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Remembering My Mom

Remembering My Mom

Sometimes we’re defined by what makes us mad.

That may sound odd in a tribute to Ida Sue Kidd. In her later years she was a sweet, simple, lovable person, someone who rarely got angry. That’s the Ida Sue that most of you knew, and we loved her deeply.

But when I was growing up, I saw another Ida Sue—not a different Ida Sue, because she was a person of great integrity and consistency. But a more complicated Ida Sue. A wonderful person, but one who worried. One who had mixed feelings. One who saw both sides of every argument. She had a way of expressing that indecision. It was one word: Course.

“The kitchen would look nice painted yellow; course, green is so pretty.”

“That’s a nice-looking shirt; course, there’s a few holes in it.”

“It would be fun to go on vacation in Hawaii; course, it rains a lot.”

Besides mixed feelings, sometimes there was anger. She never quite knew what to do with anger. She wouldn’t express it openly. More often it would slip out in a remark, sometimes even with a smile. If you’re ten years old, that can be confusing.

But about one thing there was no ambivalence. Unfairness, injustice, inequality, prejudice—whatever you choose to call it, it made Ida Sue mad.

She grew up in the South, during a time when there were separate water fountains, restrooms, and schools. Later, she saw the mistreatment of people who were weak, who were misunderstood, who were different from the rest of us. She pointed it out. She told us about it. She worked against it. She could not stand it. She didn’t hate many things, but she hated that. It made her mad. You might say it defined her.

Ida Sue Kidd taught us many things. The power of love. The value of learning. The importance of being a good neighbor. The beauty of music, and the way it lives on in your heart and your fingers.

She taught us many things. But here’s what I’ll remember most: She taught me what was right.

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