My memory is a bit fuzzy on the exact details, but I think my mom and I were at the grocery store in the checkout line. I was around seven years old and as I helped her load the items from our cart onto the belt, I had noticed that there were people with skin much darker than mine a few rows over. And, as kids are disposed to do, I likely stared with curiosity.
Later, maybe that night, a few nights or perhaps even a week or more later, my mom called me into her room. I plopped on her bed; ready for slumber myself in my nightgown and housecoat, as she sat down beside me. Here is where my memory comes into perfect focus. In rather clear and simple words she told me that every person was the same no matter the colour of their skin, hair or eyes or anything else about them. I acknowledged her with an 'okay Mom' and went on my merry way but that brief conversation was the first of many items on my 'advice from mom' list that I kept tucked in the breast pocket of my coat of life, ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice should ever the need arise.
I realize that life could have gone the other way, she could have told me something completely different and I may have kept that advice in my back pocket just as easily. I hope not, I'd like to give myself a little more credit than that, yet I realize for some that this is exactly how differences are learned. It is in the midst of my past fortuity that I'm extremely grateful for the lesson she taught me and ever so more indebted to Mr. Mandela for the lessons in courage, perseverance and love that he taught the world.
May his weary heart rest peacefully.