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6 May 2016

Guest Editorial: Strength and Honor are Her Clothing: A Tribute to Our Mom*

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May 6, 2016 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Reynolds Family Christmas 2015. Not pictured, her only brother Angelo Reynolds.

By Blondell Reynolds Brown

Mother, Mommie or Mama, no matter how you say it, there is power and love in the word. For many of us, Mother’s Day is the one day of the year we try to find the perfect words to say thank you to the woman who gave us life (biologically or maternally figures). We yearn to think of words that mildly come close to expressing ‘our gratitude for all that they have done.

As a mother of a 19 year-old, I am still amazed at how my mother did it all for seven children.

She became a widow at 37 years-old when my father suddenly passed away. I was 16 years-old, the oldest of seven, and my youngest sister was 6.  I never remember questioning how we were going to live or whether my siblings and I would be okay. Why?  Because mothers have this unique capacity of shifting the universe, reassuring us without ever saying a word that whatever the circumstance, things will all work out. Of course I didn’t understand any of this until I became an adult and a mother myself.  It wasn’t about why my mother did it all, it was more about the “how!”

I believe being a mother is not about what you sacrifice, but more about what you gain by being an example for your child. You witness their superpowers up close!

Yes, it’s true. Mothers are in fact superheroes.

Annually on New Year’s Day my Mom would require my siblings and I to kneel at her bed while she would start the year with a prayer for the family and always at the end of her prayers she would close with, “Lord Have Mercy.”

The most remarkable memory of my days as the oldest was that we were never permitted to sleep late on Saturdays.  In fact, at 7AM, my Mom would state with authority, “get up and act like you have a job.”  Of course, on Sundays, we were required to go to Sunday school.

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” –Maya Angelou

Here are five reasons my Mom is my Superhero!

1. She raised seven children alone and sent all seven of us to college.  There were three things that were non-negotiable in my Mom’s home: respect, decency, and hard work marked by excellence and completing a college education. Four decades later, I marvel at how she worked three jobs to make sure we all graduated.

2. My Mom expected us to practice Luke 6:31: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” She taught us to be kind; for everyone we meet is fighting a challenge or hard battle and/or facing a difficulty.

3. Her favorite passage of encouragement: “Nothing good or bad last forever.”

Implicit in this passage is the notion that adversity is not the permanent condition of who we are.

Adversity is our greatest teacher. Therefore, we must always seek to be resilient. Realize that those who wrestle with you always will strengthen your nerves and sharpen your skills.  She reminds my siblings and now her grandchildren that we learn little from our victories.  In fact, when we are pushed, tormented, make mistakes or defeated, we do acquire greater knowledge about who we are and what we are made of. Tough experiences teach us that “even the desert blooms after a storm.”

4. “It’s not about you.” – Sadie Reynolds

I was taught, don’t just look back, reach back.  I got the meaning of this and a rude awakening my last semester of graduate school. I called home and told my mother that I found a job and had signed up for the Peace Corps.  She reminded me that I had three sisters in college and three siblings waiting to go to college.  She told me, “Your Peace Corps will be right here in Philadelphia.”  As an obedient 22 year-old, I packed my bags and came back home to Philadelphia.

5. Sadie Reynolds taught us a few lessons about geese.  Author Robert McNeish said it best, “As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow.  By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.”  What is the lesson?

Families who share a common direction and a sense of family can help each other get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

There are so many more lessons however, space in this column will not allow. So, in closing if we are blessed with a Mom or Mother like – figure who is the glue for the family, encourages and nurtures you daily unselfishly, makes a way out of no way, epitomizes multitasking with grace, reminds you we are what we repeatedly do (Plato),  leads by example in their deeds and loves you unconditionally, then we are indeed blessed. 

*A Proverbs 31:25 woman

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