My Hero Wears No Cape

To The Most Beautiful Mind,

Lemme tell y’all ‘bout my momma. Nicole is the craziest, sweetest, stern, most gentle woman I’ve ever known. She owns a black belt in whoopin’ ass, and seemingly like all black women, can’t seem to hold it together during Tyler Perry Movies. Really though, she kicked me in the head once and still swears it was all out of love. Guess love hurts…

Fourteen years ago, Crazy Lady decided to forego her own hopes and dreams, and brought her two little heartbeats to the Land of the Free. She knew nothing about America except for its promise of opportunity, but that was all her babies needed – a chance. But chances are taken, now aren’t they? Unfortunately this wasn’t so apparent while our trio struggled to acclimate to this strange culture. Trial and error, burnt hands, and broken dreams plagued her family as she did her best to make sense of the madness.

The money never came but she kept her faith. Faith in what? She couldn't tell you. Just that “we'll be alright.” Shouldering the blame for relocating twice in the matter of a couple of years, the heart that she so famously wore on her sleeves began to show the pain of a loving mother whose faith was about to waver. Family offered all they could and she reluctantly accepted, knowing that she often had nowhere else to turn to and that no favor is without reward.

Her babies grew into young men, though not without their own flaws. She refused to let them fall, standing by their side, fighting a battle which possessed rules she did not understand. My mother endured criticism and rebuttals from all sides and often found herself playing the role of villain as she ushered her boys to succeed.

And though she didn't have much, Nicole made the ill-advised decision to opened her door -- a door she barely owned -- to a stranger who would become her third son. She asked no questions of his past. She'd seen this story before -- lived it everyday through the eyes of her boys. And thus, in possibly her greatest act to-date, shared what little she had with this kid who did not enjoy the luxury of having his family by his side as he attempted to achieve the American Dream.

Nicole Butts arrived at New York’s JFK International Airport on January 21st, 2003 with her two boys, Marlon and Mario. During the Summer of 2014 she (unofficially) adopted her third son, Gian into her band of misfits. And on Monday January 9th, 2017 she sat in the St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church and watched proudly as the remaining two of her boys became college degree holders. All she ever wanted for her kids was an opportunity. It may not always be a level playing field, but I’m sure she’s proud of her part in creating those odds. We haven’t made it just yet, but we sure are well on our way and that is due to the most beautiful mind of all.