JUANITA FLOYD: Lessons of mistakes last through life

By Juanita Floyd

Mama always told me, “If you make a mistake – don’t be ashamed to admit it – fix that mistake – do it – because it’s right.” In my last column, I made a mistake. In trying to thank all the staff at CREATE for their support and encouragement of my son, Taylor, I named each of my co– workers except one – I left him off. The column read “…for co– workers – Mary Alice and Jennie for their encouragement…” It should have read for co– workers…“Lewis, Mary Alice and Jennie…”. In the office, I hugged Lewis Whitfield and asked for his forgiveness. He said, “I didn’t think anything about it.”
However, in my mind, I could hear Mama saying, “You fixed it with him, but what about the others who read that article and may have drawn a different conclusion?” From that thought, I began to stroll down memory lane. I thought about the time, as a young girl, I got into a fight with another girl on the church grounds after choir practice. For whatever reason, she double-dog dared me to cross some imaginary line, and I foolishly took the bait. We fought, scratched, and pulled hair with everyone observing. Our leader, Shirley Daniel Cruise, couldn’t break up the fight. Daniel McWhorter was on his tractor near the church. He stopped, broke up the fight and scolded us. He later talked to Mama and told her about the fight on the sacred church ground. She thanked him for telling her.
I just knew I was going to get a switch to my legs for that fight. After reprimanding me, Mama said, “Be prepared to apologize in church on Sunday.” I said, “What! I can’t get up in front of everybody at church.” She said, “You can and you will. You were big enough to fight in front of everybody. And I don’t need you to just say – I’m sorry. I need you to explain that you were not raised to act like that.”
The next Sunday, I thought Mama had forgotten. Church was almost over. Pastor Eddie Black called for announcements. Mama stood up and said, “My daughter has something to say.” I remember thinking –“Lord, have mercy” – as I began to talk to the congregation. That day changed and impacted my life for the good!
I certainly learned a valuable lesson from Mama that has followed me throughout my life. A quote from an unknown source said, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.” I find myself using those same lessons with my children.
My oldest son, Tyler, listened to his cousin and played a prank on our sweet neighbor, Margaret Berry. She informed me about the matter and said, “I know you would want to know what he did.” I thanked her for telling me. I said to Tyler, “You will go to Ms. Berry’s house and apologize. You will say more than ‘I’m sorry.’ You will explain to her that you were not raised…” His reply was, “Mama, I don’t want to do that.” I said, “You were big enough …”
My son, Taylor, did a similar thing in school. He misbehaved in class. The teacher informed me of what happened. I thanked him for telling me and asked permission for Taylor to address the class. I said to Taylor, “You will apologize to the entire class and you will explain that you were not raised… He said, “Mama, I don’t want to get up in front of the class.” I said, “You were big enough …”
Jonathan Swift said, “A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong …”
To Mr. Whitfield, the omission was inconsequential, but to me it was monumental because of my Mama’s teachings. Mama said, “It’s not how large or small the mistake or even what kind of mistake – it’s what you do about it – how you fix it. In the end it will make you a better person.”
If you make a mistake – should you admit and then correct it? The mistake could be on your job, in your home, church, and even with family members. Since you were big enough… are you willing to do the right thing? You be the judge.
Juanita Gambrell Floyd is vice president for Finance and Administration at CREATE Foundation. Contact her at juanita@createfoundation.com.