Just like the flower, Rose Rock is lovely, smells good and can prick you, if you handle her the wrong way.
Super sensitive people may not like her because, like a bloodhound, she ferrets out foul folks.
“Some people think she is stuck up, but she is not,” said Louise Hatcher, 78, one of her best friends for nearly 20 years. “She is just Rose, and I have no better friend. She is compassionate and dependable.”
So, when people don’t keep it real, she will tell them off with a quickness, saying something that may be too sharp for particular people but perfectly sensible to others. Truth be told, she could actually care less about how you see her. She is who she is: tenacious, tough, talented and too thorny for folks fastened to their feelings.
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Her 51-year-old, son, comedian-actor-writer-director-Oscar-host, Chris Rock, shares this fire. Actually, wit and wisdom are in rich supply for the Rocks. And Rose Rock is the fountain from which they flow.
Meet her, don’t be pretentious, and she will warmly welcome you without hesitation.
“When I first met her, she was very homey,” said Briana Freeman, a 25-year-old New York yoga instructor and the girlfriend of Jordan Rock, her youngest child who is also a comedian, writer and actor. “She was so inviting and nice that it was overwhelming. I was like, ‘Whose mom are you again? Are you my mom?’’’
Plenty of people are taken aback upon meeting the Georgetown County native.
Perhaps, they expected a prim and proper lady because she has had an audience with President Barack Obama, chatted it up with Oprah, cooked with Paula Deen, attended the Oscars, and even had tea with Donald Trump, long before he became President-elect.
Or, do they think her success as the author of “Mama Rock’s Rules: Ten Lessons for Raising a Household of Successful Children,” has caused her to be conceited?
No way. She gives respect where it is given, and everybody is somebody in her mind.
“One of the greatest things she has taught me is to treat everyone the same, whether it’s a judge or a janitor,’’ said Andi, Rock’s 31-year-old daughter, a therapist who works with autistic children and lives in Rock Hill. “Everyone deserves respect, which is why to this day I say ‘Hello’ to everyone I encounter.”
Currently, one of her primary goals is to work with others wanting to empower younger generations attempting to find their way in this world, especially young women.
“I feel so bad that some young women aren’t being taught who they are,’’ said Rose Rock, who is a youth mentor and advocate. “They were born special being women. They were born with the ability to bring forth life. I want young women to know there are more than the size of their breasts, the swell of their hips and the name brand they are wearing. This is what so many young women get caught up on. They aren’t parented. So, they don’t know.”
Rose Rock, who gives pep talks to a variety of organizations designed to strengthen communities and encourage boys and girls, believes children are messages parents send out to the world.
This 71-year-old mother of seven children and retired teacher made sure her babies understood the importance of valuing themselves and others.
“My mom taught me to always keep moving forward,” said Jordan Rock, a 25-year-old Los Angeles resident, who can be seen on the Netflix original series “LOVE.” “She said, ‘If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re (doggone) right.’”
Rose Rock constantly held her children accountable and made sure they knew their roles in the Rock household — she was their mama, not their friend. She and her husband, the late Julius Rock, didn’t tolerate slouches.
“We had a work chart, and we told them: ‘We are members of a family, and we live in a home we love. So, the upkeep of this house is everybody’s responsibility,’’’ she said. “Each child had a job — he or she would vacuum, iron or whatever. My children did their chores Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, they were off like Jesus.”
Ask her and she will tell you being a parent is her greatest achievement and highest God-given honor. She is proud of all them, not just Chris, who she affectionately calls “Chrissy.”
Andre, 48, owns a trucking company in Pennsylvania named after his dad.
Tony, 47, is a comedian, actor and TV host. He has hosted “Showtime at the Apollo” and currently hosts “All Def Comedy” on HBO.
Brian, 40, is a minister.
Kenny, 34, works for the Scholastic Corporation.
And you already know about her only daughter, Andi, and youngest son, Jordan.
These Rocks are solid.
It is no wonder then that her second parenting book, the follow-up to “Mama Rock’s Rules,” is being called “Still Ruling.”
She and her husband taught all of their children to dream big, noting that nothing was impossible.
Ironically, she didn’t think any of her celebrity offspring were funny when they were kids.
She does recall Chris being dubbed the “King of Snaps” back in Brooklyn when he was a kid. He was known in the neighborhood for telling “Yo mama” jokes.
Joke 1 as told by Chris back then: “Yo mama’s butt is so big you can show movies on it.”
Joke 2 as told by Chris back then: “Yo mama got so much hair under her arms it looks like she has Buckwheat in a headlock.”
She shared those jokes, between laughs, while sitting on a yellow, living room sofa inside a rented Litchfield Beach house the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Earlier in the day, she was in the kitchen, with White Lily flour and Duncan Hines Comstock apples within reach, prepping to make apple cobbler.
She looked hip in black leggings (inadvertently left behind by Andi), a gray and black horizontal striped shirt and ankle-high black boots. Her thick, long hair was in ponytail that bounced each time she moved. She definitely doesn’t look he age, which is why Chris recently tweeted “Black don’t crack” and attached a picture of his mom wearing a $49 H&M dress, picture-perfect makeup, with her natural-no-weave hair cascading down her face onto her shoulders.
Anyway, she is passionate about cooking because it is such an evident expression of love.
Andre is a diehard fan of her sweet potato pies. Chris delights in her smothered chicken and biscuits. Her fried chicken and cornbread are mini celebrities.
She cooks in a jiffy and on request. The joy of preparing food for those she loves is sincere and deep, but it pales in comparison to the love she has for being a mother.
“Being a parent is not for the weak and the fearful,’’ she said. “A parent should not be selfish. Your child comes first. Your child always has to come first.”
Contact Johanna D. Wilson at JohannasCarolinaCharacters@gmail.com or to suggest subjects for an upcoming column.