The Power of a Mother (2014)

Greg GainesI thought about writing a new post for Mother’s day, but then I made a big mistake by reading the post below.  I figure if something grabs your heart, it deserves your attention – again.  So take a read, it’s 3-years old, but it’s still a keeper for me.


The following note was also published in the Florida Times Union today and I’ll pass along the web address at the end.  However I wanted you to get the full picture, so I’m placing the letter here as well.

It was late in the afternoon on April 25th.  I had been trying to get in touch with her all day and we finally connected via phone.  Near the end of our conversation in her slightly wavering voice, she said, “Greg, I need to tell you that I am so proud of you son, you are a very good father, you are doing a wonderful job.”  It was my mother, Bernice ‘Bump’ Gaines and she couldn’t possibly know that those were words I needed to hear.

I had been hopping around hospitals and doctor’s offices fighting through my own swamp of worry for several weeks with two of my sons.  And while I never feel that I have it figured out, I thought that I had been hanging pretty tough.  But looking back at that moment I was obviously a bit weary.  It was her 81st birthday and she was talking to me from a hospital bed of her own.  She was wrapping up a short stay as doctors ran a few tests to check her out.  Her health is not the best, but her spirit is still strong.  If I’m in a street fight, I’d still take Bump to have my back any day.

Because we were not speaking face to face, she had no opportunity to see my eyes water up when she spoke those words.  She couldn’t possibly notice my pregnant pause or feel my heart race.  I’m 49 years old and it’s amazing how much weight mere words from the lips of my mother continue to carry.  Aren’t we supposed to grow beyond that?  As a young man I couldn’t stand to be referred to as her baby boy.  “I’m a man now mama.”

I have a family of my own now with three wonderful sons who I would not only die for, but I’m pretty sure I would hurt anyone that I felt meant them harm.  I’ve been called an alpha male, willing to go it alone if it’s what I feel is right.  And yet I am still frozen by a few words from my mother.

About 15 to 20 years ago I awakened to the fact that I had been chasing acceptance from my family for my entire life, and chasing acceptance is a losing game, so I quit.  To be clear, I have a very good family who loves me, but the acceptance I really needed was my own…not theirs or anyone else’s.  I know that now.

Today, I speak, I write, I communicate with purpose and I like to think that I play second fiddle to no one, but still the moments of warm support from the heart of my mom burns through me like a hot knife resting in a tub of butter.

This is certainly not the first time she’s had this type of impact on me; there are quite a few moments that I can recall.  Throughout the course of my adult life I’ve had to call upon the greatest of those moments time and time again.  It’s a scene that I’m certain she doesn’t even remember.  As a boy I openly doubted myself, pointing out my insignificance and how I didn’t matter, and she caught me.  She aggressively rushed over with fire in her eyes, she grabbed me by both shoulders and shook me!  In a very direct tone she said, “Listen to me!  LISTEN TO ME!  Then in a soft but strong steady voice, she said, “Nobody…nooobody is better than you!”  Then after starring me down, she put one of those warm bear hugs on me as only a mother could.  Tears rolled down my face, much like those that are trailing my cheeks as I recall that moment.

Wow, the power of a mother.  How do you quantify it?  It’s much more than words, but words set the stage. They are more powerful than the sword or any bullet.  They can transform any moment; they can bring a heart back to life.  And there are few words as powerful as those spoken by a loving mother or a loving father to a child…even if the child is 49 years old.

                                                                   Bump Gaines, the Legend

Bump sitting where she belongs, right in the center of us all

Bump sitting where she belongs, right in the center of us all

 Thank you mom.

My mom is getting a copy of this letter; she’s probably wiping tears away as she reads and flashing that million dollar smile.

Happy Mother’s day mom.  You are loved far more than you know.

Thank you for making a difference,


Your baby boy

If this letter touched you in any way, consider passing it along to a friend.  Happy Mother’s Day everyone.

For the Florida Times Union edition of this note, click the following address:


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