A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. -Tenneva Jordan

My Worldwide Family,

I was scouring the internet for footage and inspiration since I decided to take on the task of my own blog. I was very interested in using some of the recorded footage from my Charity Weekend in 2009. This particular event was the street dedication which I owe entirely to a great family friend and the biggest Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan in the known Universe; that lovely lady’s name is Lisa Martin. My families triumph through adversity was by God’s will; a fresh flow of blood into the hearts of a many people from the communities that were in touch with my efforts as an athlete, as well as my publicized trials of the human spirit. Lisa, because she was moved, took it upon herself to petition the city to change the name of her current street, which was formerly Graham Ave. Thanks to both Lisa Martin and the City of Fort Myers there is now an Earnest Graham Ave!!!! I took this as a sign that my destiny lies in the city where I was born and raised(Fort Myers, Florida) and I am committed to playing an influential role in its future development.

While searching for any media I could find, I came across this clip on youtube of my mother speaking at the ceremony. My mother passed on November 7, 2010 from a fight with endometrial Cancer, it goes without saying that to date this was the most trying period of time in my life.  As a father, it simply amazes me that my mother could extend herself in the way she did as a parent.  My siblings and I were always involved in sports and any other activity that she could use as a means to keep us out of the troubles that were inherent to an environment like the inner city of Fort Myers.  The fact that my mom got a chance to see her son’s name on a street sign before she passed was the absolute highlight of my life.  I am glad that I followed her advice through life because that is exactly what made this day possible. However, upon reviewing this footage I made an assumption about my mother’s actions during this speech that revealed a layer of selfishness and covetousness that would be the inspiration for this post.

At about the 1 minute mark, my older brother Shawn Pope is called to the podium by my mother.  Already quite a ways into the speech she says “Shawn, you are supposed to be up here with me”.  My immediate thought was that my mother was conscious of the fact that she was gloating about me and didn’t want to exclude my brother Shawn.  Therefore, I assumed that her reason for calling him was to sort of coddle him in a way and let him know that he was just as important.  I think at this point some of you can see where I am going.  I even had the nerve to repeat this to my spiritual counselor Ingrid Felton.  In which she responded with a second of silence and began speaking on a variation of the subject that we were on. She was kind enough at the moment to realize that I missed my mother and acknowledged the human element in that moment.  We have been working together long enough for me to realize that it was something for me to think about more deeply.

Two day’s later my brother was at my home. My brother is that simple kind of man in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s famous song. He works a job that sends him all across the state of Florida and is a fiercely loyal person. There is nothing greater to him than time with his family and doing something thoughtful for someone in which the faintest smile will make his day. Shawn was talking to me about his daughter Shaniyah and her softball schedule and went on talk about how he was going to make every single game. Missing her games was not an option, whether or not it was something he could actually afford to do. It was then in that moment that God gave me a greater clutch of the man that is Shawn Pope.  At times we are connected to others beyond our titles and familial relation, and I can only attempt to explain the magnetism between us at that moment.

I immediately drew upon the conversation that I had with Ingrid two days before.  It was not that my mother needed to coddle this strong and independent man.  It was simply that she needed his strength by her side.  I wasn’t  my mother’s everything.  As much as that moment meant to so many,  it was exclusive to that event.  My mother still was in touch with the most minute fibers of all her children.  She knew who to call on in that moment.  I was there standing behind her, and in other’s minds I was the sole reason for this event, but that wasn’t something my mother was dwelling on.  Shawn as comforter and substantive ground was what she needed. This moment was about so much more than myself.  This was an enlightening moment for me which further revealed my mother’s character.  Shawn at this moment was her lighthouse giving her direction in her moment of unsurety.  My mother was an introvert and was very uncomfortable with large crowds. With Shawn as her lighthouse it is now that I see her great ship full of goods coming into focus. This quote about sums it up:

The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent. -Erich Fromm

We all have people in our lives who exhibit selfless undertakings, which are revealed when we are in touch and yearn for understanding in the spirit.  It is in the absence of great people that we are charged with fully comprehending and continuing their gift.  I was not the sole provider of my Mother’s joy.  She was naturally proud of all of OUR love in that moment.  As her son, I deflect my ego’s attempt to make that moment all about myself.  It is the kindred love of God and inclusion of my family that will allow Lisa Martin’s gesture to take root in the community.

I am Earnest Graham and it is my experience that I cannot hold love captive.  It is not for me to define or understand.  I am thankful for the moments that I experience it and am in accord with its healing nature. 

Thank You and Have A Blessed Day.

3 thoughts on “Love begets Love

  1. WOW!!! Being a mother of 2 VERY different children hit me directly at home! As a mother you’re proud, love and need all your children in different ways. There has been times I’ve “pulled” my 15yr old son “closer” too me while his 11yr old sister is up on a stage accepting some type of academic award or being sworn in to the procedgious academic program she is in . As well there has been times where I’ve “pulled” my 11yr old daughter “close” too me while watching her older brother play the 3 sports he truly loves (in-line hockey, wrestling and football) . Those are the moments when I’ve realized I NEED my children by my side & in my “life tool box” just as much as they NEED their parent. They are not only my children,best-friends, the LOVES OF MY LIFE but they are my “teacher”. Growing up my father always told me “A teacher will appear when the student is ready too be taught.” I’m the student and they are my teachers, everyday I learn something new because of them. Earnest I’ve known you for many many years not from your “fame” or football career but from the man that your mother raised…I met you at the 1st fundraiser event you held at Galaxy Lanes which is now called Pin Street of Ft. Myers (the GM Terry Rogero Leis is my mother, trust me I’m NOT excepting you too remember me or her, I can only imagine how many people you meet and see on a daily bases) . I say I know you by the “man your mother raised” because from the 1st yr you held it at Galaxy (Pin Streets) you brought your whole family (your Momma included), and introduced everyone of them too my mother, myself AND too my 2 children. You made us ALL feel as if we were all family. Your pure and true presence of the man you are shined through. Without going into great “wordy , boring” details, what I’m trying too say is bottom line is….. Not only your amazingly kind hearted mother & family but MY family and your hometown of Ft. Myers, Florida are ALL sooo extremely proud too be able too call you “family” , the positive energy you exude on and off the field, and what you have done as well as continue too do for “OUR” HOMETOWN , is indescribable! You genuinely no the meaning of “pay it forward”! And I WILL SPEAK for our community by saying…. “THANK YOU EARNEST, all you hard work, long days away from your beautiful wife, children & family, broken bones and bruises, win or lose NEVER ONCE GO UNNOTICED OR APPRECIATED!!! Thank you for being you and keeping’ it real…..always your friend Becky

  2. BTW: even though you graduated from Ft Myers High, I see you “tag” Ft myers football would you care too “tag” North Ft Myers High School Football ad well , yes I know they are your “biggest rivalry” in High School Football BUT my son is a student and Football player there. I help out all the time with the Red Knights and you have sooo many young and “up and coming” athletes that LOOK UP TOO YOU there and if someone like you acknowledged them it would/and possibly could change a young teenagers life….not only “ego” wise but athletetically and SPIRITUALLY…..blessings too you and your family..

    1. Wow Becky!! I am truly moved by your comments and I thankful that through my career and the service your family provides throught the community that we are able to find common ground. I do you remember you guys and I am looking forward to seeing you guys again. Thanks for sharing your story from a mother’s point of view. May God Bless!!

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