Georgia is on my mind every day, but especially today, for what would've been my mother's 77th Birthday. Ma has been gone for almost 20 years, and it seemed she left much too soon.
No one has impacted my life as much as this woman. She had an excruciating early childhood, being orphaned along with her sisters and for a time before their rescue, severely abused. As a result, she always struggled in the shadows of her mind with believing that she was loved.
This nagging doubt, however, didn't stop her from loving me - her "Ponderosa" as she sometimes called me - because like Ben Cartwright's ranch was to him, I was her "Big Spread!" Her early pain and struggle also didn't make her mean or bitter. She was sweet, courageous, kind, and generous with the love she gave to others.
She was brilliant, and taught me the art of written and spoken communication from the "Old School ways" that produced many great black leaders of days gone by.
She possessed unwavering faith that prepared me for the possibility of her early departure - a faith so rigorous that the doctor who tried to save her as she died, was shaken as she tried to save him and asked to attend her funeral. A faith so deep that she knew beyond a doubt that the God she had trusted and Who sustained her as a small child when her mother departed, could certainly sustain me as a man after her journey Home.
I know that when I mention Dad, she is pleased, but I have been remiss in not mentioning the woman who taught me to be a man, and who shaped my spiritual formation while the man in our home was away.
Ray Charles' "Old, Sweet" and haunting strains remind most people of a great State, but for me, they keep my one true Georgia forever on my mind!