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A mother's best advice

Readers share the best advice given by their mothers.
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MSNBC readers were encouraged to share the best advice given to them by their mothers (We are no longer taking submissions for this topic. Thank you for the thousands of wonderful responses).

Bloom where you're planted
My mom taught me that she loves me, no matter what. She taught me that holidays are there to be celebrated, and there's nothing wrong with making up holidays. She taught me to bloom where I'm planted, as an Army brat. She taught me to serve others when I'm feeling selfish. Whenever I went on a date or to a sleepover, she said, "Remember who you are, and who Heavenly Father wants you to be." She taught me that it's funniest to burp when you're all dressed up at the Christmas Dinner table. She taught me the value of chocolate. She taught me how to say "I love you," frequently but not casually. My mom's the best, and she's way better than I'll ever be. I'm gonna call her right now, and tell her so.
--Molly, Provo, Utah

Multigenerational and sound
"If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all."
"Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.  They'll wash clean."
"Work before play."
"You can if you think you can!"
"Keep your chin up.  It's not the end of the world."
Mom's Mom (Grandma) often said:
"Life isn't always fair."
"Never lie, cheat, or steal."
"Never be too proud to ask for help when you need it."
"You catch more flies w/honey than vinegar."
Now that's sound advice!  I love you Mom, and Grandma:-)
--J. McMillen, Lincoln, Neb.

Mom and best friend
My mother was the most special person in the world!  She raised six children by herself.  Her children ALWAYS came first.  She taught all of us to be compassionate, loving and to always be the best we could be.  My mother had to quit school in her teens, but she managed to get her degree in her 50's and then went on to get her nursing degree! I am so proud of what my mom accomplished.  I lost my mom 5 years ago.  I not only lost my mom, but I lost my BEST FRIEND! I miss her every day. She would have loved her great-granddaughter with all her heart! I'm sure she is looking down on her children, saying what wonderful mothers we are!  HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY MOM! I love you with all my heart!
--Arlene Shaffer, Palmyra, N.J.

Nothing you can’t do
When I was growing up there was just my brother and I.  He was four years older and quite a big guy that played a lot of sports.  I wanted to be like him and play all of the same sports.  My mom encouraged me to go out and play any sports that I wanted to and fought for me to be able to play with the boys.  She told me to never let anyone tell me I can't do anything because I'm a girl.  Today I work in technology which has been a male dominated work force until recently.  I have run across being paid less for the same job while my qualifications are more so.  I will never let that get me down or feel I can't do the same job as well or better then anyone.  I can do anything I set my mind to and work hard at.  At the same time, I have raised four children on my own for the past eleven years and I just know there isn't anything we can't accomplish.  Thank you, Mom.
--Donna MacDonald, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Give and take
My Grandmother took care of my brother and me while my Mom worked as a secretary to support us. On my wedding day I asked my Grandmother who just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary what it took to have a happy long lasting marriage, built on respect and love. She said "give and take in that order". I will never forget that and I try to apply that to all of my relationships including friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances. It has taught me to always think of others and my life is richer for it.
--Jennifer Cooper, Crossville, Tenn.

Multiple lessons of love
My mother taught me many valuable lessons for leading this life to its fullest. I was born after a period of 18 years from my elder brother so when I was born the rest of my brothers were finishing college. My mother tells me she devoted all of her time and energy for bringing me up. Now that I have turned 21 I have started to realize in how many ways I am blessed to have her as my dear mom.

My mother taught me to treat others with kindness and not with a harsh attitude. She told me to forgive and forget. I still remember when I was finishing high school my mother told me that she would not send me away for college because she loved me so much and she advised me these few things the night I was leaving my town for college abroad. She sat beside me held my hand and gently kissed my forehead and told me: "If you wish to succeed in this world you have to remember that you have to give in order to receive, you have to make love and not war, and it is always better to part with someone as friends and not as an enemy, in the end she told me if you want something badly enough and you work hard for it there is nothing in this world that can stop you from getting it."
I love you mother :) You're a beautiful angel in my life.
--Haider Zulfiqar, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Don't wish your life away
As a child growing fast, like all of us try to do, my mom would say to me and to my brother that we shouldn't wish our lives away by wishing we were older. I can remember saying to her I wish I was sixteen so that I could get my license and she would say you'll get there soon enough, stop wishing your life away. The next thing I knew I was driving. Then, I wished I was 21 so I could really be an adult and go out on the town with friends, my mom again said stop wishing your life away it will get here fast enough. The next thing I know I'm 21 and enjoying my adulthood. Now that I'm 34 I find myself saying the same thing to my daughter, I just hope she listens and is not in a big hurry to grow up. I would like to thank my mom for her loving words of advice, because now that I'm older I had wished I'd had listen to her about my life going by fast enough and spent a little more time enjoying the now. Love you, MOM!
--Melissa Dawson. East Liverpool, Ohio

