My mother didn’t need to leap over a building in a single bound to be my superhero. She didn’t need to run faster than any locomotive to be a woman of merit. She didn’t have to change clothes in a phone booth to lay down the law. All she had to do was get on her knees and pray.
When my mother wanted things to get done, they got done. She didn’t believe in doing a whole lot of extra to gain strength to deal with raising 11 children. The kind of power my mother called on didn’t come from leotards or a cape wrapped over her shoulders.
Her prayer closet was enough to bring down the thunderclap of God on you.
They say that prayer changes things. My mother decided a long time ago that she would follow this pathway. She didn’t get loud. She didn’t have to confront anyone. Doing mess was not her cup of tea. All she had to do was lift you up in prayer, and wash her hands of the situation. Instead of meddling in drama, my mother’s choice of weapon was calling on the name of Jesus.
That’s the kind of woman Shirley Marie Freeman was. My mother prayed for her children and she pray over us. She did that quite a bit. Going into private talks with God was a lifetime ritual for my mother. I guess having all those children will do that kind of thing to you.
More than anything that I can remember about my mother, besides her apple turnovers and macaroni and cheese, was that she was steadfast in praying. After motherhood, praying was my mother’s main occupation.
Sometimes, I didn’t know which one came first. That’s just the way my mother was wired. My mother used to make my brothers, sisters and I recite the Lord’s Prayer every morning on our way to school. Sometimes my mother would make us get in a full circle and hold hands while we prayed. Sometimes we used to think it didn’t take of all that.
But for my mother, she understood it took that and a lot more to know that her babies were safe. That’s probably why she prayed day and night for us. She understood that the attacks of life are relentless. She knew she had to be just as vigilant in her meditation to stave off those strikes. It was a task my mother took very seriously. Her joy in life was serving God and nurturing her children.
That open pipeline my mother had with God got a lot of prayers answered. Like the time when a driver, barreling down a hill in a high-volume amount of speed, ran a red light and plowed into my family’s station wagon as my mother was driving my siblings and I to school, flipping the car over multiple times.
We survived with only minor scratches and a healthy dose of scare medicine from that incident. One of the main things that I remember from that accident was having to recite the Lord’s Prayer that morning when we were hit. My mom seemed to always have an inside track to God’s heart.
She made sure she had an inward pathway for her boys. If we weren’t jumping off the roof of our mom and dad’s house, we were making our own version of what an indoor water slide should look like by taking waterhoses from the front and backyards and pumping water throughout the inside of the house while our parents were away.
We gave our mother ample opportunities to add us to her daily prayer list. We were some kind of knuckleheads. But our mother’s prayer shoutouts weren’t always done to rebuke our mischievousness.
There have been many jams that I know I would not have gotten out of if it had not been for my mother putting on her spiritual shield and going to battle for me and my brothers and sisters.
For me, there is one moment that stand out more than all the others. This was a time when my mother had to make an unannounced, one-on-one visit with God to bail me out of a situation I didn’t think I was going to come out of. That was the time when more than half dozen gang members aimed their guns at my head in attempt to rob me as I stood at a pay phone late one night in South Los Angeles.
I knew I was in serious trouble. My life flashed before me. I thought I would become another number in the black-on-black crime wave. I began praying. God gave me a reprieve. Those gang members walked away. I was still a nervous wreck, so I ended up driving to my parent’s house. My mother was the only one up.
I asked her why she was still up so late. My mother said she had gotten out of bed to pray because something in her spirit told her that one of her children was in trouble. If I didn’t know God was real before then, I knew it that night.
This is what real heroes do: they pray. They cover their children. My mother had a special connection with God, a love-love relationship that gave her a wellness of peace. God now has His prayer princess.