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Mama’s Medicine

There are people who have been gifted by God in ways they might not truly understand, if they even pause to think of such things. Some have the gift of a great singing voice (RIP Aretha), others may have an artist’s eye, or a nurturing soul, or the gift of creativity. Then there are those who are natural comedians, without ever writing down a joke or practicing one-liners in front of a mirror. No gags or props needed, just the natural affinity to make people laugh and feel better about their lives.

In my life, I’ve been gifted to have one of the funniest natural comediennes ever; my mother Sheila Marie Antoinette Rainwater Crossley Hayes-Smiley. Even all of those names have humorous stories behind them, and no, this is not her government name, she just added names, just as a gifted storyteller or jokester will add punch lines.

As a little boy, I had chronic asthma, which required attention, pumps, hospital stays, oxygen tents, etc. Eventually, I grew out of it being chronic, but my asthma became “situational” asthma. Like anxiety attacks which would occur when I was up to no good. Sigh. Of course, my “situational” asthma has become the fodder for a couple of funny stories told by my Mama.

When I was in seventh grade, I disobeyed my mother by piercing my left ear. For days I only talked to my mother from my right side, keeping the knowledge of my left ear from her sight. Think of Theo Huxtable hiding his newly pierced ear from Cliff, and that’s how I was for days. I don’t know if it was caused by guilt or fear, but my “situational” asthma kicked in and my Mama had to take me to the emergency room. I’ll try my best to tell the story like she does.

“We’re in the room and your boy is huffing, gasping, and wheezing. The doctor pulls out a needle to give him a shot and he starts blubbering, crying ‘Mama don’t leave me!’ That’s when I noticed this big a$$ earring in his ear. I told him ‘You didn’t cry like a baby when you pierced your ear!’ and I left him right there to take that shot by himself!”

The crowd laughs, and I always change the subject, but I see these people on TV trying to be funny, and I lament the fact that my mother does not have her own television show. Her one-liners, quips, and stories are priceless. One of my nieces always asks, “How hot was Mississippi?” in order to get my Mama to tell of her thoughts on the weather in the great State of Mississippi. A few weeks ago, my mother let a ribald joke slip from her mouth, and I laugh and blush whenever I think of it. It’s just who she is… and whom my personality is taken from.

I, like everyone else on this planet, have dark days. Days where I only want to hear dirges or Sade, or lie in the bed, too depressed to be bothered with other people. I’m not one to stay down for long, so in order to speed up the recovery process, I call my Mama. I’ll beat around the bush before telling my issues, and then she’ll spout reassuring wisdom, with punchlines and humor added. By the time I hang up the phone, I’m grinning and laughing, back to myself once more.

I’ve channeled her personality into my own, and when one of my daughters needs to vent or cry on my shoulder, I sprinkle humor in to make them feel better about their situation or themselves. See, I’ve learned from my Mama that laughter is the best medicine. Thanks Ma.


Contributor, Marlon Hayes

Marlon S. Hayes is a writer, blogger, poet, and author, who is pretty sure he’s made his mother laugh and cry with this article. He can be followed at Marlon’s Writings on Facebook, and at

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