Mother’s Day | Poignant Tributes, Trips, Tender Moments, and Giggles

“M” is for the Million Things She Gave Me By Kathy Huff

“M”   is for the million things she gave me

“O”   means that she’s only growing old

“T”   is for the tears she shed to save me

“H”   is for her heart of purest gold

“E”   is for her eyes with love light shining

“R”   means right, and right she’ll always be

Put them all together, they spell “MOTHER,”

A word that means the world to me.

–Howard Johnson

It’s May, and for Americans, that means Mother’s Day. The tradition of celebrating our mothers began in 1914 when Congress passed a resolution setting aside the second Sunday of May as the day to honor mothers everywhere. This year that Sunday falls on May 8, and in classrooms and places of worship everywhere, children are creating artistic masterpieces to depict their love for their mothers, many of them in ways only a mother could appreciate. The florists, candy stores and jewelry stores will ring up record sales, and greeting cards dedicated to Mother’s Day will fly off the shelves.

BELLA asked random readers to send in stories about their mothers. To spur their creative juices, a few questions were posed. The replies, as expected, were often stirring and sometimes hilarious. Several responders answered the questions as given; others wrote stories about a particular event in their lives involving their mothers; a couple of writers waxed eloquent about the values or overall lessons learned at their mother’s knee. BELLA is grateful to all the following contributors for sharing their love for their mothers in print for all readers to appreciate. Each contributor below is referring to her/his mother, also named.

  • Ann Herring: Marian Paden Urban
  • Brad Kuhn: Jean Coffin Kuhn
  • Pat Lynn: Lila Naomi Haynes Huhn
  • Will Durrett: Marie Durrett
  • Mary White: Nona Catherine Burke Mudge
  • Linda Prior Hunley: Betsy Baker Prior
  • Elise DeLoach Faulkner: Pawnee Elizabeth Summerall DeLoach
  • Lillian Gaffney: My grandmothers name: Lillian Elizabeth Jenkins mothers name: Mary Auld
  • Jyoti Parry: Theresa Albert Parry
  • Helen Naylor: Marion Plouffe
  • Pat Kirk: Sara Ellen Barker
  • Janice Howell: Louise Buabee Kneece

What is/was the most memorable thing about your mother?

Her ability to listen. When I poured out my heart to her, she would just listen, making those loving, sympathetic clucking noises until I was finally done sobbing. “Is that all? Anything else?” “No,” I would respond, finally dry-eyed, “that’s all.” Only then would she go into action…“Okay, let’s see what we can do….” –Ann Herring

My mother’s love for me and her family and her love of beauty are most memorable. – Brad Kuhn

Her laughter and her determination – Jyoti Parry

Mother was a fantastic cook. I never realized it until I moved out and became married myself. Forty years later I am still amazed how day after day and week after week after grocery shopping only on Fridays (payday) she was able to produce a delicious meal complete with homemade biscuits. No microwave. No crock pot. All homemade and all good! – Anonymous

The ways she gives and her unselfishness. She is definitely a giver. Not just to friends and family but to others as well. In fact there have been times that she has been quicker to give to a stranger than to her own family, knowing that we are well taken care of. I think that is a great trait that she has instilled in me. I have vivid memories of her bringing me lunch to Schofield Middle School, while providing lunch for ten other of my buddies as well! I could go on and on with stories where she has put others first.The beauty of it is that she never expects any recognition or praise in return. – Will Durrett

Her ability to connect with anyone. My mother really listens to people without judging them and they open up to her. – Linda Prior Hunley

How does/did your mother inspire you?

My mother always told me that I could do anything I wanted if I just tried hard enough. I believed her. – Ann Herring

She gave me the self confidence to do what I thought I could not do. – Brad Kuhn

In spite of all odds, keep moving forward. – Jyoti Parry

Mother never complained about her job. Not once. She simply did it. She would arise at 5:30 and off she went. It wasn’t because she loved her job of being a secretary, it was because of her appreciation for having a job. Having lived thru the depression, she was thankful for her job as she offered her best each day. – Anonymous

Well, being a mom could arguably be one of the toughest jobs out there. My mom in particular has not only been a mom, but successful in doing so. That inspires me to make others around me better. She has overcome many obstacles throughout her personal life to get to where she is. She has instilled a lot of fight and perseverance in me throughout the years – Will Durrett

My mother was involved in all kinds of sports and activities like bridge, book clubs. She (and my dad) gave me many lessons in every sport from ice skating to horseback riding so that I would be well-rounded. Besides giving me unconditional love, she encouraged me to become a teacher and go beyond even a master’s degree. So her greatest gift to me probably was her varied interests and how she encouraged me to try as many activities, sporty and intellectual, as I could during my life. She was a stickler on graciousness and manners–both of which are lacking today. It is astounding how few people write actual thank you notes! – Pat Kirk

What do you do to honor your mother?

