I was living with my mother in New Jersey at about age nine. Born in Virginia, I was brought to live there as my mother had since remarried and a new family formed. Now, I was of considerable use because there were four children, and another one on the way. Each afternoon, my mother would take the youngest two children to a back bedroom for their nap as I did my chores. The apartment was on the third floor of the building with three bedrooms and a long hallway and a staircase that led down. My chores were to do laundry, sweep, dust and clean the bathrooms. However, when it was time for my mother to go with the children for their nap, I would position myself on the top seat of the stairs where I could listen to the stories that she would tell them. These were the stories I had missed being apart from her for all these years. I would listen to her melodious voice and cling to each word as if she were telling them to only me. Sometimes, I would cry. Flushed by my emotion , and a sense of reality that time had gone by, and I would never get it back , I resumed my chores.