… the Ben Carson story
A few months ago, I discussed the movie adaptation of a book here after I led its video discussion with a group of wonderful young boys and girls at the ZongoVation Hub in Accra. The book, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, is a biographical piece on the life of celebrated neurosurgeon, Benjamin Carson. It is a book that tells the travails young Ben Carson went through to defy the odds and rise to become the genius of today’s greatest life-givers that he became. This is a twenty-two chapter page-turner that tells the inspiring story of a boy who came from a poor and humble background to become a professor of neurosurgery, plastic surgery, oncology and paediatrics; and also the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
The book shows how he started school in Detroit, was a laggard in class and later became the genius that he is through the efforts of his mum, who began restricting his (and his brother’s) television intake and required him to read books every week and write reports on them. Now, that is the focus of our piece today. A reader at Success Book Club, Abdul Rahman Odoi – one of the most enterprising young men I have met on this journey of literary and community activism – discusses the bond between mothers and their children with the Ben Carson story in focus. Let’s savour and relish it together.
Abdul Rahman Odoi.
There is a litany of reasons why I would love to encourage everyone, especially parents and their children, to read and reflect on Ben Carson’s autobiography: Gifted Hands.
The truth is that this is the third book I’m reading since commencement of the month of November. And though I’ve not read the entire book, I need to take a pause and run a quick review of a few excerpts.
In the prologue, there’s a heading called ‘A Letter from Sonya’ – Ben Carson’s mother. She quoted: “You’re the captain of your ship”, a verse from Mayme White Miller’s poem called ‘Yourself to Blame’. This she briefly explains as “no matter the hurdles in life – you don’t have to give up”. Should you do so and fall and fail, then you will have yourself to blame. I became aware that the buzz the book has garnered is more than virtual, and not even a bit circuitous.
Little Ben Carson was only eight years and had to get prepared for perennial separation from his most beloved dad, Robert Carson. As a kid, this storm will hit you hard in the face, soul, heart and mind. I pray we all overcome the difficulties we are facing one way or another.
But Ben pestered his mother: First, what I found interesting was his constant seeking of forgiveness on his dad’s behalf, albeit being privy to the degree of evil his dad had committed. My surprise is that at eight years he was innately aware that ‘to err is human, to forgive is divine’, and he’d pray for his parents to reconcile whenever he went to bed. And not that alone; him seeking forgiveness for his dad and knowing that there’s power in forgiveness makes me question myself and even the temperament of our kids of today – who won’t even say ‘I’m sorry’ until they’ve been bribed to do so.
At eleven years he had somehow finally gotten over the pain of his father’s absence. So probably his seeking forgiveness for his dad had a three-year span. This should tell you something – that Sonya Carson was raising her children on the principles of godliness. That was why, even as they had to barter their dignity for a better livelihood, they – the kids – didn’t give up on their mother. They joined hands altogether, lovely.
We can now narrow this to our contemporary times and see the difference. I’ve seen many guys and ladies who have been blessed with one or two kids. But because they, the young parents, might have taken some detour from the right path, they ensure that their kids follow them in those crocodile paths as well.
So, you will see a guy who wears his trousers below the waist, goes clubbing all day, has tattoos and piercings all over, appears in some weird hairstyle with crazy designs, and all the vices they might have engaged themselves in imposing same on their innocent kids at a tender age.
My childhood friend, today a ruffian, learnt how to smoke weed in Junior high. It was the fault of his father though – a weed smoker who taught him the act. Is this fair? Today he causes a whole lot of uprising in the environs. He fights his dad at the least chance he gets. You see the difference now?
It is high time we understood that our kids come with a pure spirit just like Jesus (as) mentioned in Matthew 19:14. “…Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”.
Sonya Carson believed that her kids needed hearts of gold. They were therefore put on godliness right away from infancy. Ben confirmed this when their mother told him that: “Bennie, we’re going to be fine”. Though there was nowhere to sleep and did not know where to get something to eat, they knew their mother was relying on God while she was putting things together.
Later, Ben and Curtis would testify that they let go of the vacuum of love their father had created; not because they were not hurt, but the fact is their mother didn’t speak badly of him in his (their father’s) absence – or maybe not in their presence. Because forgiveness is prettier than vengeance, so to put it.
Again, this is rare. I’ve heard severally of mothers, not even divorced, once their husbands get them irked they’ll load lots of insults about him on their kids – even accentuating any physical defects of their dads. Sonya Carson didn’t want to create that environment for his kids to become adults who’d see their father as an enemy, or perhaps force them to take sides.
More so, the first chapter, ‘Goodbye, Daddy’, shows the powerful bond between the mother and her children. Last month, while I was reading ‘Is God Good For Women’ by Michele Guinness, the author mentioned that: “Women tend not to be risk-takers; but when they do, it is often for the sake of others rather than themselves”.
The above statement applies to Sonya Carson, a mother who didn’t have the best of education, got married at the age of thirteen (13) and was finally divorced and had to fight poverty to raise two strong boys – and should ring a bell that whatever she had gone through wasn’t an easy battle. The pain, the hardship, the sacrifices and all that. But she came out victorious, with one of the best paediatric neurosurgeons the world has ever had, and an aeronautical engineer. She is a kind-hearted and strong-willed woman.
Their success story is a gospel truth to children and all single mothers who’re on the brink of losing hope. Please, giving up shouldn’t be an option. Yes, the challenges can be as high as the mountains, but our perseverance, patience and pure belief in God will make our exploits also as high as the skies.
In hindsight, whenever you see that children are fond of their mothers – as a father or a potential father, or an observer – please don’t be jealous. Most often, it is as a result of some of these selfless sacrifices mothers do make at a time the father is nursing his sexual advances somewhere else which end up consolidating the unrivalled bond children have with their mothers.
Indeed, cutting the umbilical cord after childbirth doesn’t mean mothers don’t have control anymore. Rather, the heart of the mother to her kids can never be cut-off – it’s inextricable.
And, beautifully, Ben Carson said: “For me to tell my story means beginning with hers”. Therefore, what I can also say is that divorce isn’t evil after all.
NB: The Writer is a Youth Activist and a Student of Knowledge.