Strength and tenderness
Say hello in there, appreciate others, especially elderly people. My Mom is the strongest person I've ever known, but it is her tenderness that is amazing. She even makes the "Tasmanian Devil" that my father can be, turn into something a little calmer. :) One thing that she and my father have always encouraged is to say hello in there to those who are lonely, especially the elderly. Growing up, we were taught that not everyone has someone. Living in a town of mostly retirees my Mom made sure, especially during the holidays, that those who were alone had a place to be. She made them feel welcome and cared for. She taught me that if you see them drop something, help them pick it up. If something is out of reach, bring it down for them. If they want to share a story, make sure to listen because it is something they need to share and something that may change your life. Thank you Mom for teaching me one of the most valuable lessons of life, no matter how a body ages, the spirit stays forever young.
--Maggie DuBose, Delray Beach, Fla.

Love learning
I could write a book about all the lessons my mother taught me, but I'll share a few that I hold most dear. One of her mottos was "always have a love for learning". A master at multi-tasking, she managed to complete her Bachelor's Degree while raising four children and began her teaching career at the age of 44. She went on to earn her Master's Degree in her late 50's. She also taught me acceptance. It didn't matter if someone was black, white, gay or straight. She treated everyone with warmth and respect. She encouraged individuality and never questioned my decision to be childfree. She passed along her love of the fine arts. She was an accomplished classical pianist and enjoyed many other types of music as well. I can remember being a bit disappointed when my father bought the Beatles "White Album" for her instead of my brothers and me. She was also a stickler for good skin care and staying out of the sun. By following her advice, I've been told that I look years younger than my age. She maintained a youthful spirit into her golden years. She was a brilliant, beautiful and loving person. I miss her more than words can say.
--Mary, Wisconsin

Be yourself
As a child and young adult I was shy, taller than most girls, and unsure of myself except when it came to sports and music.  I truly enjoyed books, thinking and dreaming, art, writing, and building projects all things that require alone planning time, and are in fact my strong points. As a child I was called "stuck-up" something that hurt a great deal since being a thoughtful dreamer I dearly valued people.  As an adult I have been called "aloof", but I would say reserved. A term I consider a compliment, as my mother taught me to "be myself, don't worry about what others who do not value you think of you."  I like who I am and I have MOM to thank. Thank you Gerry Beresford Hemphill.  
--Lee Weaver, Casa Grande, Ariz.

Imagine it and it can happen
What stands out for me is when I relapsed on crack and alcohol after 3 year of sobriety. My mom found me on the streets homeless, dirty, hungry and close to death and believing I will never be sober again, she told me something so simple that I will never forget. She said "You did it once, you can do it again, all you have to do is imagine yourself being clean and sober, if you can do that it will happen." My mom always made me believe I can do anything. On that day I began to believe. That was in 1993. This July 2005 I will be celebrating 12 years of sobriety. I am a outreach counselor sharing me mothers simple message to all those who are still sick and suffering on the streets. I love you mom. I bet heaven is a much better place with you their. Oh great! Now I'm in tears.
--Eddie D. Utica, New York, N.Y.

Helping everyone
I was raised by my grama and so this is dedicated to her for all the wonderful things she did. Although poor, she never let us know it by the way she would help people who came to our house asking for water. We lived close to the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas and we saw many people enter the States to try and make a better life for themselves and their families. My grama not only gave them water and food but made sure they always took a little extra for the road. She always told me that it might be Jesus in disguise and to never say no to someone who asked for food. So this goes to my special angel and to the angel of all those whom she helped. My grama Magdalena.
--Juanita Silvas, Canutillo, Texas

Wise advice
My mother gave me two very valuable pieces of advice. First, never marry a man who is not as smart as you are or you will spend the rest of your life pretending to be dumb. Second, never pass up the opportunity to use the bathroom or eat something. You never know when you will get another chance. Both pieces of advice have served me well!
--Kit Santiago, Grants Pass, Ore.

