Thank You, Mama - an Open Letter from a Grateful Son

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Dr. Hazel Thomas Jones is my mother. I’m indescribably proud of that fact.  She's a lifelong educator. She’s an amazing woman – and not just because it happens to be my own unsolicited, not-so-humble opinion. My mother is intelligent, articulate, funny, community service-oriented, honest, humble, tax-paying, God-fearing, law-abiding, beautiful, and relentlessly passionate about guiding young people to be at their very best. One of the countless things she has taught me throughout my life was never to brag about myself. Mama was adamant that praise about you should come from other people, not from yourself. Since she would never brag about herself, I’m ready, willing, and able to do that for her – especially on this occasion.
Before I continue, please allow me to extend my sincerest Happy Mother’s Day wishes for every mother on planet Earth. Whether your mother is here with us or home in Heaven, I join you in celebrating who she is and all the lives she positively impacted. You are living proof of the blessing that is your mother.
Sometimes, I laugh at just how much I am still influenced by my mother – in ways large and small. I love Flowers bread today because it was the only bread she allowed in our house growing up. I insist on my steak being cooked well-done now because that’s the way my mother always ordered her steak in my formative years. I can cook and bake because she made sure I learned how to do those things. I enjoy being in clean environments to this day because Mama instructed us in the who, what, where, when, and why of cleaning up all around our house back in the day. 
It was my mother who first saw my gift of writing when I was a child. She supported me in honing that gift. When I was a kid, I wanted to play basketball and sandlot football with my friends. I wanted to watch cartoons like most other kids. Mama refused to allow me to be ordinary. She wanted me to be extraordinary. That’s why she had me reading the dictionary on a daily basis – so I could constantly expand my vocabulary. That’s why almost every day, I had two sets of homework: the school’s and my mom’s. She encouraged me to speak publicly as a child. She encouraged me to enter essay writing contests. When I won – which was frequently – she made me deposit those checks into my college fund at C&S Bank. Her eyes were on my future.
Thank you for raising me up in the church, Mama. Thank you for making sure that I had my own personal relationship with God. Thank you for modeling for me and my siblings all the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Thank you for teaching us the golden rule of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Thank you for making us see the importance of loving everyone, Mama. I’m a people person because you raised me to be one. I’m patriotic because you raised to be. I love baseball, Chevrolet, and apple pie because my mother wanted it that way. If I happen to encounter you in person, your skin color is the very last thing I see. The first thing I see is my brother or sister in Christ. The second thing I see is either someone I know or someone I have yet to know. There are no foes in my life. There is only family. 
Thank you for taking me on vacations, Mama. Thank you for showing me different parts of the world. Thank you for demanding that I be well-rounded. Thank you for exposing me to Motown and the Beatles – to Earth, Wind & Fire and the Eagles. Thank you for always ensuring that a moderately short guy (me) felt 50 feet tall. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for a mother’s love.
I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything in the world. I’ve had a great life – and I attribute that to The Lord, my father, and my mother.
I know you worked hard, Mama. I know it wasn’t nearly as easy as you made it look.
I love you more than I will ever be able to express. I’ll close now because I cannot see my computer screen for the tears.
You are the smile on my face, the spring in my step. You are appreciated. You are precious. Thank you, Mama.

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