Carter-Ly tells her story of a mother's rite of passage while single parenting seven children-attempting to keep a pot on the stove, and the rent paid each month. This memoir follows her as she marries, only to endure horrific abuse from the husband. The Game Plan demonstrates a faith in God and is a testimony to believing in the impossible.
The Game Plan develops into a plot, a you deserve better design for seven innocent children. Joyce shares the lessons learned through many years of discovery, struggle, self actualization, and intense parenting, and it is an inspiration for any caregiver.
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The Game PlanA Journey of Spiritual Enlightenment, Success, and Self Actualization
By Joyce Carter-ly
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Joyce Carter-ly
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMother Love
The Game Plan: A Journey of Spiritual Enlightenment, Success, and Self Actualization: is not complete without a mention of the profound effect of mother love plays in the person I am. Mattie Amelia Huggins had a family, community and me as I see it. I smile whenever I write, think, or speak of this woman because she was a loving Mother, a happy wife, and church member. Mother Huggins 'aura' comes to Joyce's mind, especially in those moments of uncertainties. Mattie, a quiet person by nature, embraced motherhood as an endearing career, and worked hard to nurture a strong family foundation. Moms' passion for being a Mother is always evident in her lifecycle because with every trial and tribulation she found a resolution. I had the opportunity of having an exclusive relationship with Mother my entire life and now this bond continues to embrace my soul. Mother and God together worked on my behalf to guide me through the worse times of my life and this grip of endearment that sustains me as I age.
My birthplace, 238 Madison Avenue, Troy, Ohio and Gradual & Mattie Huggins provided an abundance of lifetime lessons. The initial property was one room when originally purchased long before I arrived and Daddy, a master plumber added the additional rooms as the family expanded. There were eight Huggins children namely Cecile, David, Delores, Robert, George, Janice, James, Gloria, and me. David died as an infant. Mother loved her husband in a very silent manner. I knew this because the family household was calm as Mother gave each child the attention, affection, and adoration we needed. Mattie and Gradual both migrated from Memphis, Tennessee. Daddy is from a large family and Mom was an only child. She had a half brother but Mom was not close with him. I only remember Uncle Motey being at our house for funerals. My grandparents, Hattie and William Moton owned property near the home place and Grandma walked over every day for a visit. Mother hid her smoking from grandma and one day, Mom darn near swallowed a cigarette when Grandma showed up unexpectedly. When I laughed, I was banished from the house until grandma left. Mothers' best friend is my name sake, Catherine Bradford. When Aunt Catherine appeared, she always gave me my special hug then I had to skedaddle because kids are not allowed in the house when adults are talking. Aunt Catherine's' husband was the neighborhood podiatrist and I sometimes accompanied Mother to his office. Mother had a foot condition which I did not understand so Doc Bradford took care of her
Dr. and Mrs. Bradford had two children, Patricia & Wesley Junior, who became medical professionals later. Mrs. Bradford and Mattie Huggins were good friends, Aunt Catherine and I had a special relationship. She was a full figured woman with a skin condition and when she hugged me, I smelled baby power on her.
I do not remember Mother visiting other people; I think Mothers' love for her family, church, and home were enough for her. My parents believed that children should be respectful of adults, manner able, seen and not heard. The Huggins children could never call an adult by their first name; adult visitors are introduced as Mr., Mrs., Uncle or Aunty. Mattie Huggins preached daily the ideal of good manners with all her children. This is just the way it was in the Huggins family at 238 Madison Avenue.
Mattie and Gradual Huggins owned considerable property on Madison Avenue. On each side of the 238 residence and behind the main house was a smaller dwelling that was occupied by a rental tenant, Mr. Rochelle. Mother insisted her children stay in their own yard and everyday we had plenty of playmates. This included brothers Bob and Wade Ferguson who showed up every day with a sugar sandwich. Later "Bob" Ferguson became was an American football running back and member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He is considered by many to be the greatest fullback in the history of the Ohio State University Buckeyes.
Huggins' family celebrations became memorable events in my childhood because church members, neighbors, and passersby's filled the yard. Mother celebrated each child's birthday in a big way. There is always lots of fresh foods and Mr. Tunney' well known homemade wine for the adults. The grape arbors in the back yard grew big fat purple grapes for daddy's special Christmas wine but were tempting to snatch and taste. A Huggins holiday celebration always begins in Zion Baptist Church then at 238, in the basement or the yard. A Christmas tree covered with a gazillion bright lights and gifts galore or a barbeque pit covered with fresh meat was always the spot to gather. Holidays were extra special because it meant a daylong shopping trip to Dayton, Ohio to Rikes' department store and visits to Grandma Huggins house where a half dozen cousins lived. Daddy also makes the best popcorn with fresh corn kernels; you know the kind that explodes in hot oiled black iron skillet? Next, the popped corn is dumped in a large scrubbed dishpan, doused with heated butter, sprinkled with salt, stirred with his bare hands, and served to the anxious siblings sitting on the living room floor watching television. The smell of fresh popcorn was a big part of my childhood memories. Each summer Daddy had a large garden and my siblings and I had to pull weeds then pick vegetables to sale for spending money. Fresh mustard greens, tomatoes, green beans or corn on the cob from daddy's garden was part of dinner and a common summertime chore in the family. Sometimes my sisters and I could pick a bushel of mustard greens, cucumbers or prize tomatoes for sale or carry to the annual church picnic.
