My Mother Teresa…

Ethel, Toby, Eunice, Syd
Ethel, Toby, Eunice, Syd

I have been blessed with two mothers.

Ethel Edwards came into our lives when I was an infant.

Little did I know that she would be a long term, integral part of our family.

Ethel has always meant the world to me. She was the kindest, sweetest, most compassionate woman I have ever known.

Other then begrudgingly admitting to aches and pains in her 90’s, she was unfailingly positive and happy.

She possessed a smile and laugh that illuminated a room.

Joye (daughter), Tenisha (granddaughter), Ethel
Joye (daughter), Tenisha (granddaughter), Ethel

She raised three amazing children…four if you count me.

She loved her club dates, playing bingo, her church and her bedtime tumbler of Manischewitz wine.

Ethel taught me how to walk, cook and master the dying art of ironing men’s boxer shorts.

Ethel was addicted to the Secret Storm soap opera. She passed it on and I am a closet Young and the Restless fan all due to Ethel. I would sit between her legs and she would explain plot lines and provide the backstory that honestly went over my 5 year-old head.

I subconsciously retained the information and I do believe that the Housewives franchises stole liberally from Ethel’s favorite soap operas.

Ethel’s most important lesson was teaching me to never to judge a person by the color of their skin.

She was always there to help me navigate any challenges. Ethel was the voice of reason.

Ethel could have cared less about football, but was unfailingly sympathetic when the NY Giants lost. She even went so far as to defend the Giants to her son, Ricky, who reveled in being a Giant hater.

Shirley Temple Doll
Shirley Temple Doll

One of her first acts of heroism was rescuing my Shirley Temple doll from drowning.

My entire life at the time was wrapped up in Santa delivering Shirley. My wish was granted and of course I had to immediately push the boundaries and see if I could re-do Shirley Temple’s world famous curly ‘do. I failed dreadfully.

To this date, I am still gifted when it comes to styling hair. Nevertheless, Ethel resuscitated Shirley and restored her to her original glory.

She taught me how to dance Calypso as soon as I was steady on my feet. I remember calling her from Jamaica, a country she spent many years living. Courtny was 2 years-old and we were staying at a resort. The sounds of island music was pervasive and intoxicating. You were compelled to move to the beat.

Several of the musicians approached me saying, “Miss, we just had to tell you that you do not dance like a white wo-man!” I was so flattered. I had to call Ethel and tell her that her dance pupil had surpassed her greatest expectations.

She ignited my interest in cooking.

She made the best darn chicken soup and her creation of chicken rolled in corn flake crumbs was my favorite for decades. Her brisket was first class, her Cuban inspired brown rice insane. We would go apple picking and she would make the best apple pie. Her french fries were da bomb.

She was always there. I missed her when she went home on Sundays and every other Thursday.

She has been at every major event in my life.

Ethel Edwards
Ethel Edwards

I just cannot imagine life without my Ethel.

God needed Ethel to calm this turbulent world. She was our Mother Teresa who always gave selflessly to our family. She was my mother’s best friend, my father’s defender and my ‘other’ mother…a beloved, deeply religious woman…a dear, sweet friend and mother.

Boobala, I miss you so much already. I wish I could have just one last Calypso dance with you and listen to the jingle jangle of your arm full of magical bracelets.


  1. Marley Brant says:

    A lovely, moving tribute. She sounds like a wonderful, inspiring woman. I’m sure Ethel is smiling down on you right now.

    • Marley, your note really touched me…how very kind and thoughtful of you to reach out. I am so glad that Ethel’s essence was able to be conveyed through my words. Thank you very much.

  2. Joanne Smith says:

    Very touching.

  3. She is you.. As One…
    So much Love Toby …A Mother Love is infinite, timeless, profound , compassionate,unconditional.
    Her face is full of Love…
    You are a Loving Mother to your daughter because you have been blessed with Loving Mothers…

    • Yes. I have been blessed with incredible maternal love from my fabulous grandmother, mother and my other mother, Ethel. Nothing is better than a mother’s love, respect and dedication. My relationship with my daughter is life sustaining, filled with mutual respect and love. Thank you for reaching out.

  4. So sorry to hear this news…just spoke to your Mom the other day and she told me that she had been visiting Ethel every day in the hospital. She was such a dear part of your family… thoughts are with you and your Mom.

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