I’m showing some appreciation for Ms. Lula Mae.
Ms. Lula Mae Hardaway was Stevland “Stevie Wonder” Morris’ mother. Her baby Stevie came along six weeks early and suffered a condition in which the retinas of his eyes detached because of the level of oxygen in the incubator. Wonder has mentioned that this was not uncommon for premature babies to experience in the 1950s. Not uncommon…let that sink in for a second.
Here we are living in a time where an illness about which we are still learning is being seen on a daily basis. And we know that structural racism makes it much more difficult for Black folks to survive it. Yet, here we are. You and I. Thinking about what Mother’s Day was like and Stevie Wonder’s career. Now imagine Wonder’s mother, a songwriter herself, with a family, giving birth to this little boy six weeks before he was due to arrive. Lula Mae’s baby boy then goes into an incubator and the journey that was raising Stevie Wonder began. There was just so much she didn’t know. You know what she did know? That baby came on May 13th. In 1950, May 13th was the second Saturday of the month which means Mama Wonder woke up the next day and it was Mother’s Day. I like to think that in the face of those medical challenges and unknowns, she stood firm and made a decision. And that decision was to have joy inside any tears. She poured life forth and put her talents, gifts and skills to work for Little Stevie and the whole family. As his first co-writer, we owe her thanks for the Wonder musical mastery we have enjoyed for decades.