I tell our son that he can do anything he wants if he just tries hard enough. I know he wants to believe me. I continue to tell stories about her and try to be the type of person and mother that she would have wanted me to be. – Ann Herring

I think of her often, and I feel her loving presence. – Brad Kuhn

Keep her with me every moment – Jyoti Parry

I believe that I honor my mother by remembering her almost every day. As I grow older I realize how many things I do just like her. I think of her as I do these things and often comment “Mother would love seeing me do this!” –Anonymous

Each Mother’s Day I make a commitment to change or improve something in my personal life that I know will make her proud. I typically write out in a card whatever it may be, and then I do my best to honor my commitment throughout the year. – Will Durrett

I try to spread her philosophy of life and her joyous style. – Linda Prior Hunley

What is/was special about your mother-daughter (or mother- son) relationship?

Unconditional love. – Ann Herring A man never forgets his mother. – Brad Kuhn

Her spontaneity and readiness to instigate good times. – Linda Prior Hunley

We were deep friends. – Jyoti Parry

The most special thing was how much I knew I was loved by her although she never said it and she was not affectionate. Mother was shy and grew up in the era of “children should be seen and not heard.” She didn’t have to verbally say that she loved me by her actions I never doubted how deeply she loved me. – Anonymous

There were many times, especially during early childhood, growing up that Dad was working real hard to provide and Mom had to step up and play BOTH roles. She would get us to games and practices, and do her best to learn so that she could assist in our improvement in a given activity. She has always pushed for us (my brother and I) to have the best and to be the best, even if we had to work hard to get it. – Will Durrett

What memento of your mother is dearest to you and why?

I live in her house where I feel peace and security – Brad Kuhn

Her engagement and wedding rings. Because she never took them off. – Jyoti Parry

I cherish the china my grandmother left my mother because I cherished the relationship with my Granny. I received the set when my mother passed away at 57. The dishes symbolized family coming together to laugh, play, and the simple act of a ritual of holiday meals spent at my Granny’s house. Those memories are ones of the love that went into the meal, the abundance of food, the elegance of the table, the hide and seek we played as kids in her eight-bedroom house.

The memory of peppermint Chiclets she kept in the top drawer of her kitchen cabinet, or tucked in her apron. Memories of the aroma of the food and Granny. Her finger wave hair-do with those old fashioned thick elastic stockings, old lady pump shoes, the different aprons tied around her large soft bodice. The smile, the love she had for me—her special namesake, Lillian Elizabeth. The dishes, the beautiful Noritake china, sit today in an oak antique glass cabinet in my dining room filled with fond memories. If they could sing, they would be songs of long gone days of memories filled with joy and laughter. Many a meal they have served since. Now, the table sets for two, me and my hubby. Maybe, it’s time to set that table and make some new memories. – Lillian Gaffney

A ceramic baking dish that I gave her for Mother’s day when I was 15. She loved it and used it for forty years producing many delicious entrees. – Anonymous

Many might remember that it was customary to receive a pin for a year’s worth of perfect attendance in Sunday school. The first year pin was a white enameled medallion with a red cross on it. The recognition for a second year of perfect attendance a gold wreath to surround the medallion. The award for the third and subsequent years was a bar to attach in sequence below the wreath, each one enameled either red, white, or blue and bearing a number – third, fourth, fifth, etc. My mother, Lila Naomi Haynes Huhn, achieved perfect attendance for 16 years in a Methodist Church Sunday school. You can imagine how long her pin became, and how awkward it was to wear it on her clothing. Therefore, she created a bracelet with her chain of awards. It is that bracelet of hers that I cherish and proudly wear to this day as a reminder of her faithfulness in all that she did – for her friends, her family, and her Saviour – Jesus Christ. – Pat Lynn

There are some pretty sentimental pictures of us throughout the years, but I would have to say it is her lasagna. She can make a mean one! – Will Durrett

My mother was involved in all kinds of sports and activities like bridge, book clubs. She (and my dad) gave me many lessons in every sport from ice skating to horseback riding so that I would be well-rounded. Besides giving me unconditional love, she encouraged me to become a teacher and go beyond even a master’s degree. So her greatest gift to me probably was her varied interests and how she encouraged me to try as many activities, sporty and intellectual, as I could during my life. – Pat Kirk

The three-volume set of “Southern Nature Stories,” written by her father, Dr. W.B. Baker, a professor at Emory University. The first volume was published and dedicated to her the year she was born.  Linda Prior Hunley

Surprising the Smartest Woman I Know

by Linda Prior Hunley

Surprising the smartest woman I know was one of the hardest, wildest, most fun things I’ve ever done. The wild and fun factor of this caper was magnified since I would be recruiting her ve wiggly children, of which I am the eldest!

My mother, Betsy Baker Prior, grew up in Atlanta in the 30s and 40s. She was born the same year as Mickey Mouse and The Varsity Hot Dog. Atlanta was in full swing! She was the cute, vivacious youngest child of an Emory biology professor’s family, living and playing with other faculty children in the tree filled neighborhoods close to Emory’s exciting campus during the “great generation” years. Being eight and 10 years younger than her brother and sister and being surrounded by polished “knowers” and speakers who were always busy with “very important business” led the way to my mother’s early realization that acting talent and stagecraft gets results! I’ve always suspected that my mother is constantly working on her “script” even while sleeping. She’s never caught “speechless.” She is also very, very, very smart and knows the ways of even the wiliest rascal.

I LOVE my mother! I wanted to dream up an 80th surprise birthday party for her that would include ALL of her favorite things: 1. Big Family 2. Good Party 3. The Fox Theater 4. Movies 5. Varsity Hot Dogs (all the way) 6. Mickey Mouse 7. Dressing Up and Looking Glamorous 8. Fabulous Atlanta Friends from Agnes Scott College and Druid Hills High School 9. Swing Era Music and Dancing 10. Balloons, Roses, Cake, and FUN.

Miraculously all of my wiggly siblings and my mother’s Atlanta friends kept the secret during one entire, gruelingly long year and perfectly carried out EVERY single detail of the elaborate caper. We kept the secret plans from our father until the very day of the party out of kindness to him, because it’s just too hard for him to keep a fun secret! My big family and my mother’s wonderful Altanta childhood friends dressed like movie stars, arrived early, and waited inside the Fox Theater’s ornate Landmarks Lounge, which was heavily perfumed with Varsity Hot Dogs All The Way and thumping with 40s swing music….

Dressed in red organza boas, golden shoes, and diamonds (rhinestones?), my mother and I walked from the Georgian Terrace Hotel (home to the “Gone With The Wind” premier) and across Peachtree Street. We looked up at the Fox Theater’s neon marquee to see “BETSY! LIVE! 6PM!” scrolling across in giant letters right on cue! What none of us had known was that an international ballroom competition was also taking place at the Fox Theater that night. Gorgeous, costumed people circled around the block in a line to buy tickets at the Fox Theater box office below the marquee.

The desired effect was complete! My mother’s bright red lipsticked mouth was wide open and SPEECHLESS (almost): “Oh! Honey! What in the WORLD am I supposed to say!!!

Helen and the Horses: A Mother’s Day Remembrance

By Helen Naylor

From the sighs and frowns, I could tell my mother was never happy hanging around a public horseback riding barn. My step-father, I fear, courted my mother and brought huge pressure to bear upon her to marry him when he bought me a pony and brought it to my grandmother’s house in the back seat of a newly purchased Buick. My mother, a very pretty woman and of the Victorian persuasion, was horrified to see my step-father open the back door of the new car, reach in and lift out a four-legged Shetland pony. He carried it to the driveway, set it down and walked it our back yard, where a small, fenced-in paddock was waiting for the pony. My mother was speechless.

They did get married and I was thrilled to have a step-father who spent time with me teaching me how to ride. My mother tried very hard to get ‘in the swing,’ so to speak, of horses. She’d put on long pants and boots, a kerchief over her hair, and sit in a chair in a horse barn, trying to read a book. She didn’t like the smell of the old barn, nor the smell of horses. Myself, I’d bury my nose in a horse’s neck and take a deep breath. The smell of barns, horses and leather always pleased me. My mother turned an odd shade of blue each Sunday morning as we got into the car to make our weekly, family visit to the local public riding barn.

My step-father enjoyed going to the horse races. Back then horse racing was a major sport in the USA. As a family we used to go to Suffolk Downs race track outside Boston. My mother liked attending the races better than visiting a barn. She’d read the names of the horses in the race and pick the name she liked the best – names like Philip’s Pride, or Helen’s Day, or Cook the Cake, or Set The Table. She’d bet her $2 or $4 on the favorite name, and very often, her horse would win. It was one of the funniest memories of my childhood, to watch my step-father blow off steam, stomp his feet, sit down, stand up each time she won the horse race and he lost!

He’d say, “Now, Helen, that’s not fair. Mom only picked a name, I studied all the races in the Racing Form and that horse she picked – he should NEVER win a race! How did she do that…it is just not fair!”

