This sharing of Ben Carson on his family and childhood experience will truly change your thinking and transform your life. Recommended for fathers, mothers, teens, youths and singles.
“Sometimes you have to think big to think smart”
“When I was a child, I did not think my brain was capable of doing much of anything. My classmates considered me the class dummy, and I saw no reason to debate their conclusion. My mother, however always believed in me. She knew I had a brain, and she was convinced that brain could be my ticket to a bigger, better world beyond our tiny home and life on the big city streets of Detroit. And she was right.”
–Ben Carson, MD
It’s a strange and humbling experience for me to realize that millions of people around the world know my story. For some reason, people of all ages, races, nationalities, and backgrounds seem to identify with what I have experienced. They find encouragement and inspiration in the life of young African-American boy born into poverty, and abandoned by his father, raised by a single mother, known as the dummy of his fifth-grade class, who eventually became a brain surgeon and head of pediatric neurosurgery at one of the most respected medical training institutions in the world.
Wherever and whenever I’ve shared my story, I always make a point – as I’ve tried to do already in this book-of crediting my mother as the single most important human influence on my life. But I want to write a little more than usual here about the Sonya Carson story. She was my greatest inspiration and provided the foundation for everything I’ve accomplished during my life. She shaped the heart of who I am and taught me eternal truths by demonstrating exceptional character.
Let me share a few examples of what I mean. Many people praise me for being a role model and an example of someone who overcame terrible hardship in life. Let me tell you, Sonya Carson defined the word overcomer for me, because she faced and rose above more hardships than anyone I’ve ever known.
If anyone has ever an excuse to be a failure, to just give up life, or never to think or use her brain- my mother qualified.
Born next-to- youngest of twenty- four children in a family struggling to survive on a small hardscrabble farm in rural Tennessee, Sonya knew only thirteen of her siblings. She grew up remembering little about her mother or father, because she spent her childhood lonely and unhappy, being shuffled from one foster home to another.
At thirteen, she met and married my father, a handsome and charming older man who promised to rescue her from her desperately sad situation and take her north to the bright lights and big city of Detroit. My father loved to shower his young wife with expensive gifts of clothing and jewelry. He often introduced her as his “little china doll.” and that’s how he treated her in the early years of their marriage. My mother was the only person he knew who owned mink coat. For awhile, my father hired someone to come in weekly and clean the house, so his “little china doll” would not be tired out.
My father worked full-time on an assembly line at a nearby Cadillac Plant. And he regularly preached at a small storefront church on Sunday mornings. But he didn’t always practiced what he preached. Years later, Mother told me how my father partied every weekend and how he liked to spend money. One of the things that bothered my mother most was how he always seemed to have all the money he wanted to spend. Yet she couldn’t figure out where it came from or where it all went.
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Having seldom attended church as a child, my mother did not understand took place with my father’s congregation. Sometimes she felt guilty for not “feeling the Spirit” like others did. She wondered what was wrong with her and why others seemed to be so much more religious than she was.
Growing up as she had, Mother never felt she fit in with any family or any place ever lived. Now in Detroit, she remained an outsider who seldom felt comfortable in her husband’s world. She dreamed of starting a family and finding a role of her own-in which she would truly belong. But whenever my mother talked to my father about having children, he brushed her off by saying, “You don’t want to mess your beautiful figure by getting pregnant. We can have lots of fun, just the two of us. You have me, and I have you. We don’t need children.”
Finally, after several years of marriage, Mother gave birth to Curtis, and a couple of years later, I came along. For the next few years, my mother appeared content with her life. My father seemed to love his two boys and enjoy spending time with our family.
As a young child, I remember understanding that my father’s job kept him away a good part of the time. Yet whenever he came home, he was affectionate and played with me and with and Curtis. I loved my daddy and thought we had a happy family.
But Mother continued to wonder and worry about where my father was getting his extra money. He spent far more than he could possibly have made working on the Cadillac assembly line and from preaching. She knew something wasn’t right. She began to suspect he was involved in something shady – probably gambling, perhaps the illegal sale of alcohol, or even drugs.
Eventually, all those suspicions were confirmed. But the real shocker came when she discovered her husband was a bigamist , with a second wife and children-another family. When she sat us down to tell us our father would no longer play a part of our lives. When my father walked away from our family, he left us destitute. Yet I don’t ever remember Mother bad-mouthing him or complaining about her unfortunate lot in life.
How will a new life begin with this abandoned, young, and a Single-Mother and her family?
In part two of “Ben Carson Speaks,” we will find out what happened next.
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