Tag Archives: Nou bèl. Nou la!

Joyeuse fête des mères

The benefit of being a Haitian Mom living in the United States of America is we get to celebrate Mother’s Day twice a year.  Staunch nationalists expect their “Joyeuse fête des mèresbouquets on the last Sunday in May. Today is a sort of dress rehearsal for the real thing: remembering the generations of women who birthed us and birthed in us the memories and customs we must impart to our children with their shiny, hyphenated cultural identities. Happy Mother’s Day anyway!

Last week, a friend adopted two children who had been in foster care far too long. What a joyous Mother’s Day this must be in that house! Another friend traveled thousands of miles—over the course of many years—to adopt two orphaned children who had stolen her heart. Happy Mother’s Day, Ladies! You have changed the trajectory of your babies’ lives.
On the other side of happiness is the grief that comes from losing a child. I know women who have yet to stop crying. Friends and families do their best to pretend Mother’s Day is insignificant, but facts are hard to ignore. You are still Mom, even when your child is gone. Your babies love and remember you. They are with you today.

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms whose children are incarcerated. They made bad decisions or were in the wrong place at the wrong time, leaving you to wonder where you went wrong. You are still Mom. Keep on being the pillar you are.

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms who genuinely regret mistreating their children when they were young.  May your children forgive you; may you learn to forgive yourself!

Happy Mother’s Day to elderly Moms whose adult children now cast them aside. You’re in your seventies and eighties today. The children for whom you would have died a thousand times now believe they are too sophisticated to be associated with you. You did your best. That manual about how to be the perfect parent burned the day the sun came into existence. Keep on living, Dear. They’ll come around. And if they don’t, oh well. . .

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms who are no longer with us. May your children trust that you do look upon them constantly! You loved them then and always will.

I inherited my grandmother’s Bible, after she passed away in 2012. She used the Book as a sort of safe deposit box for treasured pictures, scraps of papers with telephone numbers scribbled on them, and the Mother’s Day card I gave her when ten thousand years ago. That card depicts a bouquet of bearded irises—like the ones in my garden that I have to divide constantly, lest they take over the yard and every inch of our house. I must have chosen the card because the flowers were like nothing I had ever seen. Finding that card in her Bible explained my obsession with irises. They are delicate and yet unrelenting as a grandmother’s love.

It’s been five years since my beloved Grandmère passed away. We are closer than ever. Happy Mother’s Day, Nennenn! She would be proud to know that irises which I cultivate now adorn one public park, the median between a pretty lake and its admirers, as well as several private gardens.

Earlier this week, I forbade my daughter, Pititfi, to join her friends in the park until she cleaned her room. She was miffed. To express her displeasure, she handed me a Mother’s Day card she had made, saying: “I was saving this card to give to you on Haitian’s Mother’s day. But since you won’t let me play with my friends, I want you to have the card NOW!”

I cried tears of joy.  Don’t you dare tell her that her punishment didn’t work.  Happy Mother’s Day and Joyeuse fête des mères to you!

ADOPTED from Haiti

Si Gen TravayLoss is universal. So is betrayal. So is revenge. So is hope. So is love. And so is redemption.

Some of us in the diaspora experience a level of homelessness, even if we have a home Here and another There. We are aliens, some legal, some illegal; both now too foreign for either place. The hyphen between the words Haitian and that other nationality is more than a border-less bridge.  Those who left by choice use hope and excitement as guides. Those who were forced to leave are led by a host of other emotions. As the years slip away, voluntary immigrants learn the macabre anthem of the exiled. There is evidence of rot and mold on every fruit and slice of bread on ex-pats’ dining tables.

And then there’s that other story. The one you’ve always known, but not really. You’ve heard about children being adopted by foreigners, some legally. Others not quite so legally. It happens all the time. Another adoption will take place before you finish reading this story. Eyes at half-mast stare at the realities festering in our homeland. We don’t want to remember. Secretly, we wish the children well. We hope they are better off–in that other place–with grownups who selected them (for all the right reasons). We tell ourselves it’s really all fiction. This sort of thing does not happen in the civilized world. But it happens across the civilized world every day.

