Feeling Grateful for My Mother

by on April 30, 2021 · 6 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

I’ve been thinking about my mother as Mother’s Day nears, wearing that smile she wore when I brought home good grades, or had done a good deed, or scored a bunch of baskets.

Hers was a beautiful smile, befitting a beautiful woman.

And, I can see her not smiling, too, standing with her hands on her hips, flashing me a look that could change a charging lion’s mind, when I had crossed a line.

The biggest line for me to cross with her was lying. That was a felony in her mind. Now, I’m not talking about one of those “No ma’am, that wasn’t me who ate all the cookie dough” kind of little white lie.

No. I’m talking about being about seven or eight years old, and for some reason, I still don’t know why, leaving home at daybreak and returning after dark, saying to my mom, “Granddaddy said I could” and saying to my grandfather, “Mom said I could.”

They conferred for a moment, like I should have known they would, like referees looking at a replay and then came at me like linebackers blitzing a quarterback and wore out my behind, only one of about three times I was ever struck in a home where problems were dealt with calmly. Verbally.

“If we can’t trust each other how can we call ourselves a family?” I remember my mother saying to me.

I’m so grateful to have had her as a mother, grateful that she valued me, listened to me, asked for my opinion, grateful that she didn’t adhere to “children should be seen and not heard,” as she didn’t shoo me away when she had company.

And I loved listening to her and her friends with their ongoing conversations about their experiences with “Miss Ann” and “Mr. Charlie”: “Girl, I ain’t never bit my tongue so hard in my life. I wanted to slap that ‘heifer’ silly, talkin’ ‘bout I hadn’t cleaned the carpet good enough after her nasty-ass kids had made a mess right after I had finished. She can kiss my black behind! And I told her so, too.”

“Girl, no you didn’t.”

“Well, I sure wanted to.”

I loved it. Sometimes they’d look at me and say “Charles” (I went by middle name back then), you better get yourself a good education, so you don’t have to take no shit off White folks!”

“Yes, ma’am, I will.” And I did, and doing so came natural to me because my mother was always talking to me about “when you go to college,” as if doing so was as inevitable as the wind blowing across the lake in Chicago.

I’m grateful that my mother taught me not to call Japanese people, “Japs,” that I might want to look another way at those “Injuns” I was shooting everyday as a cowboy hero at play, that you earn folks’ respect when you say things like “Thank you, excuse me, may I, and please” or “Have a good day.”

I’m grateful for her sacrifices for me, the big one turning down nice job opportunities in other cities rather than uprooting me from a community where I felt at ease, grateful that she had faith in me not making what she gave up a big mistake.

Grateful, mostly, that I’m the man she wanted me to be, someone just trying to make the world as loving as it can be.

Just like she did.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar BARBARA LEWIS April 30, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Love this! She was beautiful inside and out “Charles.”

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Avatar Glen Barfield April 30, 2021 at 8:57 pm

Beautiful sentiment, Ernie. Now I know where you got your beautiful smile. Aloha, Glen

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Avatar Willie Horton May 1, 2021 at 1:40 am

Ernie,
Your mother really instilled great values in you!

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Avatar Shirley Sprinkles May 2, 2021 at 8:23 am

She raised a “Giant” of a man!

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Avatar Thomas Gayton May 2, 2021 at 2:07 pm

Your mother is very proud of you for your life and love.

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Avatar Margie May 31, 2021 at 6:59 am

Beautiful!!
Thank you for sharing this loving and touching sentiment. She was a great lady who raised a fantastic man.
There’s no one like a mom??
Love you Ernie !

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