Honoring Mothers Both Deceased and Alive

As I look back in retrospect at the decades that I have contributed and considered issues, ideas, and individuals in my weekly column in The Dillon Herald, arguably, one of my most anticipated and favorite subjects has pertained to mothers and Mother’s Day. Invariably, this enthusiasm and joy (that springs eternally within me to celebrate motherhood) stems primarily from the experiences and fond memories that are etched in my mind about my mother, Mrs. Marie Smith Goings. Only the Lord has played a more significant role in helping to shape my life from conception to this present time. Quite a few of my articles over the years that pertained to Mother’s Day have featured some very courageous and outstanding mothers and grandmothers. One highlighted and praised some of the mothers who I was very familiar with who lived in our locale and were either widowed or single. These mothers stood out because they single handedly, through the grace of God, raised a house full of children without practically any governmental assistance. Included among these outstanding mothers were women like: Mrs. Ida Mae Ford (14 children), Mrs. Inez Lytch (11 children), Ms. Henretta Charles (11 children), Ms. Lorene Harley (12 children), Ms. Christine Inman (8 children), Ms. Annie M. Townsend (8 children), Mrs. Gilbertine McEachern (7 children), and quite a few others who I do not have the space to include in this article. The thing that stood out about these remarkable women (whether they were widowed, divorced, or single) was their devotion to their children and determination to keep them clothed, fed, warm in the winter, and living in decent lodging. Furthermore, they did their level best to send their children to school to get as much education as opportunity would afford them. Also, in most cases, these mothers either took their children or sent them to church on Sunday mornings.
What I remember well about most of these heroic mothers (who raised their children without child support from the fathers who were either deceased or deadbeat dads) was their willingness to sacrifice and work hard to provide for their children. Some did seasonal work on farms. They harvested tobacco, picked cotton, and cucumbers, while others toiled in the homes of Whites who were able to employ them to clean their houses, cook, and often help with the rearing of their children. Then, there were a few who had entrepreneurial ambitions and skills. These industrious and resourceful women, who were ahead of their time, took in laundry (washed, dried, and ironed it). They baked cakes and pies and cooked whole meats for certain affluent families. Some of these motherly heroines learned the skill of being a beautician (hair stylist) through either going to a trade school or being self-taught. Most did their business right from their own homes. The history and narratives of the African American subculture in America is rich and replete with virtuous, valiant, and vicarious mothers who, against all odds, triumphed. Despite the fact of having to often do it without the help of their children’s father, these warrior mothers faced the giants of daddy desertion, death of a spouse, poverty, illiteracy, racism, and often public criticism, gossip, and slander. Nevertheless, with God’s help, they slew these giants and raised their children to be good and decent citizens. I am not exaggerating, fabricating, or attempting to add a little intrigue to what I am saying here. I attended both school and church with many of the children who were brought up by mothers without the aid of their fathers. These individuals turned out well and often better than some who had their fathers living in the same house with them.
Most of the mothers and grandmothers who I am speaking about today have passed into eternity, leaving behind them a rich legacy and example for the mothers of today to imitate. They have bequeathed to the mothers of this generation, who are facing problems and perplexities that are waxing worse and worse in regard to child rearing, practices and principles that are time tested and divinely inspired. They will work when they are practiced with persistence. Invariable, the most effective is love. Mothers must demonstrate unconditional love toward their children. Unconditional love does not endorse or agree with them when they are wrong. It tells them the truth and demonstrates love toward them, even when they are wrong. They must dare to discipline (not abuse) because effective mothering is not for cowards. They must establish and enforce the fact that they are mothers before they are friends to their children.
All of the effective women who excelled at being mothers, whether married or single, had these two things in common that I will end with today. First, they were not women of double standards who failed to be an example to their children. Though not perfect (as none of us can be), they lived a life before their children that was without reproach and therefore, worthy of imitation.
Finally, they believed in praying for their children and providing for them to the best of their ability.

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