The ties that bind…


Today is my mother-in-law’s 68th birthday. She passed away in May of 2010. I’m a likable enough guy, but I can say honestly, my mother-in-law, Mrs. Madelyn Perry, loved me. And I loved her right back. Not many people can say that about their mother-in-law, but I can and it’s certainly a blessing.

In 2008, I joined an anti-violence movement in St. Louis named ‘A Call to Oneness.’ Our group went door-to-door in St. Louis City and County talking to anyone who would listen about ending the violence in our community. We marched on the weekends and reported our progress with weekly meetings at local churches.

We were told in advance of one meeting that U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay, Jr. would be addressing the group to give us a word of encouragement. Congressman Clay did more than rally the troops. He answered our questions about what his office was doing to end the violence.

I was so excited when he called on me I jumped to my feet and rattled off a bunch of words about support, law enforcement and community. When Clay finished his response, I quickly sat down. Bad idea. No, very bad idea for a big man in slacks.

The seam in the back of my pants couldn’t take the sudden pressure and I immediately had my own air conditioning. I was near the front of a packed room, so I couldn’t quietly excuse myself with what felt like a huge hole in the back of my pants. When the meeting was over and Congressman Clay engaged in side conversations with some of the other guys, I slipped out of a side door and headed home.

I really liked those pants. Madelyn was great at sewing, so I took them to her house to see if she could do anything. She told my wife, also named Madelyn, “This boy has blown the entire (behind) out of these pants, huh!?” She worked her magic and repaired the rip.

I wore those pants to this year’s Musial Awards. Almost 10 years later, her work still holds. The threads haven’t budged. The ties still bind. Happy birthday, Mama!

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