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A mama can be more than a mother

POSTED: May 11, 2014 1:00 a.m.

There are names for parents in the animal world that are periodically used. In horses, you have a mare and stallion, sometimes referred to as the dam and sire. Donkeys have parental terms like jack and jenny, which are really not fair to people named Jack or Jenny. In deer, you have a doe and a buck.

I have often wondered why our vast English language has such limited terms for human parents.

In official terms, we have mother and father. It doesn’t matter if she was only a birth mother and the father was only a contributing male. Those names often appear on a birth certificate as just mother and father.

Of course, we carry that over to other breeds. In the Walt Disney classic, “Bambi,” we always called the older female deer Bambi’s mother. When a hunter shot her, we cried about Bambi’s mama, not Bambi’s doe.

I have a friend who was adopted. His real mama is the woman who raised him and is still a vital part of his life.

Another friend recently reunited with her birth mother after her adopted mother died. The birth mother is now a vital part of her life.

That’s not always the case.

The person who gives you life is not always the person who impacts your life. We call them both mothers, but only one generally fulfils that role.

A mother, or a mama, is a person who kisses hurt places, makes sandwiches, drives you to choir practice, hugs you when you needed it most and has an unconditional love for you.

This is the time we collectively honor them.

If you whine, gripe or moan about honoring a mama who loves you, then shame on you.

A month from now, we can heap praise on daddies, but this is the time for mamas and today we salute and show our love for you.

If your mama is in a nursing home and doesn’t recognize you anymore, go see her anyway. Your words of love may penetrate through crusty layers of a hell called Alzheimer’s disease. If your mama can’t see, go and let her touch your face with her hands. Tell her you love her.

I have a friend who was robbed of her sight nearly half a century ago. She gave birth to a daughter she has never seen, but the truth is, she has more vision than most folks. She is a mama.

Hallmark makes pretty cards, but write your own words. Tell your mama how much you liked the way she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or sewed your Scout patches. Tell her you loved the way she loves you.

I realize in today’s world, we can’t always be present with our mamas. Folks are spread all over this country.

If all else fails, there is the telephone. We don’t live in an era of expensive long distance anymore. Call your mama and give her the words of your heart and listen to the words of hers.

As the late great Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said in a TV commercial for the phone company: “Call your mama. I wish I could call mine.”

Amen, Coach.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.


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