The following is an excerpt from a May 9, 1993 column I wrote entitled "Lessons from the Book of Mom" for The Commercial Appeal, (c) The E.W. Scripps Co., reprinted here in observance of Ma Dear's birthday.
There are a lot of ways for me to note what my mother, [Mrs.] Rowena H. Whiting, means to me. I would like to focus on some of the lessons she taught me.
My mother, who always wanted to be an English teacher, has spent a lot of time teaching my sister, my [one has passed] two brothers and me the importance of correct grammar and proper pronunciation.
A frequent early-childhood refrain I can still hear is: "Regina, it's not 'show is,' it's 'sure is.' This is one of those reminders that frankly became irritating to me, but of course, that never stopped Ma Dear, as we call her. She wanted to make sure that her children did not embarrass her or themselves with poor speaking skills. ...
My mom is one of the world's best cooks when it comes to collard and turnip greens--my all-time favorite food. We grew up on the stuff, along with other Southern fare. She tells us the story often about me being sick with pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx) when I was 24 months old. I was placed in [the-then] Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center with a fever that hovered between 102 and 105 degrees. After numerous efforts to help me get better, the doctors gave up on me.
Mom asked a friend to pray for me, and I gradually recovered. She says as my appetite returned, I got a craving for greens and spaghetti. Also at the hospital was a couple with a sick child. The man was kind enough to go out into the night and buy this food. Mother says my recovery was a "miracle from God."
Did I tell you about the time she got my foot out of the pickle jar, or about the time she saved my arm after it got caught in the washing machine?
I am so thankful my mom is still around, that she passed on many lessons, and that I obeyed most of them.