Monday, August 15, 2011

Remembering the Help

Have you seen The Help yet??
Oh my goodness it's wonderful! I laughed
and I cried and left the theater lifted. I thought
of my mom who was a midwife at the age of 16
and became a certified baby nurse and phlebotomist.
She and my dad where very young and coming from
the south they had to find work and quick. My mom
got hired by a very wealthy family in Upstate New York.
She was the help for their family. Her main job was
to care for a little boy named Danny. I still have the
picture of my mom holding Danny. Faded now, they had a sweet
relationship she said. She was a live in nurse and stayed with
Danny during the week and went home to be with my Dad on
weekends. Danny got so attached that sometimes she
brought him home over the weekend when his parents
were traveling. She had a great relationship with Danny's folks
as well. My mom became pregnant with me and as her
belly got bigger it got harder to carry little Danny.
Sometimes Danny would forget and call my mom, Mommy.
This of course didn't set well with Danny's parents.
Soon it really became a problem and there was a really
nasty argument and finally my mom was fired. It was one
of the hardest things she said she ever had to do. Walking away
from Danny broke her heart. A couple of weeks went by
and Danny's parents starting calling. They called everyday
for almost 2 weeks or more. My mom was to hurt to
even answer the phone. One day my mom hears the
doorbell, struggling with big belly, waddles to the door
to find the Ice man standing there with a note in one hand
and a box in the other. I believe it was the Armel Ice Company
that came. The note read, " Shirley, it has not been the same
since we let you go. Danny cried for days and days afterwards.
We are so very sorry. Would you please consider coming
back? We need you. Please expect these gifts." Danny's
parents paid for two years of diaper service and also sent
the most beautiful plaid blue baby carriage ever! My mom
finally spoke to Danny's parents and while all was put right,
she said she just couldn't go back. She told me that she
loved Danny to much and he loved her. Said she
couldn't stand for his heart or hers to be broken again.
My mom shared her stories
about Danny and other children that she helped to care for.
I often wonder where these children are now? Are they doctors,
teachers, Lawyers? Did they get married and have children of
their own? Do they ever think of Miss Shirley? Before their
was a book called , The Help, there was my mom, Miss Shirley.
I miss you mommy and I'm sure there are a bunch of other
babies that miss you too.


Joyce Ann Martin said...

Vanessa, this was such a touching story! Thank you so much for sharing it and your sweet illustration with all of us. Have a wonderful week!

Kaili said...

I loved reading this story about your mother Vanessa!
She sounded like a generous and loving lady! I haven't seen the movie, as it hasn't been released here yet, but it looks amazing! I will definitely be thinking of you and your sweet mum when I see it x

Heather said...

oh i am so delighted that you shared this with us! wow! Yes, I have read the book and am dying to see the movie...what a great story - your mom sounds like she was amazing! your illustration is adorable, too.

Trina said...

Oh! I feel bad that this sweet relationship couldn't carry on because of nonsense.

I'm one of the four people in the States without FB, but I bet you could find Danny there...

rachel awes said...

i'm half-way through reading the help & can't wait to see the movie.
i am so moved about your mom's story. may God bless, even now, the dear relationship-heart of your mom & danny. big love. xoxoX

Ces said...

Aaawwww! What a gut wrenching story. I can imagine! The story reminds me of the remade Artur with Helen Mirren. I often wonder about those parents who hire nanies and then the children get attached to their nanies only because the parents are absent or so busy. I remember my "Yaya", her name was Minggay and I have a photo of her holding my butt-naked infant photo. I often wonder what happened to Minggay.

Your mother's story is sad but also beautiful. Danny had a chance to know a beautiful heart and I can understand why they are so attached because through you, I can feel her love.

Take care dearest Vee! Tsup!

