By Cheryl Smith, Publisher
I talked to one of my mother’s best friends over the weekend. I always check on her and a few others because they now get the Mother’s Day calls that I can’t make to my mother.
Virginia Magee is really sweet. While there are other friends I can recall who Mother had known since she was a teenager, Virginia is someone she met and they would hang out together for decades until my mother’s passing in 2014. My mother and Virginia went to church at the historic New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.
They attended events with other senior citizens, were active in the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP branches, and they had their regular “therapy” sessions in Atlantic City. Virginia even traveled with my mother to Dallas for the Don’t Believe the Hype Celebrity Bowl-a-Thon around 2000.
Then after Mother relocated to Dallas in 2012, Virginia returned to Dallas to spend quality time with her. They were friends til the end. I thank Virginia for being a friend to my mother, and I will cherish and respect her forever. You see, I’m so glad that I have friends of my mother who I respect and can talk to. Her friends help me, especially during those times when all I can do is breathe heavily and say a prayer.
Which brings me to my truth.
About 29 years ago, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price introduced me to Vera English. A very stylish woman, Vera was an entrepreneur. The owner of Pink Palace, a beauty salon in Oak Cliff, Vera has won numerous hair competitions and when I need my hair/scalp taken care of, I see her. But then again, I see her for more than hair treatment.
Vera, much like my mother’s friend, Virginia, is a source of inspiration, support, guidance and love. She speaks truth to power, and more importantly, truth to my heart. I don’t worry about whether or not she is telling the truth or whether she has a hidden agenda, or an ulterior motive. I know that Vera is the real deal. Like my mother and Virginia, Vera loves to dress! She loves to be color coordinated and yes, she can top off the most stylish outfit with a hat.
That hat or headpiece notwithstanding, Vera always made sure that should it blow off your head, the hairstyle underneath was just as glamorous and appealing. Going to the Pink Palace was an escape for me, a place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world. Sure we would have discussions about the troubles of the world, but it was also a place that gave new meaning to the phrase, “let your hair down.”
Sometimes, there would be no talking at all because I would fall asleep as soon as I sat in her chair. And she was fine with that! The Pink Palace was the “no judgment” zone, where women and some men could share thoughts and offer advice, without condemnation or vicious attacks. Sure there were the discussions about politics, education, and world peace. And we talked about raising children, caring for parents, relationships and more.
For some reason, the people who came to Pink Palace and engaged in conversations came with a positive spirit and a respectful tongue. Maybe it was because of the leadership of Vera. Although small in stature, probably standing 4-feet-4-inches in those stiletto heels she loved to strut around in, Vera seemed almost larger than life. Okay, I may be exaggerating. But she is short! “With a big heart.”
And her heart and infinite wisdom have kept my head level many a time. You see, Vera is quiet and unassuming. And while she does not appear to carry a big punch, her actions and demeanor command and receive respect and reverence. She doesn’t have to raise her voice to get your attention. A word to the wise should be sufficient and if you don’t take heed with Vera; it’s all on you because you are definitely operating at a deficit and could end up in a very bad situation. I thank Vera for being my friend, my confidante, my light at the end of a sometimes dark tunnel. I’m talking about unconditional love.