Mattie Williams and Gradual T. Huggins migrated from Memphis, Tennessee with their respective parents then later meet in Troy; marry after Mattie graduates from the Troy High School as the first African-American female. My Grandfather was a Baptist minister, Reverend Huggins when they settled in Troy, headed the Huggins clan. Mattie a light complexion attractive women with long black curly hair contracted poliomyelitis as a child before a vaccination was developed and one leg was shorter than the other one. Her childhood is vague but she tells me that the hue of my skin will make a difference in peoples' reaction to me. Gradual, called Tunney by most people, quit school to work in the local factory while Mother became a domestic helper for the Montrose family, a local influential and wealthy lumberyard owners. Mattie, a trusted, loyal hard worker eventually left domestic employment for full time employment, at Troy's' Stouder Memorial Hospital laundry room. Mrs. Montrose continued to hire the authors' Mother for dinner parties, social events as extra help, and as a child, I sensed a degree of trust between two very different women. Mrs. Montrose driving a shiny black Cadillac arrives to pick-up or drop off Mom at 238 Madison, our home. The sight of a Cadillac in the neighborhood is significant of a funeral but its presence draws several curious on-lookers each time. The neighborhood kids would appear from everywhere, run upon the car but never touched it. The Montrose mansion is a huge home with four levels, an elevator, and a ballroom. The dinner plates and silverware are gold embossed and heavy as lead. The third floor of the mansion housed hundreds of dolls for Mrs. Montrose' granddaughter, Melissa Haines. This is unnerving because I had never seen so many dolls on display, not even at a department store. In her head, Joyce wonders, why does one child need this many dolls to play with, maybe Melissa is lonely.
The kitchen of the Montrose mansion is small, drab and crowded with ugly cooking utensils as compared to my Mother's shiny clean homey and sweet smelling kitchen. I did not like this kitchen because I am restricted to this area. Later I learn about societal roles and expectations.
Mother tells me stories of how fair skinned people are accepted more in the South but there is an always-racial peer problem for some people. Time with Mother is always a human nature lesson. I listen and admire this woman as my first hero. Mother stressed the importance of a high school education and formal training as essential skills for a female. I always believed that the authors' Mother yearns for more than homemaking yet settled for the sign of the times for most women which is marriage and children.
My birthday is October 6; nineteen hundred forty-one and life must be prosperous by the time I arrive or maybe I am unaware of any difference. I remember hearing Mother brag that Joyce will be the college graduate in the family and a registered nurse. So, most of my life, I grew up aspiring to be a nurse then one day on a class field trip to an amusement park, I see a bloody accident and in a panic, I run in the opposite direction frightened as never before. With this experience, I realize that I am a visual learner.
Church life in the authors' childhood is intense at times because she is taught to speak and respect elders regardless. She challenges this childhood dogma and tried to avoid the church elders for various reasons and this labeled Joyce as a difficult child. Thus, a target for negative Sunday reports to Mom and consequences of punishment after church. Joyce's dispositions toward certain old biddies at church embarrass her Mother until Joyce decides to figure this situation out. Mrs. Grover, considered the church Mother, says, Mattie, Joyce did not speak to me this morning, as Mother arrives at the church. I learned to dislike the church Mother and vowed to cuss her bad when I grow up. Later, as an adult, that day came, Mrs. Grover on her death bed, asks to see me and as I respond to Mommy's request to this visit in disbelief while having a visional flashback of the Sunday experiences, reluctantly, I agree. In a weak state, Mrs Grover own up to purposely agitating me as a child for some unknown reason. This woman causes some much grief for me with my Mother years earlier, now admits to how she loved to hear me sing and of all Mattie Huggins' kids, Joyce is her favorite and she never understood why I did not like her. I gasp and cannot speak but leave the house and soon afterwards, the grand old dame expires. I would like to cherish the thought that Mrs. Grover patiently waits to right a wrong before her death and thus a lesson in dying for a once audacious Joyce.
Zion Baptist Church and Reverend Paul Ivory Perkins is an intricate part of the community life. Other churches are in the community also and each is a thriving focal point for the African-American family. Daddy did not join the church until after he became ill and then he starts dressing up and joining the family in the church functions. For years, Daddy only wears a green uniform to work and then something happens and things change for the better. A television is delivered to the house, remodeling is going on, the oil stove is replaced with a furnace, the icebox is removed and a refrigerator arrives, Brother George returns from the Korean war, a car replaces the bicycle and the linoleum floor is removed and wall to wall carpeting is installed. Gradual, my father buys suits at a upscale Men's store in downtown Troy and Mother wears pretty hats and finer clothes. They look elegant and I am proud to see them together.