Don't sweat it
My mother taught me many valuable lessons, but the one that I remember the most is "don't sweat the small stuff".  She would tell me, "Who cares if your child is wearing diapers at three, or drinking a bottle at two, or still wanting a pacifier at two?"  She told me by the time they get into school, they all are out of diapers, don't drink bottles or suck on their pacifiers, she said it just doesn't matter.  As a mother of four I learned to follow that rule, it takes a lot of pressure off of your children and the parents!!!  Mom has been gone for a long time and I miss her every day.  Thanks Mom for all of your wisdom!!
--Jan Martino, Homer Glen, Ill.

Multiple lessons
My mother taught me that I can always make due with what I have.
My mother taught me that when people lash out at me it's only because they are hurting and frustrated.
My mother taught me to look for the man that was truly interested in me, instead of the man I had to chase down.
My mother taught me that foul language makes the speaker sound ignorant and coarse, while a full vocabulary brings tact and clarity.
My mother taught me that books were the best and cheapest way to travel the world.
My mother taught me that the best way to end arguments around the dinner table is to smile and squish pudding through your teeth.
--Julia, Tampa, Fla.

Tough love
It's hard to choose only one!  But what stands out in my mind is when I was 17; I had dropped out of school and was just lying around the house, for a long time.  One day mom said "well, you'll have to start paying rent or leave."  I was hurt and angry as only a teenager could be and didn't speak to her for a week or two.  Eventually, I got a job, paid rent and even bought and paid for a brand new car a few years later. I look back and am so grateful that my mother had taken a "tough love" stance and taught me that the world doesn't owe me a living.  I know I turned out to be a better person for it; independent and self-reliant, even though I realized later it must have been a difficult thing for my mother to have done.  I'll always be grateful to her for that "tough love".  She's 79 now, and I'm grateful that we can share "just love" together!!
--Anne Garramone, Boonton, N.J.

Respect others
My mom, Jean Packard, died from ovarian cancer at the age of 55. Not a day goes by that her spirit, humor, and intelligence doesn't reflect in my daily life. She taught me to respect others and their opinions, even if you don't agree. She was a strong believer in human rights and, when Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered, she very boldly told off my sister's 3rd grade teacher when she made an inappropriate racial slur. She may have been a short chubby Girl Scout leader from Ohio, but her honesty and warmth to all she met are the most important parts of her I see in myself every day. I miss her terribly, but know we'll play "Marathon Scrabble" again some day.
--Cindy Stidham, Eustace, Texas

Actions speak louder than words
The one thing I learned from my mom was not by any words that she actually spoke.  It was by her actions and her character.  My mom showed me how to be compassionate, non-judgmental, loving, and sympathetic.  We have an open door policy--that is how my mom was.  Even when I had the worst break-up in my life (first love) -- my mom understood that I still wanted to see this boy -- and as angry as she was with him--she let him come back into her house and see me when he came to his senses.  It seems like a little thing--but to me--it should me what I want to be like for my own daughters. Thanks Mom
--JoAnn Clark, Mount Vernon, Ohio

Keep criticism private
When I was a teenager my brother was quarterback at our high school.  Our family went to every game, home or away.  One night, sitting in the stands at another school, I yelled something mean about a player on the other team.  My mom leaned over to me and said "Never say something negative about someone in public.  You never know if that's his mom and dad sitting in front of you."  How often this still applies in everyday life!  You never know how the people around you are related to someone you might be gossiping about.  Mom taught me that no good comes from being a gossip, and as an adult, I have a reputation as someone who does not gossip, and can keep a confidence.  Thanks mom!
--Gwen Markham, Novi, Mich.

