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Berdine's Corner

Take a Look in the Mirror...
It starts with You

by Kenney X. Dennard

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

I recently caught myself upset with 2-3 people at one time...All about different things. It happens from time to time. To be honest, sometimes I do feel like everyone is picking on me as funny as that may sound.

But this time, I was brought back to a conversation I had with my mother, Berdine Dennard about 10 years ago. I had called her on the phone to get some support and sympathy without even thinking that was what I was doing.

During the call, I talked about a couple members of my immediate family that had teed me off. She just listened. I went on and on about how this is not the first time they had said or done whatever it was that they had done. We got further in the conversation, and as the topics changed, my demeanor remained the same. We talked about another relative. I was mad at them as well, still holding a grudge for something that had happened weeks prior.

By the end of the conversation, I was going off on my cousin who I felt was always doing me wrong. I talked about how I wasn't going to be bothered with him no more because he's so self-centered. Again, my mom listened without saying a word.

You know, when you talk about stuff loudly to someone you feel a little better about situations anyway. So maybe I was halfway there, yet still gladly holding on to that grudge. Finally, my mom asked, "Kenney, are you mad at everyone?"

She went on to say, "There is no way everyone could be doing you wrong at the same time." I tried to argue that point, but she wouldn't let me. Before long, I felt kind of stupid. My mother continued with, "You cannot hold a grudge with someone you feel did you wrong forever. It's not doing anything to them. They're fine. You're the one walking around bitter and taking that bitterness into other relationships."

She, then, went into some of my personal relationships with relatives. My mom said, "Everyone is not going to do and treat you just as you would them. We all have different personalities. You have to adjust to each of them. You can't make it change the way you are either. Some folk are just stingy. Some folk will only help you if they think it’s going to benefit them. That's just how they are. But you cannot let that make you like them. And you cannot hate them because they didn't do something the way you would have done it for them."
I was taken aback. I didn’t really know what to say, but I knew she was right. My mom always had a way at coming at you and telling you about yourself without making you feel like she was just picking on you. I understood, and adjusted accordingly.

So even today, when I think I'm just fed up with someone and can't take being treated anyway much longer, before I say something that I may regret for years or permanently, I think about my mother. I think of the amount of times I've truly seen her mad at someone. Very few. I think of all the people that borrowed money from her and didn't pay it back, instead dodging her, thinking she would soon forget. I think about when my mom finally did see them and didn't even bring it up. Although later she would say to me or another member of the family, so and so did me wrong. But she continued to treat that person like everyone else. Only, they would never borrow money from her again.

But as easy as it is to get angry, nowadays, I look in the mirror and say to myself. How would my mom handle this? Am I part of the problem?


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