I Remember Mom: The Cross Road

By Richard Mabey Jr.


In the midst of the cold winds of January of 1984, I found myself fighting a sore throat that led to a strep throat. And, sadly, the strep throat led to my second bout of Rheumatic Fever. And at the age of 30, the fate that had called me to fight the deadly strep infection at 12, had rebounded and gnarled itself to the inner chambers and valves of my heart. It was a year-long battle with two long-stay hospital visits. But, I came out of it with a greater inner strength and a furious determination to leave my mark upon the world.


It was in the Spring of 1985, that I landed a writing job at a big daily newspaper. I wrote engagement notices, wedding announcements, obituaries, scout news, church news, and news of various non-profit organizations. By the Summer of 1986, I was worn, weary, and feeling that my wheels were just spinning in sand, going nowhere. And, to top it all off, I had a boss who was anything but kind. In all honesty, she was a bit of a heartless tyrant.


I was frayed, my inner self was torn, I lived on Pepto-Bismal tablets. The unrealistic deadlines, the long hours, the harsh voice of my boss, was taking a toll on me. And, as if that wasn’t enough, my girlfriend at the time, was insistent that I leave the comfort and warmth of the little Reformed Church that I grew up in, to take classes to become a Catholic. And, Anna’s parents were putting the pressure on me, to the nth degree. I have no conflict with the Catholic faith. But, I do have a problem with being pressured to do anything, just to please someone else. It wasn’t so much that Anna was a devoted Catholic, rather it was that her father had given me the ultimatum to convert to being a Catholic.


I felt such inner turmoil. Sadly, Anna gave in to her father’s dislike of me and broke up with me. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, my boss was becoming meaner and meaner with the passing of each and every day. I felt like I was holding onto the end of a rope, at a cliff’s edge, and the rope I was clinging to was rapidly fraying.


A thousand and one times my mom, Janet Kemmerer Mabey, encouraged me to start my own newspaper, a small-town weekly. I was filled with self doubts. I didn’t have all that much money in my savings account. And, a certain fear and insecurity was clinging to the core of my inner self. But, Mom would not give up on me. She wouldn’t let me give into my inner fears and insecurities. 


Mom continually told me that I had the right stuff, the fortitude, the dedication, the intelligence, and the deep drive to start my own small-town weekly newspaper. But, I still doubted my abilities. Finally, Mom told me to pray about it.


It was about a week before Thanksgiving Day, of 1986, that the good Lord had the hammer fall upon me and awaken me to the fact that I needed to leave that big daily newspaper and step out on my own. It was a Monday morning. I remember it all so well. It was just before lunch time. My boss came over to my cubicle and just ripped and tore me apart, for not having met a most unrealistic writing deadline. I was overwhelmed with little articles to write about engagement notices, wedding announcements, and events of non-profit organizations.


High noon came. Lunch break. I remember going out to my car to eat my lunch. I had always brought a bag lunch to work. Once inside my care, the tears flowed down my cheeks like Niagara Falls. I knew I couldn’t take much more of it all. The shadow of Anna haunted me. The pain of losing her love, the mean-spirited shouting of my boss, it all had taken a toll on me. There in my car, eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I took the time to earnestly pray. Mom was right. I needed to pray about it all.


Somehow and someway, I got the courage to type up my resignation that very afternoon. At the end of the day, I gave my official two-weeks’ notice to my boss. At that moment in time, it was like a big, heavy, anchor was lifted from my heart. 


By early 1987, I began publishing the Lincoln Park Journal weekly newspaper. My dear mother was a constant source of encouragement to me. A new dawn was rising in my life. A new chapter of my life had begun. If it were not for the encouragement of my beloved mother, I would have never found the courage to leave the big daily paper and take the bold step to start my own small-town weekly newspaper. 


Encouragement is one of the single most precious gifts that a parent can give to their child. Encouragement holds a greater value than silver or gold. For it can be the seed upon which the great tree of success springs forth. Please, never underestimate the positive power of encouragement. The result of encouragement knows no limitations, no bounds, no walls.  


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please put on the subject line: I Remember Mom. 


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