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Why am I not surprised that your Mama had as much extra love to share with children as you do? (why am I not surprised that the people who had hired her did not realize the gem they had.......oy....)
I think one has to have Southern Blood to really realize the true impact of the story, and I do, Vanessa, I DO.
On the up side of all this, your mom got free diaper service and honey, I would have thought of those people at every single change! (if you KNOW what I mean...)
Those who have and can improve the quality of life for those who are working hard need to seriously look at their responsibility. We all are kin to one another....
Love from the little fat bird with the feathers awry and bunny slippers....


Vanessa Brantley Newton said...

Thanks you all for your wonderful comments. Anne I so agree with you. WE ARE ALL KIN. It's really only 6 degrees of separation for most of us. I think it's so precious that children don't see color or age or status. They begin with just seeing people. One of the comments in the movie that stuck with me was when one of the character I believe Minnie talks about how the babies get attached to you and you raise them and then they turn out to be just like their Mama's. They become the bosses or the people in charge. I knew of one young man who was raised by his help and she took him everywhere she went. She never spoke bad about his parents. It was just something that was handed down and they only knew to keep it alive by doing the same. His parents left him alone most of the time with the Maids and Butlers that taught him how to play cards and dance and sing and cook. His Nanny took him to church with her every sunday and he ended up being on the choir and joined the church. He was the only white boy in the choir and the church, but he fit right in. He said that he loved his Mother, but the was all she was. Just a mother. His nanny he called Mama and took care of her until she died. Love is a powerful thing. It's goes past the skin and into the heart and bones of a person.

Melinda Stanley said...

That is the most heart-warming story I've ever read and the illustration is equally so and so so sweet! It's easy to see that your Mom was a truly wonderful person, Vanessa. I'm sure all those children remember your Mother fondly and have grown up to be exceptional human beings. :)

yoborobo said...

V - this story, well it makes me choke up. It makes me love your mom a whole bunch, and it makes me crazy at how stupid people can be (and still are). I grew up in the south, and I remember things from when I was little, not all of them good. Love comes in all sizes and all colors. Thank God! It would be a boring place to live otherwise. :)) I have been wanting to see this movies for months! Thank you for sharing your story. xoxo!

Eric Barclay said...

Love it love it love it!

Shirley said...

Your mother is a gift to so many, Vanessa..she still is. She (through your sweet and lovely illustration) has touched my heart. I can't imagine how hard it was for her and Danny. What a life she to others, and to her family first and foremost. I tell you, she is a gem, as you are, and I know she is smiling upon her baby star, YOU! Big hugs to you!

Michaele Razi said...

Wow! That story was so sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. I'm glad your mother had the insight to take of herself. Definitely will check out the movie. Kisses!

k.h.whitaker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamara Henderson said...

Hey Vanessa, thanks for sharing your story about your mother. Your illustration is wonderful it shows how much your mother and Danny loved it other. I haven't seen the movie yet but I would love too.

salli s. swindell said...

vanessa you are such an animated, straight-from-the-heart storyteller. what a gift. your illo and your words bring your mom to life for all of us!

Indigene said...

Beautiful illustration! Well, I absolutely knew that your Mom was wonderful, she had this amazing daughter, named, Vanessa! Big hugs, beloved!

Vanessa Brantley Newton said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful comments everyone. I'm getting better with my grammatical errors he he he he he! Hey, I'm an artist first LOL! Best to all of you.

Mechelle said...

I look forward to seeing that movie. I heard the author tried sixty times to publishers before the manuscript was finally accepted.

That would be interesting to see where Danny is now.

Kelly Light said...

Your Mom was such a gift V! Just like you!

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Carin Bramsen said...

I'm not surprised either that your mom was an exceptional, loving, amazing, generous woman! This is such a moving story, and a beautiful illustration.

Kay Aker said...

What a compeling and beautiful story and image!

Missy said...

What a beautiful post and such a wonderful illustration to go along with it.

D Hawk said...

Long time no contact! I hope you remember me, you sent me a message telling me not to appologize for how much I charge for illustrating a book. You never cease to amaze me with your work. I love the colors and the drawing technique, they are so fun. Well I've been off for a while and now I am back. I hope to get more tips from you. Take care.

michael robertson said...

what an amazing story, Vanessa! That sounds like a movie in and of itself. I just love visiting your site-you're always guaranteed a great story, a chuckle and of course-a fantastic visual! Have a great weekend.

