Commentary: Mother’s guidance remembered during pandemic

By Peter E. Carter

During a recent podcast on which I was the guest, the host posed the following question: “To whom or to what do you owe your tremendous success as a Black man?” My answer without hesitation was “my mother.” This question, coupled with an event I shall share, has caused me to pen a few words about the world’s most important individual, one’s mother.

Peter Carter

Very recently, the mother of my two adult children took ill and had to be hospitalized in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. She has lived with our daughter and prior thereto, she lived with our son and his family. These outstanding offspring have been watching over their mother for a few decades.

Upon learning that his mother had been hospitalized, our son immediately purchased a one-way airline ticket in the midst of the pandemic, flew into the Pittsburgh airport and obtained transport to the hospital. Simultaneously, his sister had been at her mother’s bedside in the intensive care unit hourly. The hospital had a policy of only one family member being allowed in a patient’s room at a time. Within days, my children had that policy altered for the sake of their mother.

During the two-week period of hospitalization, my son celebrated a wedding anniversary. He flew home to surprise his wife for that special day and then flew back to his mother’s bedside the following day. “Greater love than this, no man hath” has been written in the Bible; equalized love such as this has been demonstrated for parents nationwide, especially during this COVID-19 period.

The mother of my children is now home with our daughter. She is not fine by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly better than when initially hospitalized several weeks ago. Our son has returned home. In short, both children risked their lives, by possibly exposing themselves to the pandemic, for the sake and love of their mother.

Now, to my mother, who raised her only son in the low-income public housing buildings in Brooklyn, New York. As was said at the beginning of this piece, the author owes his success as a person and a professional to that individual. Raising a Black male in the projects, as the apartments were called, could not have been an easy task. So many of my contemporaries and playmates were either arrested (the males) or became pregnant (the females) prior to high school graduation. My mother made certain that yours truly did not fall into either of those camps by being perhaps one of the strictest parents in the nation. Homework was completed every evening, dishes were washed and dried by hand daily, and other household chores (mopping of the bathroom, sweeping of the living room carpet, doing the laundry at the laundromat on the grounds) were accomplished every Saturday. There was no such thing as a retort to any command from her, nor were there too many opportunities to express an opinion of my own. She believed in parental physical reaction to whatever she deemed as wrongdoing. I graduated No. 1 from the eighth grade of the local parochial school and won a full, four-year academic scholarship to one of the nation’s best high schools, followed by another full scholarship to a renowned college in the Bronx. She was there for all of it. She demanded excellence from her son and, in her own way, provided support. When she and God deemed she was no longer needed, she died, shortly after my 21st birthday and my college graduation. Such is possibly not the case of the tens of thousands of mothers who have died due to the pandemic, and we empathize and sympathize with their children.

“‘M’ is for the million things she gave me … put them all together they spell ‘Mother,’ a word that means the world to me” … and to you, too..

Peter E. Carter is a retired public school administrator in Delaware, New Jersey and New York and the author of “A BLACK FIRST,” available at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach.