Dicy McCullough: Patricia Watkins’ twins

  • Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 12:24 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, December 28, 2012 6:07 a.m.
Patricia Watkins, Tremayne Smith, Dewayne Smith and Libby Blackwell
Patricia Watkins, Tremayne Smith, Dewayne Smith and Libby Blackwell

Twins Tremayne and Dewayne Smith have achieved goals many only dream about. Having a degree in music and political science from East Carolina University, Tremayne is now band director at Rocky Mount High School. Dewayne, his younger brother by a minute, is finishing a degree in physical education at Livingstone College. The owner of a physical fitness business, Dewayne travels from school to school teaching children how to take care of their bodies.

Without hesitation, these young men point to their mother, Patricia Watkins, their grandmothers and church for providing boundaries and discipline during their formative years. As a single mother, Patricia was fortunate to have support and encouragement not only from her mother, Libby Blackwell, but also from Tremayne and Dewayne’s paternal grandmother, Shirley Smith and paternal great-grandmother, Louise Mack.


Tremayne and Dewayne believe they grew up having the best of both worlds. Living in the country, they had the advantages that come with life in a rural community. On the other hand, to them it was a blessing their paternal grandmothers lived in Salisbury. Visits with their grandmothers in Salisbury were when they learned to communicate and feel comfortable in different social situations, meeting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Several months ago, I wrote a story about Tremayne and Dewayne and wondered what the secret was to raising motivated, well-rounded young men in today’s world. A few weeks ago while visiting my house, their mom, Patricia, and grandmother, Libby, were more than happy to share a few of those secrets.

Patricia knew when her sons were born she wanted to raise them the same way her mother, Libby, had raised her. Growing up on a farm, Patricia and her siblings always had chores, but before any chores on school days they were expected to do homework for an hour followed by Bible reading for another hour. Taking turns as they went around the room, Patricia said reading the Bible out loud not only helped with vocabulary and language, but also helped build confidence for public speaking.

After homework and Bible reading, the chores included milking the cows, feeding the chickens and tending to a garden. Patricia said the structure of chores, homework and Bible reading taught her manners, respect, responsibility and a love for God. Little did she realize the things she was learning as a child would eventually be passed on to her sons, helping them develop into young men of character.

When it came time for Patricia to deliver what she thought was one baby, excitement turned into fear when she realized she was having two. Even the doctors were surprised because throughout her pregnancy just one heartbeat had been heard. Although not prepared for two babies, as the years went by, Patricia came to realize how blessed she was to be the mother of twins.

She says things weren’t always easy as a single parent, but even so the twins somehow had their needs met, learning the value of money by working for what they wanted. If they wanted a quarter for candy, then they earned the quarter by doing a chore.

Tremayne says he felt delayed gratification was old-fashioned then, but now as an adult and a first-year teacher, he sees where that lesson helped him reach his goals. When he became a student at East Carolina University, many of his peers and professors asked if he was from a military family. Laughingly, he would say, “No, but my mom and grandmothers are drill sergeants.”

That punctuality and work ethic learned from his mother and grandmothers eventually translated into responsibility on a much bigger level. Encouraged by his peers and professors to run for student body president, Tremayne became the second African-American to be elected student body president at East Carolina University.

Exhibiting that same kind of work ethic, Dewayne today works at Advantage Gymnastics, manages a business and attends classes at Livingstone College with plans to graduate this spring. Although his days are full, Dewayne still finds time to help high school students with senior projects related to parkour, a form of free running.

Asked if she could sum up her philosophy for raising well-adjusted, motivated young men, Patricia said, “Train a child in the way of the Lord and when they are old they won’t depart from it. That doesn’t mean they will be perfect. It just means they will have the seed of knowledge, and hopefully, if they do stray, they will return one day.” Libby then added, “Sometimes the seeds don’t take, but it’s still our responsibility to plant the seeds anyway.”

It’s obvious from Tremayne and Dewayne’s accomplishments and philosophy of life that the seeds fell right for them. Congratulations should go not only to them for their achievements, but also to those who gave them boundaries, teaching them the meaning of true happiness and fulfillment. Every child should be so lucky.

Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Readers may contact her at 704-278-4377.

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