There’s a southern accent where I come from,
the youngun’s call it ‘country’ and the Yankees call it ‘dumb.’
I’ve been thinking about that song lately. A few weeks ago, I tuned in for an episode of Saturday Night Live to see how they were handling live performance during the pandemic. It was the week that people were out protesting the stay at home order despite the public health danger. I suppose a bunch of these protests were in the South or in the rural parts of this country that are easy to lump into a southern stereotype. The comedian, as part of the faux news show called Weekend Update, made the following comment: “You know, it’s funny that all the people protesting the stay at home order live in places where there’s nowhere to go anyway…If you’re protesting in rural Texas or South Carolina, where else would you even be ‘Earl,’ besides WalMart.” It really is one of the oldest jokes. Nice touch using the name “Earl” even though this southerner has never known an “Earl.” But like I said, an old joke. Ancient Roman poet Horace had heard the joke before when he wrote, “Do not dismiss what I have to say simply because I am not from here and speak with a foreign accent.” Jesus certainly heard it too in the many comments about how “nothing good could ever come from Nazareth.” I’ve heard it before. You have too. Old material.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day and it will certainly be unlike any Mother’s Day any of us have ever experienced and it will also be the fifth Mother’s Day since my own mother died. I will wake up on Sunday, and because I don’t have to rush off to church, I will make my wife a Mother’s Day breakfast and help Ava Leigh make her a card and we will shower her with love and gifts. At some point, I will stop and think about my own mother and I will think about all the gifts she gave me. I will think about how she gave me the gift of life and the gift of a good life at that. I will think of the love of music and reading she gave me. I will think of her immaculate penmanship (remember when people wrote like that!). I will think of how she always used perfect grammar in the spoken and written word, and how I don’t. And, because she was the first person I ever talked to in this world, I will think of her southern accent and I will remember how my own southern accent used to always come out a bit richer whenever we spoke.
For those of us whose flowers are white on Mother’s Day, this is a time for us to remember where we come from. Biological mother or not, it doesn’t really matter. We remember where we come from when we pin that white flower to our lapel. We remember and we give thanks. If Tom Petty were still alive, he’d also be wearing a white flower this Sunday. He lost his mother as a teenager. The third verse of the song that I keep thinking about goes like this.
There’s a dream I keep having where my mama comes to me
and kneels down over my window and says a prayer for me.
I got my own way of prayin’ and everyone’s begun in a southern accent where I come from.
For all of us, regardless of our flower’s color, this is a day to give thanks for the mothers who have given their lives for us. I give thanks for my mother and all my mothers, so many of you included, who have taught me to be a proud and loving person. Proud enough to write SNL and tell them to have some respect and to be more original. Loving enough to tell them that I pray for their safety up there in New York City. And I do. In a southern accent