Aging with grace
My mom, Jean Coe, always said she wanted to grow old gracefully. She is now 73, and she has shown me just what that means.  She embraces every day with an attitude of vigor and joy.  She finds good-hearted humor in the absurdities of human nature. In the past 10 years, Mom has gone whitewater rafting, polar bear spotting, deep sea fishing, and has taken classes on everything from the history of Iraq to dentistry.  She tackles new technology with aplomb, and has sped right past me in learning how to shoot and send digital photos across the net! My mom has a sweet innocence about her that melts people's walls and creates friends wherever she goes. She has shown me how to love life, to love yourself, and to seize the opportunities that come your way.
--Carol Hazelgrove, Converse, Texas

Laughter is the best medicine
My mom taught me that special moments are to be cherished!  That laughter is the best medicine!  That being silly made you feel good inside!  That loving and caring for people and not "things" is what's most valuable!  In January this year, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and while in the hospital, she called me to come - that she was scared.  When I got to the hospital, she looked so calm and I just stared at her.  As if reading my mind, she finally said, "Thank God for Paxil!"  We just laughed and laughed and cried too.  She then sang to me "Side By Side". That was a bittersweet, but precious moment.  My mother died about two weeks after that and since then my life has been drastically altered!  I SALUTE YOU MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOM!  HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!
--Karen Blechl-Horney. Pennsauken, N.J.

A special lesson
My mother always taught me to be compassionate and understanding to people who were mentally or physically disabled.  She taught me not to laugh or make fun of others who were less fortunate.  I remember once in Sunday School, a little girl (who looked very 'different' -- She was very pale and wore glasses that weren't very pretty to me, but I didn't tell her that!) wanted me to draw a bird for her in her lesson book.  We all had to draw a picture and she didn't know how to draw a bird "like mine." The other children wouldn't play with her much, but my cousin and I sat on either side of her. I drew a bird in her book and the next week, she didn't come back to Sunday School. My mother told me that my special friend had been very sick with her heart since birth and had died that week. I didn't say much, but I was very sad. I have never forgotten that in 50 years and I have always been glad I drew that bird for her. A little thing to do, but that drawing I did as a six year old was and is still very important to me and a good reminder regarding the little things in life being important. I never told my mother that story; but she is 82 now and I'm going to tell her that for Mother's Day. I think it will make her happy to know it!
--Brenda Gail Foster, Brandon, Miss.

Listen to your head
When I was pregnant with my first child, my mother told me that I would get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. She said, "Listen kindly, but make your own decisions.  Don't let anyone tell you what's best.  You'll figure that out on your own. If you don't know what to do, ask someone whose had experience."  As my pregnancy progressed, I found that I heard every horror story and every remedy and every "great tip" from well meaning people. Even strangers. But, my mother's advice was still the best. I've shared that advice with friends and co-workers since then, and they've always been grateful. It's nice to have reassurance that you can trust your instincts and don't have to feel guilty about not following another person's suggestion.
--Renee Engdahl, Camano Island, Wash.

Look past looks
My Mother's best advice was this: do not marry for looks, looks will fade over the years, and it's the personality you are left with. How true that has turned out to be!
--Nicole Schell, Durant, Okla.

Attitude is everything
"You do what you have to do". My mom had a busy and hectic life raising two daughters and working at the same time. My father was in the Navy so he was gone a lot. Times would get hard and mom would just say that phrase. I remember her going to the plumbing store to get directions on how to fix the toilet or to the automotive store for advise. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions or do things you don't like but your attitude determines how well you make it through the hard times. That was a lesson she taught both my sister and I. You do what you have to do (and just rock on).
--Tammie Andrews. Fort Worth, Texas

Come on in
My mother taught me that when it comes to men, "You are nobody's woman, you are a young lady who dates." We weren't allowed to take gifts from boys during the teen years. The only exception was a birthday or Christmas and it had to be modest, something that an average weekly allowance could afford. Boys weren't allowed to blow their car horns and we come running out, they had to come to our door and greet our parents. If one dared to blow, my mother would respond, "This isn't a pickup/livery service there are no packages or property here. Either move it on in here or move on!" 
--Mary Moore, Chicago, Ill.

Communication is key
My mother was an English teacher.  This was in the late 60's, early 70's. A lot of mothers will still stay at home mothers. We were "latch key" kids before there ever was such a phrase. My mother worked hard and was an excellent teacher. Education was important.  She taught my sister and I to be independent and to speak and write proper English.  She said, "A person who can grasp the proper way to speak and write will always have doors opened to them, that would otherwise be shut."
My mother used to read to me at night. Because of that, I love to read and read to my daughter at night. She was always there of us girls and we knew we were loved. Mom loved to sew and bake cookies at Christmas, my sister and I have passed those loves onto our children.  Passing on our mother's joys and love is important, my mother now has Alzheimer's and with each passing year the mother we knew is fading.  Passing on these loves and joys means that our mother will always be with us.
--Sarah Barker, Atlanta, Ga.

