Reginald Mason grew up in Harlem during the 1970s.
He came to StoryCorps to talk about his mother, Sarah Lee Watson, who raised him as a single parent.
Click here for the transcript.
She was very strict. The first time my mother told me that she actually loved me I was 32. You know, and growing up, she couldn't handle the household financially, so I remember many months with no lights, and, you know, being laughed at in school for wearing blue and black mismatched socks.
And she would just try to compensate. She would just buy a whole lot of candles and try to make it so I can at least get dressed for school and have something to eat.
You know, when you start living off ketchup and hot water and black bean soup, and it's all you can afford, you start to think I don't want to go back to this.
The jobs that she was doing were tearing her body down. So, I was headed for the streets. I needed to make some fast money. And I did--I was hustling.
And I knew if she saw me, she'd pin me down. So, I just avoided her. You know, I'd have people in the streets say, "Your mom is coming," [and I'd] run around the corner.
But, years later, I worked for the Department of Sanitation, worked for the post office, and I went to college.
Now my mother--she's in a nursing home. I go every Sunday, and I take the paper and I read to her--she's blind. I remember when I was telling my mother that I got promoted. She took her glasses off --like she could see-- and she said one line, "It all paid off." And she was right.