Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Son's Tribute to His Widowed Mom

In the book, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, author James McBride, the youngest of eight children had this to say about his mother when she was widowed a second time:
"Jesus gave Mommy hope. Jesus was Mommy's salvation. Jesus pressed her forward. Each and every Sunday, no matter how tired, depressed, or broke, she got up early, dressed in her best, and headed for church. When we kids grew too old and big for her to force us to go, she went alone, riding the F train from Queens to Brooklyn to New Brown Memorial, the church she started with my father. Church revived her, filled her up, and each Sunday she returned a little more renewed, until that Saturday afternoon she announced she was going to drive my stepfather's car."
James McBride's father died before he--child number 8--was born. And then his mother remarried and had four more children. His step-father died, too, while James was in grade school. But all twelve children are successful college graduates! Do the math-- his mom had twelve children and was widowed twice. Whew, that makes me catch my breath!

Not only that, born in Poland in 1921, Rachel Deborah Shilsky's (her birth name) Jewish family immigrated to America when she was two years old. She grew up in the South, in Suffolk, VA. Right after high school she moved on her own to New York City! In New York she left Judaism, married a black man-- Andrew D. McBride, helped him found a Baptist church in Brooklyn, and bore him eight children.

Mr. McBride died of lung cancer in 1957. Having previously changed her name to Ruth McBride for her first marriage, she then was remarried to Hunter Jordan, another black man. She took the name Ruth McBride Jordan, and had four more children. Mr. Jordan died in 1972.

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother was on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years. It's not what you'd call a "religious" book. Yet, if you read it and try to figure out how this woman survived all she did (sexual abuse, abortion, racism, poverty, widowed twice, putting twelve children through college, the death of an adult son . . .) you'll be amazed. Can there be any other explanation than the power of Jesus Christ in her life?

Ruth McBride Jordan was quite a character, but I believe she would agree--only Jesus carried her through!
Read this amazing story and you'll know that Christ guards and guides us, too, inspite of our quirks and challenges. ferree


  1. One of my favorite books. I may just have to read it again. :)

  2. Made me all weepy! What a wonderful tribute from her son.

  3. I hope you (and I) will hear the same someday, Kelly!


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