I Never Knew

I’ve posted many times on here that my son and I had a cold relationship. It’s really never been anything that I could put my finger on or explain. I’m not the most nurturing woman alive so I’ve always felt it was my fault that we had a sour relationship. I always felt he held some grudges against me and maybe didn’t even love me. I really felt he didn’t like me very much. We never talk about it or try to fix it. I didn’t get to see him or my grandkiddies on Mother’s Day and I even felt he may not even call me. But he did call me this morning and he and the kids told me “Happy Mother’s Day.” We chatted a bit and went on our way. Later this afternoon, he did something so out of character for him. He wrote the following on my facebook. I’ve been crying happy tears ever since. Below is what he wrote on my facebook. J


From James:

It has to be one of my more obnoxious traits (I have a lot of them), but I am one of the most fortunate people I know. I have a lot of great things around me. Sure, I have a wife of almost 15 years who loves and inspires me, who fills me with purpose and drives me to be better. I have two great kids that are the focus of my life (and most of my exhaustion). But I’m not talking about any of that today. I’m talking about the most inspiring person I’ve ever met. My mom, Charlotte Barber Snead.

Almost everybody that knows her knows that I’ve got no words to really describe her. She is large-hearted and giving to everyone who needs it, unconcerned with credit and attention, funny as hell, respectful (to a point), but intolerant towards idiots and irresponsibility, and unconcerned with petty drama and shitty people. Everyone has known this about her for years. This isn’t what’s great about her. Not even close.

Almost 9 years ago, her Grandson was born followed 6 years later by her granddaughter. Anyone who has seen her Facebook page or spent more than just a few seconds with her has… felt… the pure unflinching love she has for her grandchildren. She loves them to the point where I (the father of these two kids) question either her sanity or my capacity for loving anything—because I love them more than I could have ever imagined, and I can’t compete with her love for them. This is a remarkable thing about her, but not the most by far.

About 7 or 8 years ago, she was thinking that she was feeling down and unhealthy. She could have exercised a little more, ate a little better, and felt better about herself. But this woman does not do “a little” of anything. She decided that there was no point in not stretching her body to the extreme lengths of of its ability. She lost over a hundred pounds the hard way, no surgeries or crash diets, no pills—just hard work, will power and self control. It was inspiring to watch (if not to duplicate). In October of 2014, she ran a full 26.2 mile marathon at the age of 54, because that seemed to her something she wanted to do. She is training to do so again this year, in the Chicago Marathon, at the age of 56. Yet again, this is not the most remarkable thing about her.

She was born to sharecroppers in Gibson County Tennessee, her and her four brothers and sisters sharing a single bed. And yes, she was married and pregnant (with me) before her High School graduation. She went to work graveyard shift at a factory. She had all of the trials that break so many people around us. No one in her family had gone to college or travelled much outside of Tennessee. But this woman, working a full time job with a kid and husband at home, knew she wanted something else. And I watched her: she WORKED her ass off for it. Over five years in the late eighties and early nineties, she went to college, full time, during the day while working at night, full time, assembling motors on a factory floor. I never went hungry or wanted for anything. She earned her BBA, with honors, and started putting that to use, learning everything she could at her factory, rising up, moving to better jobs, continuing her education and stretching her self until she is where she is now, a nationally sought after manager in her field.

My mother was never given anything in this life (other than loving, hard-working parents). Everything else, she took, she earned. I watched her do it. She did it by putting in more work than anyone else, year after year, well past the point anyone else would. No one can conceive of living a 16 hour workday for 5 years to be the first in your family to get a college degree. No one can conceive of waking up in their fifties and deciding to lose a hundred pounds and run a damn marathon. This woman did. I think that she can sometimes irritate people because she walks through this world like a winner. She is a winner.

Every job interviewer I’ve ever had has asked me to name someone who has most inspired me. I have never hesitated, never stopped to think, never hemmed or hawed. I have just told them the story I just told you, the story of this woman.

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5 thoughts on “I Never Knew

  1. I’m choking up….wow….there’s no bigger tribute in life than when your child writes something like this! You’ve always been an inspiration to me, but I have an even greater respect for you now. ❤

  2. I’m not sure where you saw me with a hamburger and fries because I rarely eat that but thanks for the advise. I’m not on a low carb diet but thanks for that advice.

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