Adopted children have a particular way of growing up. Some accept the hard light cast on their personal truths. Some are grateful to the moms and dads who chose to love them as their very own.

Some run.

girl christening clothesBut when a girlchild feels in her blood that she does not belong where she is told she belongs, an intense hunger takes root. When she finds herself feeling like an alien in the only home she’d ever known—with parents whose physical characteristics she does not share at all—she asks difficult questions that yield difficult answers. When nothing matters but uncovering the absolute truth, however searing or elusive, she dives heart first into the unknown. Hope is now her guide. Fear, like a royal guard, stands close by–pretending to be idle.

Judith Craig Morency’s Adopted ID is the story of a woman reaching with tentative fingers into her secret and possibly horrifying past. Follow this link to the Voicesfromhaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La! INNERview page, and read Morency’s own words in “Chapter One: The Return”

Sending you love and more of it,









Remembering September 11, 2001

september-11What were you doing when American Airlines Flight Number Eleven flew into the North Tower, hurling unsuspecting victims into a death so certain and senseless that the world shivered with shock?

Were you having breakfast? Pancakes? Leftovers from the Chinese place around the corner? Were you arguing with a friend about a football game? The Giants? The Eagles? The Redskins? What were you wearing? Had you awaken with a sense that some strange thing would happen that day? I didn’t.

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Call of the Drum Spirit is TONIGHT

Happy Frisner. Photo by Chantal Regnault, early 1980s, Brooklyn

Happy Frisner. Photo by Chantal Regnault, early 1980s, Brooklyn

Tomorrow is not promised, so hurry up and find something ‘health-giving’ that you can love enough to stay awake past the world’s bedtime.

People are too busy with their own issues to care if your shoes don’t match your handbag. So, skip the shoes and the baggage.  Bring your troubles to the drums and dance like you’re Jean Léon Destiné and Prince combined.

Organized chaos is the new calm, so sing like you’re Adele Addison, Riva Precil, Pauline Jean, Tiga, and Paul Beaubrun all rolled into one.

Master Drummer, Catelus "Ti Tonton" Laguerre. Photo credit: Kesler Pierre

Master Drummer, Catelus “Ti Tonton” Laguerre. Photo credit: Kesler Pierre

If for ten thousand reasons you find that you must cry, do it with all the joy you can fake.

And if by some necessary coincidence you should find yourself in Brooklyn, NY, tonight, run to Roulette.  Lose all preconceived notions about Haiti and Haitian Drum Music.

Ditch that inhibition. Overindulge in rhythm. Tonight’s celebration features the BONGA and TIGA. Father and Son musical geniuses.

Photo credit: Tequila Minsky

Photo credit: Tequila Minsky

Two years ago I found myself at the First Annual Call of the Drum Spirit by accident. I can still feel that night’s vibrations. If you can make it to Roulette tonight, consider yourself among the fortunate.

When Master Drummer Frisner Augustin passed away in 2012, he left a palpable void in the community. Patrick LaFrance, one of the founding members of the Gran Chimen cultural center in Brooklyn, remembers the legend as a humble man with an enormous sense of humor.

Photo by Lois Wilcken, asotò drum image from Alfred Métraux, design by Kesler Pierre,

Photo by Lois Wilcken, asotò drum image from Alfred Métraux, design by Kesler Pierre,

“He played from his soul,” Patrick said. “Frisner would share his knowledge with anyone who wanted to learn the drum.  Sunday afternoons , you know, in Brooklyn, can be tough. With Monday morning’s realities coming,  you need a distraction. Frisner would show up at the center, and it was like medicine. We waited all week just to hear him play and teach us a few things. Frisner brought the Lakou to Brooklyn.  Sundays were good with Frisner around.”

Well, thanks to Lois Wilkens and a fierce ensemble of drummers, this Saturday night may be the best Sunday afternoon yet.

voicesfromhaiti photo

voicesfromhaiti photo









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