Cheryl Francis Harrington checked into GH as Irene to help Curtis choose between life and death.
After being shot, Curtis ends up on the operating table on General Hospital. He visited a dreamlike realm in which he spent time with his late mother, Irene, played by Cheryl Francis Harrington. The guest actress gave us all the feels as Irene comforted her son when he needed it the most.
Cheryl Francis Harrington – Performer of the Week
We don’t know whether Curtis (Donnell Turner) was dreaming or truly visiting someplace between life and death but there was no denying the joy he felt upon reconnecting with his mom. In his mind, he created an idyllic reunion in a park, having a picnic with his mom. “Curtis Ashford! Did you eat all the potato salad again?” Curtis heard his mom say in that scolding but loving way that only moms can do. “I swear — next time I’m going to put a padlock on the container.”
Harrington immediately brought to life (no pun intended) Curtis’s dream version of his mother. Her smiling face clearly indicated Irene’s not only fondness but deep love for her son. “Are you all right? Do you feel sick?” Irene asked her son, prompting Curtis to well up. (Who else cares about you not feeling well like your mom does?) Asked if she was really real, Irene rhetorically replied, “Baby, where else would I be?”
Irene didn’t ask why Curtis was so much older than the last time she probably saw him — that wasn’t important to Curtis. All that mattered to him was that he was able to spend time with his late mother. A slightly hesitant Irene asked Curtis to help her with one of those mundane tasks in life that most of us deal with at one point or another (checking the engine light on her car). We could see Curtis (Donnell Turner, who also did outstanding work in these scenes) lament that this wasn’t real but he’d give anything to go back to the day that this moment occurred. We saw him playing regret and also savoring getting to have this conversation with his mom.
Back in the operating room, Curtis’s vitals were dropping. As he started to lean more towards the afterlife, Irene said softly to her son, “Come. Be here. We’ll go see [your brother] Tommy together.” Curtis then clasped his mother’s hand — as he headed into the light?
Irene was elated to learn that she had a granddaughter — Trina (Tabyana Ali) — after Curtis called out her name. Next, Irene tried to lead Curtis out of the park so they could see Tommy. However, Curtis realized that leaving the metaphysical park was metaphorical; if he did go, he’d be giving up his chance to return to Trina and Portia (Brook Kerr).
“You’re not going to stay with us, are you?” an understanding Irene lamented. She urged her son not to feel bad and not to say goodbye. “Say…’until we meet again.’ I’m so proud of you Curtis. If only I had been as strong as you are, I would have met Trina. It’s time for you to go back.”
Next, Curtis got to do what many of us would love to be able to experience — have one more hug from his mother. “I love you, too…I love you, too…” Irene tearfully said in response to Curtis telling his mom he loved her. She stepped away from her son as Irene literally faded from our screens — and, once again, out of Curtis’s life.
Brava to Cheryl Francis Harrington who stepped into the role of Irene and quickly established a maternal bond with Turner’s Curtis. Unlike actors who have the benefit of creating bonds with other characters, because they play them over an extended period of time, Harrington came in and did all that in one episode.