By:Curtis Morton


This time of year, has now become a very painful and emotional time for me.
You see, when I hear so many persons talking about their ‘loving’ mother and boasting about what they are going to do for them on mothers’ day, I am reminded that I am now a virtual ‘orphan’.

As my grandmother used to say about another person, years ago, am now: ‘Fatherless and motherless.’

However, this time around, I choose to reflect on my wonderful mother who has indeed passed on. The late Mildred Morton, fondly referred to by most, as simply ‘Teacher Mildred.’

Now, I do not know what you call your mother or refer to her as. Some people say ‘MOM,’ some say ‘MAMA;’ others say ‘MOMMY;’ some say ‘MOTHER’ but when I was growing up at home, we all affectionately referred to our mother as ‘MA.’
Now please don’t ask me how that originated. I don’t have a clue.
From my earliest memory, MA was loving, giving and willingly to sacrifice what she had, simply to help someone else.

We were not rich by any stretch of the imagination—far from it. Oh yes, I grew up going to school as another one of those good ole ‘bare foot bobs’ but not feeling out of sorts, because there were many more in the same boat.
I wore no underpants to school and looked forward to getting the one I owned to wear to church on Sundays.
Well I newa!

Can I get an Amen in the house?
My mother was a well-respected teacher. She started in the profession when she was a mere 15 years old, because she was BRIGHT. She told us that she taught persons who were many years older than her but noted that they gave her the respect due as their teacher.

She used to make sure that we had lunch and would bring it to school. We would all congregate in the Zion Old school-now the Zion Methodist church and we would share in our simple lunch of lemonade or BABERISH (THAT’S THE ONE WITHOUT LIMES) and a piece of bread, sometimes just like that or with maybe a bit of butter or something. When my dad sent barrels from the USA where he went for a time, we might get some peanut butter. Small wonder that I am not a lover of peanut butter now. Ate too much in my youthful days!

I remember one day as we sat and ate our lunch, Teacher Aggie was across from us with Leon. Leon was either her son or nephew. I don’t remember which. As we started to eat our bread and whatever, Teacher Aggie pulled out her rice and chicken. It’s the first time that I knew that chicken legs could be so big! Then Leon started to laugh and ‘bay’ us. He would point the chicken leg in our direction; lick it; laugh and then start eating. You think I don’t know what TORTURE is?
Well I newa!

Ma simply told us to satisfy with what we had and we must learn to ‘cut and contrive.’
She was also a strict disciplinarian. I remember one day as I sat in the back of the class with one of my friends, Earl Kelly, he started telling me about some of his ‘exploits’ with the female sex. I listened in wonderment and really did not have much to say. However, I clean forgot that in those days they had folding blackboards which had a space in the middle.

I clean forgot that my mother was teaching the class behind me!
You know that dear woman stopped her class, came over to mine and gave me a whipping and in the process telling me that she brought me to school to learn my lessons!

She was very religious. She took us to church—well she and daddy. No excuses were good enough. Even if we succeeded with the old, tried and proven ‘belly ah hut me’ excuse for one week, trust me, it was not going to work the following Sunday! She taught us the importance of prayer and reading the bible. We had to listen to Radio Paradise and SHAMBACH. Now these were not optional!
She was a very nice lady but as short as she was, she stood tall when she had to make a stand on an issue.

I think I told you all how a gentleman summoned me to court for trespass and damage to his property, which in fact was proven to belong to my parents. When his Lawyer eventually dropped the case, after weeks of personal duress and turmoil, I happily started to walk out of the courthouse, when my mother stood up and asked the magistrate: “Well who is going to pay back Curtis for all dem money he done spend?’
I was so scared, I was like: “Ma, let’s go!’ My mother would not wedge. Eventually, the Magistrate got the Lawyer to promise that she would compensate me—which was never done, by the way.

When a certain Police Officer was giving me hard time to get a driver’s license, my mother came with me as the licensed chauffeur on the day that I did get my license—on my third try. Now my mother had gotten her license many years before that and probably drove only once since. All she did after, was simply to update her license. When she came with me on that day, I am convinced that by that time, my mother did not know the gas from the brakes! Am not joking.

Now if I had not received my license on that day, I got the sense that we could have had the start of world war three!
Ma was an English expert. She taught us grammar and all aspects of the Queen’s English. Oh how I would have loved to have her around to edit this for me! She usually edited my songs and other writings. When I was not sure about a word or phrase, who do you think I called? She was always there for me.

Ma was my alarm clock. If I had an assignment to commence at 3 am in the morning and I did not want to oversleep, I just told Ma to give me a wakeup call. She would call at 2.30, then at 3.00, then at 3.30 to make sure am really up.

One morning, something was wrong with my phone. She said she tried to call me but did not get a response. You know my mother left her house in pouring rain, with an umbrella and nearly break down my door to wake me up! I drove her back home, with my heart filled with so much love for the woman.

So it was, that when her health deteriorated, it was a joy for me to look after her. I remember that first day that MA fell ill. I lifted her in my arms and placed her gently in my bus and drove her to the hospital.
I remember the weeks of helping to look after her before she eventually passed on……………

Hey, my admonition to those of you who still have a mother, is to cherish her and let her know that you really appreciate and love her…NOT JUST ON MOTHERS’ DAY!
One day she will be no more and the finest of eulogies just won’t do it.
That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?

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