Florence Hederson /Photo etonline.com
Florence Hederson /Photo etonline.com

The sudden death of Florence Henderson, known to millions, particularly with the boost provided by syndication, as Mrs. Carol Brady on the 70s hit show “The Brady Bunch,” reminded me of the many television mothers that I used to “adopt” from time to time during my childhood – especially when my own mother and I weren’t seeing eye-to-eye.

Said another way, and in the current vernacular, I looked to my TV moms when my own was “working my nerves.” You know, making me study, cleanup my room, take out the trash, wash her car, walk both dogs and tidy up after their messes, go to church while Dad chilled at the crib and follow directions without question or reply – all those things that children often try to avoid.

So I would escape to TV land, where Mother Brady was always cheery, upbeat and encouraging. Actually, I thought Carol Brady was kind of cool. Often after hearing her share advice to her six children, I found it easier to tune in to Mom’s words – shared with an equal amount of love.

For a real blast from the past, I recall Diahann Carroll as “Julia.” She was the first TV mom I could remember who was Black and a single parent who sacrificed a lot to provide for her young son. Her husband, a pilot, died after being shot down in Vietnam. After my own mother missed a flight (the only flight she ever missed) that subsequently crashed into a Pennsylvania mountain killing all of the passengers, I realized how one single action could change my life forever. So while Corey, played by Marc Copage, held onto his mom for dear life, I followed suit.

Sophia Petrillo was a handful on “The Golden Girls” – not the kind of mother that I ever dreamed about. But her fierce Italian pride and unabashed love for her family endeared her to me. And she was just funny too. With her I learned how healthy laughter could be.

For glamour, style and grace, no one could top Claire Huxtable perfectly portrayed by Phylicia Rashad. Sometimes I’d become fascinated with her elegance, her beauty, her intellect and independence. For a while I even thought I wanted four or five brothers or sisters – especially since my parents had lost two children at childbirth. But since sharing wasn’t one of my favorite things to do, I decided to opt for a dog, some fish and a parakeet.

Claire would have let me have a Doberman – my mom only agreed to an Irish Setter.

Two final salutes must be made to Louise Jefferson (Isabel Sanford) and Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) – two mothers who made the most out of getting out of the ghetto or being forced to survive in the ghetto. Superwomen for sure and the kind of mothers that made you want to go home for the holidays.

But in the end, after my walk down memory lane and television motherhood, the real truth – my Mom tops them all.

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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