My charge from the publisher of this newspaper is to present a weekly column correlating the effect of pets and animals on our personal and daily lives.  For the most part I have been pretty successful in fulfilling that charge, some weeks more successfully and easily than others.  This is one of those weeks in which it is more of a challenge than most.  Not that I don’t have a topic, but relating it to pets is the challenge, so I won’t even try.

We are all aware of the turmoil in Baltimore relating to the alleged police brutality resulting in the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. The resulting protest and riots have captured the news cycle and attention of the talking heads and pundits just as the previous unfortunate similar events of the last year. Although each of these events has its unique component, there is one associated with the Baltimore event which has captured our attention in a way the previous events have not.

“That is my only son and at the end of the day I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray.” stated Toya Graham.  She was filmed screaming at her 16 year old son who was dressed form head to toe in black, to “take the mask off” and telling him to “get over here” as she slapped him to prevent her son from participating in the rioting.  The resulting video has incited fierce discussion and a proclamation of her being  a heroine and an unfit mother in multiple media outlets. My reaction to the video was “Wow, he got off easy. My Mamma would have killed me!”   I am sure I was not alone in my view. In my opinion, anyone who has a different assessment is obviously deluded.

I grew up at a time when hearing the aphorism “I brought you into this world and I will take you out!” was not just a clever line from a sitcom, but a fact plain and simple. We were raised to respect our elders, ourselves, and our community at all times and not doing so had consequences.  I have no doubt my Mamma would have done the same, if not worse in the situation as Mrs. Graham. In fact, I find it difficult to fathom my Mamma would even allow me to be in the vicinity of a riot. The rule when we were growing up was first sign of trouble, bad weather, or the street light coming on, you were to be in the house. A rule not to be broken.  Let’s not forget the curfew in effect when you were allowed to go out after dark.  10 o’clock unless otherwise negotiated.  That curfew is still in effect when I or my siblings are sharing a roof with Mamma, be it her home or our’s.  Grandchildren included. I also grew up living the maxim “It takes a village to raise a child.” long before I ever heard the saying or understood its meaning. The truism was best exemplified when I discovered I could not out run a telephone call in my neighborhood, a reality and factor in my behavior development for sure.

So this week’s column is inspired and written in tribute to my Mamma, Mary Lois Bland and all my other Mammas from my childhood: Lessie Mae Bland, Alma Bland. Lillian Johnson, Fedora Patterson, Mattie Middlebrooks, Ceola Wilder, Mary Lawson, Roberta Thurmond, Amelia Early, Ruth Buhler, Nell Black, Jimmy Pitts, Geraldine Morgan ,Mildred  Kitchens, Dorothy Black, Shirley Black, Eula Morgan, Sadie Hutchings, Jimmy Pitts, Nettie Ward, Lena Hutchings, Irene Teague, Ruby Towels, and Ruby Green.

To each of them and any I may have left out, thanks for everything and the blessings of your influences. Heroes one and all.

Dr. Bland is a small animal practitioner offering house calls and office call to clients in the Broward County area.  His office is located at 3225 N Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale and can be reached at 954 673-8579.