When I ran away in fear and desperation to join my mother at the age of 17, I arrived exhausted, unannounced and apprehensive at 2 o'clock in the morning. The light in the hallway flashed on when I rang the doorbell, and a tall, handsome man came to let me in. We stared at each other for a moment, after which I said, "You must be my mother's husband." There were tears in his eyes when he hugged me and said, "No, son, I'm your other father." When I went with him to greet my mother, we passed through a bedroom in which two small boys slept in twin beds. Between them, on a bedside table, sat the picture of me shown above on the right. The next morning, when the boys, Malcolm, 7, and Dwight, 5, woke up, they told me they had always included me in their nightly prayers, praying that I would "come home" someday. I had only learned of their existence a few months before.

Overnight, I was transformed from a boy steeped in hopelessness and private misery, who felt he belonged nowhere, to a member of a loving and welcoming family to whom he was the long lost who had found his way home at last. It was an extraordinary experience to live among people who sat to the table together as a rule of thumb and talked about their day. Mother paid attention to my grooming, washed my hair for me, made sure that I ate properly (good southern cooking), and even got up at 5 in the morning to make popovers for our breakfast at 7! (Gladys had often slept till noon, and I don't remember ever having had breakfast fixed for me, which is why I learned to cook early in life.) Mac took me to Raleigh Haberdashers and to Lewis & Thomas Saltz in Washington (D.C.) and opened accounts for me, advising me on the selection of fine clothes, which I paid for as I got a job the first week I arrived, over Mother and Mac's protests that they would support me. Most remarkable to me was my resemblance physically and emotionally to my mother. I was, in many ways, her carbon copy, male edition. Yet we had not been together since I was five years old.

Timeline Pictorial of Later Years

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2000 Brockman Morris