At this age, the older sisters and brother are showering me with expensive gifts for my good grades in school. I love the attention and the payoff is great for I love learning. After school, Mother arranges a part-time job for me with Mrs. Montrose' daughter, Elizabeth Haines. My duties include light housework but soon become Melissa' companion. Melissa is four years younger than me and we become playmates rather than a nanny role. Mrs. Haines insisted that because of my maturity, I learn to drive the family Cadillac and take Melissa to the Troy County Club. Mother is livid because Joyce is not licensed to drive but Mrs. Haines reassured her that it is okay for me to chauffeur Melissa around town. In public and with Melissa along side, we never experienced any racist comments or actions, which I remember. Later, I realize the influence and power this family must reign in my hometown at this time.
During the school year, Mrs. Haines recommends me for several different jobs after school, as a domestic in other homes. Mrs. Haines describes me as Mattie's daughter, mature for her age, trustworthy, and excellent with children. I hire into the elite society in Troy, Ohio and gain access to large mansions and the wealthiest lifestyles. Serving the city officials and upper social class of Troy benefit me later in life. No other African-American child has been allowed in a segregated country club. At this time, I think blacks cannot afford a membership at the country club, I did not know about these issues at this age because wherever Melissa went, Joyce went.
Melissa and I walk from her house to the downtown department store to buy doll clothes or some insignificant item for fun. But, in jest, Melissa insisted we tell people we are sisters and we never give our names. Many times and for a long time, Melissa and I laugh about our adventure as sisters. By now, Melissa has assumed the role of hierarchy the social reign in Troy, Ohio.
The teenage years in Troy, Ohio ended far too soon and looking back, I see, a safe community, respected with involved parents, a large loving family environment, good values and memorable and healthy lifestyle with the community as a caregiver. Years later, the writer continues to remember her childhood memories in Troy
As an adult returning to my hometown, I walk the neighborhood with my children talking to the lady sweeping the sidewalk, I call Ms. Mabel. Each neighbor enjoys telling an incident with me as a child. Then the conversations switch to how proud they are of seeing my children on television or reading about their success in the daily newspaper. The elders make positive comments about me as a precocious youth and the stories always end with the same tone of endearment. A prediction perhaps for the future of Mattie Huggins willful daughter named Joyce. Some said; your past will dictate the future but somehow, I as a woman of the millennium I challenge this phrase.
A Lesson In Love
Mom and Dad live long enough to be a big part of my children's youth and adulthood accomplishments and enjoyed the proud moments of watching them on television. Mattie and Gradual Huggins provide precious memories of love and support that will sustain each child in a lifetime.
In the eighties, daddy retired from the Hobart Brothers factory as a master welder, the factory dust and his chewing Union Workman tobacco did major damage to his lungs and with retirement, his health spiraled downward until he gave up and left us. It is in this sad time that I realize the enormous love Mother has for her husband, my Father. The death of my Father hurt and I became more thankful that I had one parent alive.
For me, Mothers death is a private indescribable void. At this time, I believe that no one understands the emotional pain of being Motherless and I pray that none of my children ever experience this painful loss. I believe that Mother did not want to live without daddy, as she seem sad most of the time after his interment.
Mother, a chronic smoker, for many years developed lung cancer and while near death, she insisted that she die at home and in her bed. I lived forty miles away in Middletown, Ohio and mindful of Mothers crucial condition, my son Butch calls and encourages me to join him at a Bill Cosby concert in Dayton. At this time, Butch was a Assistant Head Coach at the University of Dayton and I could feel his enthusiasm as Bill Cosby was a idol for him, so reluctantly I spent the evening with my son and his hero. As I enter my house, the phone rings, a voice asks that I wait, as someone needs to talk with me. The next few moments are an incredible lesson of love as I listen attentively to; Baby, I am going to be with your father now, I am ready!
Excerpted from The Game Plan by Joyce Carter-ly Copyright © 2012 by Joyce Carter-ly. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
A Lesson In Love....................11
I Am Not Supposed To Be Here....................23
Getting Past The Past....................27
The Game Plan....................37
Healing Moving Forward....................47
The Recruited Mom....................51
Living My Dream....................59
Dumping Family Baggage....................61
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An autobiographical sketch of the writers struggle to raise seven children with abusive husbands and later on her own. You can feel how painful it was for her that life did not pan-out like she had invisioned, however, life never does. Determined to succeed she fines the strength to press on. I did not find a plot. It is really out of place in this particular genre. Riddled with errors; a ghost writer would have done this story justice.