Look to the inside
Things are not always as they seem; people are not always as they seem.  Look beyond the outside (skin color, shabby clothing, etc.) and find the pearl that may be inside. Treat the maintenance man and the CEO the same way -- with respect. If we all respect one another how much we would all gain. My mother couldn't speak English well, couldn't write English well (wrote phonetically), but taught me that one can learn so much from everyone you meet in life.  Smile and enjoy the journey.
--Trice Gately, Paramus, N.J.

Think before you speak
"Engage your brain, before opening your mouth"! My Mom is now having some of her own difficulty with this mantra, at the young age of 91 she occasionally will run in to a problem with friends because she is so honest! Naturally, being raised in a Southern home, we were all taught to mind our manners and the only thing I used to get in trouble for was you guessed it, "Little James, Your Mouth will be the Death of You."  We still laugh about this and many other memories. I cherish each day I'm able to take 10 minutes and just give her a call to see how her day is going. 
--Jimmie M. Turenne, Glastonbury, Conn.

Little things special
My mother taught me to make every day special and to be as creative as possible in the effort.  I can remember so many little things that, in retrospect, made my life a little better, a little more fun, and a little happier. I can remember breakfast on various St Patrick's Day with pancakes dyed green with food coloring. I remember a pizza with blue crust (to celebrate Paul McCartney's birthday -- blue was supposedly his favorite color). Another fun thing she did was to do a quick sketch on my brown paper lunch bags -- the sketch was a puzzle to determine what I had for lunch that day (for example, a pig laying on an ironing board -- pressed ham sandwiches!)  I can remember being surrounded by friends at the lunch table, all wanting to guess my lunch that day!

Those are the things I remember best, not what I got for Christmas, or some show we attended. It was the little everyday things that made our lives anything but everyday!  In turn, I have followed faithfully my mother's path to genuine happiness and caring in our family, and it is just as appropriate today as it was when I was a child. I knew I was loved, and in turn, was able to pass the love on to my two children.
--Geri Bleau, Waveland, Miss.

A Southern Lady
My mother is truly a Southern Lady and she brought my sister and me up in the same southern fashion.  "A lady never paints her toenails," which I do but I still feel just a little bit naughty.  "A lady never brushes her hair or puts on lipstick in public." But her most famous lessons are "A lady only chews gum in the privacy of her boudoir."  At 45 and 46 years old, my sister and I still do not chew gum in public.  Mom is one of my best friends and I hope I will always be the lady she taught me to be.
--Phylis Walker Lovell, Memphis, Tenn.

Love and guidance
My mother was a very strong woman who reared up four children by herself with enormous help from her mother grandma) who babysat with us in order for my mother to work and provide us with food, clothes, etc.  We grew up in a broken home as they say, since our father left us and didn't help us in any way.

There was no such thing as child support in my days.  A mother's love and guidance was the greatest achievement in her days with her family. My mother always taught us to help anyone in need.  If people came over for a visit she would always have a little more of everything just in case someone dropped by unexpectedly. My mother is 81 years old and just as great as always.  May God bless her as there is no one like her.
--Haydee Sevilla, Tampa, Fla.

Putting education first
Get your degree.  My mom quit her senior year in college to get married and have a family.  She always regretted it.  She said I don't care if you did ditches, you'll be doing it with a degree and one day if you don't want to dig ditches the degree will get you in the door.  She was right. I'm a petroleum engineer and my four siblings have their degrees also. My sister, the housewife, has a master's in industrial safety.
--Kristy Allman Monk, Ohio

Move away from trouble
Get out of here. I was 18 and involved with a guy about 25 and not from the best family. I listened and joined the Army. About 25 years later this guy was sitting in a bar hitting on my 21 year old niece. Mom gave me good advice.
--Mary Eileen, Spring Hill, Fla.

