Mother’s Day is about moms, but it’s also about all the women who played roles in our lives. If you’re Black, especially, chances are your grandmother, your godmother, your aunties…your mama’s special friend…or someone else …had a hand in bringing you up.
For me, it was my Aunt Nettie. I wrote about her and my mom, Buddy, in Chapter 9 of my book, I’m Just A DJ But…It Makes Sense to Me. Since Mother’s Day is Sunday, I thought this would be a good time to share an excerpt.
The women in my life gave me my first lesson in unconditional love. Nettie baked an apple pie like no one else in the world. If you think you can top her, I’m willing to give your apple pie a try. My sister-in-law Danita thinks she has finally gotten it down and I have to admit I told her that she had it. But although it’s real close, it isn’t Nettie’s.
With my daddy, things were black or white. When I was good, I was rewarded and when I was bad, I got a beating. But whether I was good or bad, Nettie’s love and apple pie were there for me.
In fact, when I was in trouble, that’s when I could count on Nettie most to hide me from my daddy. If I stayed out past my curfew, not only would she cover for me, she’d stand boldly before my daddy and tell him I had been at her house the whole time, even though my clothes were grass-stained and I smelled like a wet puppy.
Because my mama and my aunts were so good to me, I was shocked to discover that all females weren’t as kind. As special as I was to Nettie and Buddy (my nickname for my mom), I was equally “un-special” to the girls in my town.
As I’ve gotten older and more successful, I’ve been smart enough to realize that the same women who wouldn’t give me the time of day when I was plain ol’ nasty Tom, have become much more likely to say ‘Hello’ to me now and that’s just fine with me.
I don’t hold it against them, I just glad they’ve finally come around!
My daddy gets most of the credit for teaching me the importance of working hard but it was Buddy who taught me to be compassionate, have concern for others and to try to find some good in everyone I meet.
I learned it from the way she lived her life. She was always opening our home to students who needed help writing papers and doing what she could to make certain they had what was needed to meet the challenges they faced.
It was her influence that led us to start the Tom Joyner Foundation that raises money for kids at historically Black colleges and universities.