Oh Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn. Barack Obama can swim.

WILBERT A.TATUM | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.

The countdown is almost over. Six days before America inaugurates its first Black president. Hours only before the world will change in some substantial ways. No, I am not going to be able to go out and buy a $2,000 television set, not immediately. The mortgage on our home will not disappear or become less because a new man is in control, fish will not smell any better when frying and Tabasco sauce will still be hot. Ice cream will be delicious...any flavor. Love will spring eternal. Macy's has not and will not reduce the interest rate on my charge account. I do better than to skip a payment or two on my health insurance and my beer and grocery bill has to be paid. The hard liquor, of course, went for cash. So whatever celebrations there will be, ringing in the Barack Obama future will be cash-and-carry.

Then the terrible reality will set in: How does Obama, how do we, how does this society cope with being broke through devices of our own making while pretending to be the leader of the free world, the toughest dude in town? How do we, in truth, cope with that? We do not read as well as we would like, but we can count well enough to know what a deficit is. If I make $12 an hour and I pay $14 for goods or services, I have a deficit. If that continues, anything that I may have been able to steal, beg or borrow will be compromised and I'll be broke. That is what the new president, Mr. Obama, has been trying to tell us, to try to have us understand that as quiet as it is kept, this nation is in financial turmoil.

Things are being done to correct it. Perhaps some of them will work, perhaps none of them will. No matter. The device must be born, created or invented that will allow us to fly across the moon on ice skates and reach the other side, wherever that is, equaling solvency without too much damage to our inner ear. This will happen, of course, because we are still in an era when mothers mean something. Therefore, whoever our mother is, whatever she does, she will understand this dilemma and decide for us what we must do and we will follow her advice, of course, because she has always been there in a crisis or in a time of need.

Hold fast for a moment and let me give you some of the words from my childhood that, of a certainty, told us children how important mothers were: "She's somebody's mother, boys, you know. I'll help her cross if she wants to go...and somebody's mother said a prayer that night."

Barack Obama's mother, or mothers as the case may be, filled an important place in his life, and he will be forever pulling on that experience to lead a nation. For that, we are all grateful, because we had mothers too and we know how important it is to have that massive breast to lean on, cry into, to suckle. We had it all. We had it all. We must never allow ourselves to forget what mothers meant to us. We must never forget how it is that a mother had Barack Obama and nursed him and somebody else's mother took charge when she was unable to and his wife's mother will be taking charge at the White House in order to raise the most precious gift anyone could ever have, a child.