Hard work and independence
My mother taught me the ethics of hard work. She worked in a factory for over forty years and taught me how to do laundry, cook, clean and take care of my 3 brothers at a very early age. In return I turned out to be very independent and have a very good work ethic. She also taught me to have something to show for my money when I spent it. I am carrying on the tradition with my own two children who also have their own chores to do and they also are independent. If they get hungry and mom is at work they know how to fix something to eat and clean up their mess.
--Debbie Chambers, Fort Worth, Texas

Do your best
Where do I start?! My mother, Ruth Peace, is so wise that it's hard to pick just one piece of wisdom. But probably the best advice she ever gave me was this:  "All that anyone can ever ask is that you do your best." When times are tough and I struggle, personally or professionally, I try to remember that if I've given it my best I can be proud, regardless of the outcome.
--Shari Peace, Centerville, Ohio

Do to others...
The most important lesson my mother taught me was to treat people the way that I wanted them to treat me.  She not only taught this lesson but she lived by example.  My mom has always been there to help people even when they did not help her and when to used her.  She stated that her mom was the same way.  My grandmother would help people with food from her garden even though the same people would talk about and mistreat her.  When it came time that the other people needed food and their gardens had not done as well as my grandmother's garden then they would need her help and my mom said that she would never turn them away.  I do the same thing.  People mistreat me and hurt me but when they need help I am the first person that they seek help from.  I find that this a great lesson and that you never lose when you do good for evil.  
--Pamela J. Massenburg

Hard work
I am the youngest of nine children, so my four brothers and four sisters say that I am spoiled.  If getting my parents to myself longer than anyone makes me spoiled, I guess I am.  My mother worked outside of the home for the first time when I started kindergarten and didn't stop until she retired at age 65.  She taught all of us the value of hard work and honesty. Mother taught all of us -- especially the five girls -- that we are valuable as people and that we should not settle for anything or anyone that didn't make us happy. Mom and Dad have been married for almost 60 years.  I am thankful to them for setting such a wonderful example of how to live, laugh and especially, love.
--Michelle Lumley, Garden City, Kan.

Dating advice
Look both ways before crossing a street. Oh, okay. The best advice that my mother gave me was a safety precaution when dating. If a boy tells you; "If you love me you will sleep with me." The reply my mother "armed me" with was; "If you love me you won't ask!"  This saying of hers saved me from making mistakes that I would have regretted as a teenager in high school. When the pressure was on I was well armed.
--Karen L. Wolf, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Love yourself
My mother taught me that being poor wasn't a crime, she told us as children to be contended with what we had, to take pride in ourselves, that material things was not the most important things in life. She also taught us that the neighborhood didn't have to know we were in need. She also insisted on being honest. As a result of what I have learnt as a child I can have very little and not get depressed and think about doing dishonest things. I have learned to be content. By the way she also taught us not to be envious of what other people had.
--Jane Green, Bloomfield Conn.

Life gets easier
The most important lesson my mom, Rebecca, ever taught me is, that it gets easier. No matter what it is it always gets easier. This lesson rang true all my life, but never more then after my mom passed away. It was Christmas, it was unexpected, I was 22 and hadn't seen her in a year. I was destroyed. I didn't know how to live without her in my life. Even though I lived 3,000 miles away we talked almost everyday and she was my rock. A few months later I came across a Post-It note that had her handwriting on it. In the months prior it was the type of thing that would have caused uncontrollable sobs, but at that moment I had good memories of my mom and of our relationship and I felt happy for the first time in a long time. And I realized again, she was right, it gets easier. It's only been a little over two years and I still cry and I miss her more than I could ever express, but it getting easier.
--C.T., Washington, D.C.

What's the worst that could happen?
My mom is a very down to earth person. A no-nonsense, no jewelry, no-frills-or-lace type of lady. Her best words of advice had to be, "What's the worst thing that can happen?" coupled with, "You will never die of embarrassment." They were simple statements that, when explained, made you realize what's important. She explained that no one else should care that you have a run in your stocking, or that you spilled spaghetti sauce on yourself, or that you're having a bad hair day. And if they do care about those sort of things or make you feel embarrassed about them, they aren't worthy of your time and energy. Rather, you should take a breath, smile and realize that nothing and no one is perfect and that you will never die of embarrassment. It's freeing to not feel so encumbered by embarrassment given my ability to spill just about everything!  Thanks Mom! I love you!
--Judy Schanbacher, Quakertown, Pa.

Optimism pays off
Big Momma or Ban, which is short for Banice, taught me and the rest of my siblings to simply have faith and believe in a better/brighter day. She stressed the value of hard work and personal accountability as I can still hear her saying "Every Tub has to sit on its own bottom." She loved us one and all and didn't forget to let us know that God loved us more. Although she died in July 2003 her spirit lives on. The testimony to her and my father's success lie in the fact that although neither one graduated from high school they produced five college graduates who all have achieved both career and family Success. Mom I/We LOVE you and will never forget you.
--Fredric M. Toney, Miami, Fla.

