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The mother says to her son that life has not been a “crystal stair” – it has had tacks and splinters and torn boards on it, as well as places without carpet. The stair is bare. However, she still climbs on, reaching landings, turning corners, and persevering in the dark when there is no light. She commands him, “So boy, don’t you turn back.” She instructs him not to go back down the stairs even if he thinks climbing is hard. He should try not to fall because his mother is still going, still climbing, and her life “ain’t been no crystal stair.”
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