Dedan K. Bruner
A Tribute to Sherry Freeman
My mom is my greatest example of unconditional love and self-sacrifice. My mother was 16 going on 17 when I was born, and she was determined to give me the best life and opportunities that she could. Fortunately, we lived with my great-grandmother and other extended family, so with childcare not being an issue, my mother worked two to three jobs until I was in high school, so that she could go back to college to improve her job opportunities.
Even with all of this working, she made sure to carve out quality time for us to have special experiences. For instance, she took me to see my first Alvin Ailey show, which became an annual tradition. I also remember going to a Nutcracker tea party at the Four Seasons, yoga class, black art exhibits, picnics, and bike rides on Kelly Drive, and poetry readings. My mom also sent me to different summer and after-school camps for STEM, drama, dancing, gymnastics, and entrepreneurship. These events and classes were a direct result of the multiple jobs my mom worked and exposed me to a world outside of my North Philly neighborhood.
Even at a young age, I could see the sacrifices my mom was making and she never made me feel indebted to her or gave me a guilt trip about it. She always told me that it was her job to be the best mother she could be and my job was to make the best of those opportunities, particularly since so many around me were not as fortunate. Being exposed to so many things has really shaped the person who I am. My mother’s love and support have given me the confidence to try new things and explore career opportunities and not be fearful to take chances, which is invaluable.
One of the ways I try to incorporate this with my daughter is to make sure that she has a variety of experiences so that she has exposure to different things that are playful and educational. Even at her young age (she just turned 2), it is amazing to see the amazement and wonder in her eyes as she does new things and sees things for the first time. I only hope to give my daughter the same loving experiences that my mom gave me and the wonderful memories that come along with it.