One weekend, my mother was annoyed at my step-father for betting the horses too much. She put her foot down and told him not to go the races any more. He said he wouldn’t. On Saturday morning, he was preparing to leave the house with me and she asked him, “Where are you going?” He said, “I thought I’d take a drive down to Newton and visit my brother Fred. I’ll stop and get a sandwich for Helen on the way back. We’ll be home later this afternoon.” My mother snorted and said, “O.K. – but I am warning you, don’t go to the horse races.” He said, “No worries. We won’t go the races.”

The next day, Sunday, we were at the breakfast table. My mother was reading the Sunday “Boston Globe.” She put the paper down and glared at my stepfather. “So, you visited your brother yesterday?” she asked in a sharp tone of voice. My stepfather looked up from his plate and said, “Yes, I told you we had a very nice visit with Freddie and Mary. Their garden looks great.” With that my mother tossed him the Sports Section of the newspaper she was reading.

In the middle of the front page of the section was a picture of me, with my braids, standing on top of a child’s slide, with other kids around the slide. The story underneath the photo was about the new Children’s Park recently opened at Suffolk Downs racetrack in Boston. Saturday was the first day children could play in it. The photographer had asked me my name and I told him. I also told him my mother didn’t want me, or my step-father to go the races that day so I hoped he wouldn’t write about me. I guess the picture was too nice, or the Children’s Park too successful not to run the newspaper story. My mother had caught us! The breakfast grew quiet and my father got up and excused himself from the table.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of a mother….

Two Grandmothers and a Mother Raise a Child of Divorce

By Elise DeLoach Faulkner

When thinking about my mother, I am forever in awe of her quiet determination when she was young and raising me as a single parent in the early 1950’s.

Divorce was rarely heard of back then, but she returned to Aiken after the War, having worked at the Charleston Navy Shipyard. With a college education, she worked as a teller at a local bank and quickly landed a job as a local bank vice president. Born and reared on a farm in Aiken on what is now the “south side,” she had returned to her roots and family. While she worked, I was fortunate to have the option of staying with either set of grandparents here who lived three miles apart on Pine Log Road. They were farmers and saw to it that I had as much exposure to life in the country as possible and also to revere the land. I still love to dig in the dirt.

Mom saw to it that regular church and worship, helping others in need, and proper manners were integral parts of life, and that connections to family was essential to knowing “my roots.”

She was a trailblazer in the ‘50’s and it took me a long time to realize that about her. Her quiet determination and the love and security she provided has had a significant effect it on my rearing my son who now has children of his own.

In thinking about mothers I feel compelled also to acknowledge my appreciation and reverence for both my grandmothers who had significant influences on me in very different ways. My maternal grandmother Pawnee was a no-nonsense disciplinarian and former school teacher in Windsor endured hours of bean bag toss with me on afternoons on the front porch after finishing my after-school lessons. Jewel, my paternal grandmother, was much more liberal. She allowed me and my playmates to get as dirty as we wanted while playing, eat on the back porch, gorge ourselves in the summer with watermelons brought from the eld on the joggling board, and endure cold baths with the hose on the back porch in the evening. These ladies were the yin and yang of childrearing and being such an “intuitive child,” I naturally capitalized on that.

Jeez Louise!

By Janice Kneece Howell

I have been so blessed in my life because of my mom, Louise Busbee Kneece. She was such a diligent worker outside and inside of our home as well. Many times you would know how tired she had to be but she never complained or stopped until all was done.

My mom was a wonderful cook, all of my four sisters and two brothers inherited this gift from her, I am still a work in progress. It amazes me how she could make a meal on Sundays that fed so many of her children and grandchildren and still stayed within her budget. I have always said she could get a dime out of a nickel which I believe is a great attribute.

I am the youngest of seven siblings. How in the world my mom raised seven children is amazing in itself. Each and everyone of us have our own personality, but we all have one main bond – our love, respect, and admiration for our mother. We all realize that she was not perfect as no one is – but she sure was close.

I have many but one of my most memorable moments is when I was maybe 6 or 7, mom made this one particular dress for me. It was red polka dot with a big sash that tied in the back with a ruffle around the hem. What a “Shirley Temple” experience for me. I think I wanted to wear it everyday! Mom made a lot of my clothes when I was young but this dress was my all time favorite. How I wish I still had it. By the way, red is still my favorite color to this day.

Mom had a special ability in making every one of her children feel special. I was the baby of my mom’s brood and she always gave me the comfort and reminder of being her “baby” no matter what age I became.

Mom died April 16th, 2005 after many years of dealing with a massive stroke. I since have lost two brothers and one sister. My grief is something I deal with every day for each of my lost loved ones but I have solace knowing that mom once again is looking over part of her brood in heaven.

I love you mom and miss you dearly!