The eyes are the window to the soul – so they say. And the eyes of 19-year-old Keltric Harris and 13-year-old Brian Williams are easy to read as they gaze upon their mom, Pam Kenon. It’s clear they love and appreciate their mother.
Brian surprised his mother with the nomination for The Gadsden County Times Mother of the Year contest. Kenon said she had no idea he had nominated her, but when she got the message that she had been drawn as the winner, she just began to cry.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.
In an e-mail, Brian described his mother as follows: She has taken care of a sick mother, endured her death, attended (older brother Keltric’s) juvenile trials, job loss and is currently working two jobs “just to provide for us.” He added that all of this has taken place in the past 4 years or so, and his mother still continues to strive to provide a good family life for himself and his brother.
Kenon said her mother, Eloise Kenon, became ill in 2004 after suffering a stroke. Keltric, who lived with his grandmother at the time, was able to care for her until she had a second stroke about 6 months later.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Kenon said. “Keltric began to act out, I guess because of my mother being sick, and I just didn’t know how I would handle it all.”
Kenon began going back and forth between her job, which at the time was in Tallahassee, the hospital and being with Keltric for his court appearances.
“I was trying to keep up with them,” Kenon said of her sons, “and handling two households; mine and my mom’s.”
“She is a great mom. She never missed a court date,” said Keltric.
On top of that, Kenon had gone back to school and earned her associate’s degree, and was working on her bachelor’s degree in health service management at Kaiser College. When her mother became ill, Kenon said she wasn’t sure she could keep all the balls she was trying to juggle in the air.
But a coworker, who had also gone back to school, offered encouragement and, Kenon said, she stayed focused because of her boys.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. “It was a hard time, but I just had to push on. My boys said, ‘Mama, it’s gonna be all right.’ If it hadn’t been for them, I don’t think I could have made it.”
Kenon was proud of graduating with her bachelor’s degree last year, but the occasion was bittersweet – her mom died May 1, 2008, and therefore didn’t get to see her graduate.
Even so, Kenon knows her mother loved her and would have been proud of all she’s been able to accomplish. And she sees her mother’s influence in her own parenting.
“She was a strict and loving mother; she taught old-fashioned values,” Kenon said, adding that she isn’t as strict as her mother, but she is passing on those same values to her sons.
“I tell them, if you want a better life, put God first. If God is the head of your life, you won’t have any worries. I tell them that no matter how far down you fall, you pick yourself up and go on and try to be a better person.”
Kenon also relates to her boys her own experience with the death of her mother.
“You never think your parent is going away, but everyone has a time to go, and I had to face that. It’s hard because her physical body is not here with me, but I know she wouldn’t want me here crying. She would want me to celebrate her life,” Kenon said.
She added that she tells her sons that she also has an appointed time to go, and since she won’t always be around, she urges them to get their lives straight.
“I don’t want to have to worry about them. I tell them to get their lives straight so I don’t have to worry,” she said.
She encourages both young men to look at life for the possibilities it holds for each of them.
“I tell them to think of life as if there’s going to be something better out there for you. People may see you fail, but that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Show people that you are not a failure. Do the right thing,” she said.
Both young men are taking their mom’s advice and are each seeking out their own paths to success. Brian wants to be a drum major at Florida A&M University, and is showing signs of becoming a great leader. Keltric is working on joining the National Guard.
And for those single parents out there, just trying to hold it all together, Kenon also has some words of wisdom.
“Put God at the head of your life. He will help you mold your kids into what they need to be,” she said. “Don’t assume your kids aren’t getting into trouble when they are not at home. Be involved in your child’s life. It takes two to be involved, and you and your child have to make that commitment.”
Kenon said her greatest hope for her children is that they will grow up to become successful men who can take care of themselves and make a difference in the lives of others. She hopes that Keltric, especially, will take the experiences he’s had to help steer other youth in the right direction.
In the meantime, she continues to love and adore her kids, keep them on the right path, and instill hope for a bright future in their hearts.
And that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“She’s a good mom. She’s hardworking and she loves us,” said Brian.
As winner of the GCT Mother of the Year, Kenon received a bouquet of flowers, a framed color copy of the published article, and a gold pin, donated by Padgett’s Jewelers.