I riten you Just a note if you Can send me a little piece of money. I got to pay $500 dollars the insurance diden pay. I not asking you For that amount. Because I pay it By the month I Just telling What I want it For. What Ever you send me Will Be highly apreshated. I hate to ask you For I know you got your Bills to pay too.* If you Can and if you Cant I will understand.

Much love to you always


P.S. love you


*I was working again. And I indeed probably did have money. I was working in Mayor’s Schmoke’s adult education program. I am sure I must have sent the money. I am certain I had not bogged myself down emotionally with any woman after Mydea. After that time, my intimate relationships have been ones of convenience. They brought no joy, only relief. I have gotten as much or more out of a celibate life.

Three times women told me they intended to have an abortion. Maybe they did or maybe they didn’t. These may have just been stories told me to get a rise out of me. I am not absolutely certain that they occurred. I did not go to the hospital or the doctors with them. .They may have just said these things for hurt, to see my reaction and anxiety. In any event, it all probably was a good thing, whether true or false. They were relationships that did not work for me 

In all three situations. I was in no situation emotionally to deal with raising a child. Moreover,  my poverty and lack of confidence did not suit me to attend to the matter in a proper way. Evelyn, I later married out of guilt and desire. Jennifer was also a woman I also loved but feared that there were too many differences (of race and class). I was then in graduate school and had barely enough money to keep myself afloat.

But such trials, I suspect, are the lot of all men. I have no excuse and probably none is needed. I only regret the hurt that I visited on these three women. Evelyn, the girl I married in my twenties, has gone on to do well. She has prospered and is now a grandmother. Jennifer I have not seen since 1980.

Mydea has prospered and I am very happy for her. When I last spoke with her she was president of the All-Liberian Association and Queen of the Bassa, a very powerful woman indeed. And I, well, I am still struggling in my poverty, trying, as old folks used to say, to make a way out of no way; to reconcile my own emotional scars, to come to grips with the world I have made, often clumsily, for my self.

Evelyn was my first and only wife. Before 1988, I had not seen her in thirteen years. I was not sure why she brought her daughter Ebony (by her third husband ) and introduced her to me. Maybe it was like showing someone your new car. It is a part of your life and you want people to appreciate your accomplishment. Ebony, I believe, was then thirteen. Or maybe Evelyn wanted to get a few more licks in, for she felt that she had loved me and I had rejected her. And she wanted to impress on me more sharply what I had lost. As I understand it now, she is a grandmother and plans to retire in a few years in Florida. We did not have any children together and I am still childless.

Under the encouragement of Mary Spriggs, a member of Local 1199 and a sometime friend since 1970, I began to attend New Shiloh Baptist Church when it was on Freemont Avenue. Its head minister was and continues to be Dr. Harold Carter, to whom I was introduced by Mary. He was kind and gave me copies of two of his published works, which included The Prayer Tradition of Black People (1974).

I continue to go to New Shiloh even after they moved into its multi-million-dollar edifice on Monroe Street.

For awhile I was an usher, but found that exceedingly problematic with heel spurs. I considered joining the choir, but thought better of that. The activity that most appealed to me at New Shiloh was the prayer sessions that began about seven in the morning. In that they helped to regulate my day, I began to attend them frequently and they did me a world of good. Mama told me I should always pray. But I never really learned how to do that. But I was on my way to learning how to do what one can only do truly for oneself.

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