Sunday, May 14, 2017 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff || OPINION || @maywoodnews
I couldn’t ask for a better mother to raise me than Bettye Lee Ratliff. There are so many things that Bettye has done for me in my lifetime that I can only thank God for what she has meant to me. She was my first comforter, first nurse, first teacher, first minister and first mentor. Her Alabama old-school ways were just what I needed in my development from childhood to manhood.
This article will be the only time you will read about me calling my Mother by her first name. As the son of old school parents, calling my Mother or Father by their first name was considered an abomination and subject to severe penalties.
My Mother is every bit the type of woman who could make the impossible possible. In the Bible, I would consider her a virtuous woman. She is a Wife, a Mother, an Educator, and still made time to attend every graduation, every little league baseball game, every high school wrestling match, every school performance and every graduation.
My Mom traveled all the way to Seattle when my oldest daughter, Jasmine, was born. She was there to keep me calm when I delivered my first sermon in Detroit. My Mom taught Sunday school at Second Baptist Church in Maywood. She mingled with politicians and spoke at educational conferences throughout the Midwest.
There are so many more things I can say about my Mother, but there isn’t enough space in this article to tell it all. Instead, I have saved some space to thank two Mothers who were so instrumental in my life.
There was Mrs. Theresa Kelly, who currently serves as Proviso Township School District 209 board president.
Say what you want about the Honorable Theresa Kelly, I know she is as humble now as she was before she decided to give back to her community through Public Service. Mrs. Kelly has taken more steps to improve her community and school system than most would ever dream or talk about doing.
While playing on the Dodgers with her son, Brandon Kelly, Mrs. Kelly cheered us loudly at the Minor League games. Mrs. Kelly was at every practice, every game, and she rewarded us after each win by allowing us to come over to her home and play basketball while eating barbecue.
Yes, that same Theresa Kelly! Mrs. Kelly treated us like her very own children and I am extremely grateful for her motherly guidance. Over 35 years later, I still consider Mrs. Kelly a mother figure for many children in Proviso Township.
Mrs. Dorothy Green also embraced me as a son while playing Little League baseball with her son, Moses Green.
I remember when Mrs. Green would always take us to McDonald’s after games. She welcomed me in her home on many nights, where Moses and I played video games and basketball for hours.
I’ll never forget one summer day when Moses decided to show off in front of his homies and started using his huge weight advantage to try to bully me. Of course, I wasn’t going to let that happen, but I stopped coming over for a while. After Mrs. Green heard about our confrontation, she made Moses call me and apologize for acting stupid. Not only did we call a truce, but years later Moses played an instrumental role in the creation of Eternal Light Community Services.
Thanks to Mrs. Green, who has since gone on to be with the Lord, Moses and I maintain a friendship which has lasted for nearly 40 years.
The two mothers I have mentioned are just a few of many queens who have made a tremendous impact in my life. Other key women who were instrumental included my older sister Cassandra; my 8th teacher from Garfield; Mrs. Dantzler; my Proviso East High School wrestling mom, Mrs. Bonita Cartwright; my mother-in-law, the Honorable Diane Raulston; and Mrs. Vicki Hankins from Virginia.
Each of these mother’s had a tremendous impact in my life as a child and continue to do so as an adult. However, I would be remised if I did not mention my wife, who takes a backseat to no one.
Monique reminds me of my mother. A woman who loves the Lord first, who takes care of her husband, her children and her career as an educator — just the type of woman a man like myself needs in his life.
A poet once wrote: “Give me my flowers while I’m still living / the love and joy also the wisdom I have given. / Give me my flowers while I’m still living / for the Lord knows I hold that position. / In this world I have gained and lost so / much but a smile I still wear upon my face / I shall never erase. / Give me my flowers while I’m still living / these shoes I fill no one could ever walk in them. / Give me my flowers while I’m here not gone / for I’m still here to carry my life on.”
As we celebrate our mother’s during Sunday morning worship service, or wherever you decide to spend your day, remember that many mothers have endured great pains to bring us into this world. Others were forced to raise their children as single parents. Some have even made the ultimate sacrifice by choosing their baby’s life over their own.
If your mother is still alive, pay her a visit and bring her flowers. If she is no longer with us, pay her a visit and tell her how much you appreciated her. If she lives out of state, send her a card or give her a call and tell her that you love her. Besides, if it wasn’t for our mothers, we wouldn’t have a path to enter this world and begin our own lives!
Happy Mother’s Day! VFP