The Pillars of Ray

It was past my bedtime when I stumbled on the movie. I’m not a huge fan of the lead character, (Jamie Foxx) so I was a little reluctant to watch. Curiosity however, got the best of me. I recall watching “The Blues Brothers” when I was much younger. The scene that had Ray Charles in it was my favorite. I have to say I quite admire Ray and Stevie Wonder. They are a huge inspiration.

Back to the movie… I got entranced when I watched Ray’s brother fall into a laundry basin and die. My eyes quickly filled up as I watched the mother throw herself on the little boy’s coffin, weeping uncontrollably. From then, I sat glued to the chair until it was over. Even then I kept turning it over and over in my mind. I had been impressed the two strong women who had stood by Ray and made him.

That crying mother who had known the anguish of losing a child, and soon after, watched the other one go blind. She hadn’t even mourned her baby for a year when this other disaster had happened. She was saddled with a child who would cry for her (understandably so) each time he fell out of a chair. A child who needed her for everything when it hadn’t previously been so. Now she had to teach him to count his steps and even more daunting, discourage his self-pity. She also had to teach him to hear as a blind boy when she herself had never been blind. During the scene where he gained independence, he had fallen out of a chair and was calling for his mother. She had lunged forward as any mother would have but had to will herself to remain where she was. That must have been very hard. She stayed rooted to that spot and watched him begin to realize that he could use his ears as he had his eyes. This fiercely independent woman took her only surviving son, who was now blind, to the bus stop and sent him off to school despite his pleas. I can almost imagine her with a blue bodysuit and red cape. What a woman! She firmly explained why he had to go away and made him promise that he wouldn’t allow himself to become a cripple. She wanted him to become somebody in life and learn to fend for himself. The strong desire of a mother availeth much if you ask me. Did he become somebody? Need I ask?

The second strong woman was his wife. He married her shortly before his career took off. Ray was a womanizer. He must have needed the re-affirmation somehow. I think he tried his best to be there for his family when he could, but his career had him totally. There was a scene where his girlfriend wanted him to leave his wife and three children because she was pregnant. She mentioned that between his heroin addiction, the music and her, the man had nothing left to give his wife anyway. That got me wondering about this woman. The wife. Who had to raise his three children knowing his addictions and knowing that he wasn’t fully hers. This woman who did not walk away. I won’t be shallow enough to think that she stayed because he was a star and had money to take care of her. I want to believe that she stayed simply because of her children. When Ray heard about his girlfriend’s death, he was shattered. She had overdosed on heroin. This scene revealed to us that his wife was aware that he had fathered the late woman’s child. She knew the child’s name and date of birth and even intended to send the child money. It was this strong woman that opened Ray’s eyes to the fact that heroin could take away the one thing he loved more than anything else. His music. She said those words without reproach or jealousy. Just a statement of fact that changed his life. He went into rehabilitation and she was waiting for him when he returned. She was right by his side when he was honored in the last scenes. She had held fort and kept it all together despite the man’s straying.

Ray had had every reason to be great. He couldn’t have been mediocre. He had been blessed with the two greatest pillars. A strong mother and a strong wife.


2 thoughts on “The Pillars of Ray”

  1. You may like to know that she eventually divorced him in 1977 sha :-)…..he wasn’t a successful husband I think. Oh she was also his second marriage 😉

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