When I was a little girl, a picture on my mother’s dresser was haunting and mysterious. It was a black and white image of a beautiful brick building. Inscribed at the bottom, it said, “Rohrman Cottage, Baptist Orphanage, Philadelphia, PA.”
I would stare at the frame, unable to understand why the place was important to her. As ever-present as the image was, my mother always guarded her story. If she mentioned her childhood, she quickly moved on to something else. “One day, I will tell you all about it. Not now...”
Through the years, I have heard vignettes of her life experience and wondered, What was it like? How did it feel to live that experience? Hers was a childhood that reflected a Dicken’s experience. One full of tragedy but that she survived along with her siblings growing up in a Baptist orphanage. Despite it all, somehow, my mother was able to maintain her sense of humor and her sense of hope.
For years, I have listened and done my best to comprehend what her life must have been like. Through my writing, I have tried to extract the lessons, the pain, and the beauty of her experience. To dig into her life, so that I may have a better sense of who I am.