AtelierBrigitte said...

Just a sweet illustration.

Mechelle said...

Vanessa I finally have the computer all to myself. My kids are in their second week of school.

Jennifer Noel Bower said...

What a touching story about your mother, how she influenced the lives of others and how her journey was imparted on you. My daughter is 'bi-racial' (I hate that word) and we talk often about how blessed she is to have been born into this generation because 'no one makes no mind' as our Auntie Carrie used to say. I have been blessed that my own parents have been my 'HELP' in raising my little bean. You capture such love in everything you do and what a great tribute to your Mom.

Nina Mata said...

That felt like and epilogue to the book, only closer felt somehow..Just finished reading the book. I sure hope the movie is just as good!

froggie said...

wow! an excellent story, vbn! AND OHMYGOODNESS didn't you JUST get outta NJ in time? you missed the um, shaking china cabinets? here it was BOOKSHELVES, naturally! that was sooooo bizarre!

ty for the visit as always - another lovely lovely vbn illio and i can't wait to get my hands on the bob marley book! me fav tunes! "-)) hope you are very well and safe in your new digs, vb!


Dennis Salvatier said...

I haven't seen the film, but I love this illo. And I love the story about your mom. It reminds a lot of my own mom. She ran a daycare and had lots of babies around all the time. I remember Joel, Carlitos, Bailey, and all the rest. When I lived with my parents we had foster kids and two brothers who came to live with us became like little brothers to me. We took them to Disneyland and other outings. One day they were adopted along with their two sisters by a loving couple who didn't want them to be separated. As you can imagine it broke my heart to see them go and when I spoke to them on the phone they were so blatantly honest about being happy and glad they live with their new parents. It broke my heart again so I decided to let them go. I still think about them and I know Frank and Anthony are happy and that's all that matters.

Kathy Weller said...

You have singlehandedly made me want to see The Help movie now! The story looks very good but the movie looks so, well, shiny and pretty! (Just like Hollywood makes movie look! LOL). Oh well, I'll see it now, thanks to you.
What a touching and beautiful story, of course made oh so bittersweet by the depth of the reality. Thanks for sharing.

Bella Sinclair said...

What a beautiful story about your mother and a love-filled illustration. I have no doubt that your mother was as amazing as all that and more. My heart breaks at the thought of little Danny crying for days on end. I'm sure it broke your mother's heart too.

I read the book and absolutely LOVED it. I think it should be required reading in every high school. Can't wait to see the movie!

Laura Zarrin said...

Your mom sounds wonderful! I'm sure all the children she cared for always carried her in their hearts.The Help book and movie were wonderful! I love books that takes me into a world I had no idea about.

This Time Now said...

That was beautifully written and a I thank you for sharing it with all of us.
I just found your blog because of someone leaving a comment on my blog. Don't you just love great discoveries?

Nita Jo said...

Thank you for sharing this story. Your mom must have been one amazing lady. The Help is on my list of "must see" movies, but since I don't get out of the house much I'm hoping it comes to DVD soon.

I've been catching up on your posts. I was so sorry to read about the loss of your Grammy, and about your fall. I love the collage of the Berthas, Bettys and Bellauhs and look forward to seeing the nesting dolls. Your blog always cheers me! Thank you!

kylie@oneredfox said...

Yes I watched The Help it was wonderful so uplifting! Your personal story just makes it so much deeper and meaningful thank you for sharing. Poor little babies loosing such important people in their lives.

Aleksandra Micic said...

Dear Vanessa, I am so happy to have found your blog and am so happy to learn about the blessings you had in your mom and still have. Thank you so much for telling us about her letting us feel the greatness of her love through you. Her love is shown through all the love you are transfering to us through your beautiful illustrations. Stay blessed as you are!