It never hurts to ask
When I was a kid, the rule was that if we wanted to spend the night at a friend’s house, we had to ask my parents a week ahead of time. One night a friend, who lived across the street, called to see if I could spend the night. I automatically said that I couldn't because of the short notice. When I got back to the dinner table, my mom asked about the call. After I told her, she said that if I had asked she would have let me go and that "It never hurts to ask."
--Amanda Pabustan, Sammamish, Wash.

Seeing mom in a different light
As the sixth of 12 children, my mom always had very open soft arms for all of us. It was not an easy childhood, but growing up I never knew we were poor! I was sixteen and broke a huge rule of the house, after which I was the first of her children she ever grounded. She also did not talk to me for a whole week. Then she sat me down and explained to me that she was simply Peggy, still a young girl at heart, but with huge responsibilities -- at the time she was a widow with 11 children at home and few resources. It was as if a huge light bulb literally exploded in my head. I saw her as Peggy, not Mom. I never again lied or disrespected her, our relationship was the envy of all my friends. I tried to give the experience to my son and it gave him level of respect for his grandmother that just will go on and on for generations.
--Monica, Plymouth, Wis.

Honesty starts with one's self
The most important lesson my mother has taught me is that being an honest person doesn't just mean telling the truth. Honesty doesn't stop at avoiding the big lies, and embracing the small white ones. Being an honest person and someone whom others can trust is in the way we live our lives. I am so proud to say that my mother is one of those people, honest and trustworthy. A dying breed, really. She taught me that being honest with others starts with being honest with one's self. As we all know, being honest with yourself is one of the hardest things a person has to face. I've seen my mom face some hard times in her life, and as an adult I am truly honored to have been in the presence of such honesty and grace. I love you mom!
--Sharla Egan, Mesa, Ariz.

Strong to the end
My Mom, Evelyn Borgstrom taught me many things. One thing she told me and my siblings is that God never gives you more than you can handle. She passed away in 2002. Like many people of the Depression Generation, she had had a tough life. I did everything I could to make her life better, happier and easier. Though she was a petite person physically, in many ways, she was a very strong person, so strong, she chose to stop medical treatment because she was very ill, with no hope for recovery and she was ready to die. She had suffered for years from chronic pain and numerous hospitalizations, and painful tests and medical procedures. Finally, Mom said no more. She said so to relieve her family from having to make the decision. She was ready to go. She had faith and knew she was going to go to heaven. I didn't think I could ever live a day without Mom, but with God's help, I got through those very difficult and dark days. I think of her often and will love her forever. Thanks, Mom. I Love You!
--Janice Massucci, Wichita, Kan.

Looking beyond life
My mother who not only taught me to be the best that I can, she taught me that life is not always about living here on earth. Its that no matter where you are weather here or there that wherever you are you can still see everything you want, like your granddaughter graduating or getting married or even seeing your great-grand-daughter being born. Heaven is just as good! Maybe even better! They don't feel pain there! So when someone who is so close goes up to that wonderful place called heaven don't cry cuz they're gone cry cause they are in a place where they can eat all the candy they want and never get a belly ache! They never really leave, she said! They are always there in your heart you just have to look! So when you can't see them here on earth close your eyes and you will see them running and skipping and laughing. So don't be sad, smile and know that one day you will be running, skipping and smiling like they are!
--Ashley Eldridge, Fairbanks, Alaska

A valuable lesson
My mother taught me how important it is to take care of yourself and to put yourself first when you need to. You see, my mother died of cancer when she was 36 years old. She and my father were in the process of adopting my sister when she found a lump under her arm. She worried that if she went to the doctor she wouldn't be able to adopt her. By the time she went to the doctor she was very sick. She died two years later, when I was seven and my sister was three, of breast cancer. I have three children now and I want to be here for them, to help them grow up and to watch them get married and have kids of their own. These are the things that my mother never got to do and see. In turn, I learned from my sweet, young mother that no one is invincible and that I have to put myself first so I can be here for my children. In memory of Arleen Rose Gordon and in honor of Jack, Olivia and Caroline.
--Amy Rose Rueckert, McKinney, Texas