Blessed morning to you if you find this read today! This is my very first blogging post and I am a little excited and scared! I feel like a newborn baby about to get burped for the first time….ahh, relief. I have such a passion for cooking and have my wonderful mother Gerotha Lee Marlow to thank for instilling this in me. She is the sweetest and most humble Southern Belle you could ever meet. She is my Queen whom I adore her so much and I dedicate my first post to the awesomeness that is my Mother. I also dedicate this to my Father in Heaven whom is my constant guardian angel!
Ever since I was 4 years old, I had a step stool and would be right up underneath my mom, trying to soak in every bit of knowledge about frying chicken one could consume! I was flipping pancakes by this time and scrambling eggs like it was my JOB. My mother was an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor for 32 years in the State of New York and I admired her wholeheartedly. She worked so hard to help others and provide for my sister and I. Her heart is so huge, she even took custody of all 3 of my nieces and nephews when help was needed. My father was on disability with severe diabetes and in turn, I made a choice early on to learn about the disease and take preventative measures. I am not even kidding… I started making my own food when I was about 6 because I saw my father near diabetic coma status so many times I refused to let this disease be passed on to me. Genetics play a huge part of diabetes, but diet and lifestyle truly must come to light as well! Take a stand and know that YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Moderation is key people…..not for your waists sake, but for the sake of your health. You have one body. Treat it like your temple and loveeee ittt! <3
For me it wasn’t a chore though…it was time I got to spend with my mom before her graveyard shift. Precious time for me to ask her questions about growing up on a farm in Calabash, NC with 12 other siblings (you heard me right, TWELVE. Heck…I am the baby of EIGHT! My family goes to infinity and BEYONDDDDDD). Cooking with her meant I could learn how to make the best damn macaroni and cheese that you ever had the pleasure of tasting, all while listening to her reminisce about my Grandfather’s Shrimp Boat and the fresh seafood she ate growing up. My Grandfather was the first African American in Brunswick County, NC to be allowed to dock a shrimp boat! For my family, this is a huge testament to our faith and hard work.
Now life wasn’t always easy…..as I mentioned before, my mother took full custody of my 3 nieces and nephew in a time of need. She did not hesitate for a second to take care of her grandchildren and this showed me just how big her heart is. It was a lot…diaper changes and poop wiping while I was 5. Trying to help her get meals ready for not only the kids, but there was my sister, myself, and my father who had to eat as well! But we did it together…as family. It united us and prepared us for the shock of our lives in later years. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was 9 years old when my father suffered a Tia stroke which sent him into early onset Alzheimer’s. Listening to the doctor give that diagnosis felt like a slap in the face. I couldn’t fathom my Dad not remembering my name or who I was at all. Sure enough over the course of the disease, it just got worse. Alzheimer’s not only robs a persons memories, but it overtakes their soul. He wasn’t the man I did dress up for anymore who laughed…he was the angry Vietnam War Veteran who was stuck in war and I was the enemy. It was terrifying, I am not going to lie. But I understood it was the disease and not him, so I chose to forgive him all the time.
With this being said, I will let you know what my father told me the day he died. Now don’t get all teary eyes and think my first blog is just a sob story. I am expressive and I promise Food Recipes and such are the basis of my blog! But you must know who I am….who my father told me I could be.
I woke up one morning in November in 2001 and something in the house just felt different. I was 16 and getting ready for the bus to come (yes, I had NO car and still rode the bus. So embarrassing…but anyways!) when my father called me by my nickname. “CHAR-LEY BUTT, come here for a second please!” My father hadn’t called me by that nickname since before his diagnosis. I prepared myself because in my heart, I knew he was calling me into the living room to say goodbye. He asked me to sit on his lap and gave me the most beautiful advice I keep to this day. Harold Henry Carter Sr. said, and I quote:
“Charmae, I am so proud of you. You have a light about you that you get from your mother and I adore that about you. I want you to know how much I love you and how much I appreciate you helping your mother take care of me for all these years. You are young so listen wisely. You have one life to live kiddo…do what you want! Don’t let others take your pride from you. You work so hard for everything you want,, get good grades and give your mother respect. If you decide you want to do Broadway…DO IT. If you want to cook and open a restaurant with your mother and grandmother’s recipes, let NO one stop you. If you want to be the first Female Black President, go for it. Life is too short to be anything but happy, so live your life the way YOU see fit. I love you so much kiddo….I’m gonna miss the hell out of you.”
I was like POPS I WILL SEE YOU LATER!! Denial, denial, denial sunk in…..
I got the call about 5 hours later at school and was sent home to find out about his passing. I guess the lesson in this first blog is simple: life is short people. Hug your loved ones and laugh about the stupid things. Call your friends you haven’t spoken to in a while and catch up with a simple hello. Smile at strangers in passing because you never know someones inner battles. At the end of the day, I have decided to take my fathers words of wisdom to carry me into success. It is my life and it is a beautiful one I have. Happy Tuesday folks and I look forward to sharing my culinary passions with you!!!!