They feed us. Clothe us. Help us learn to tie our shoes. Drive us to games, dance practice and music lessons. Lecture us, hold us, love us. They're leaders, friends, confidantes and teachers.
It may be hard to sum up Mom in 125 words or less, but we asked Times Free Press readers to do just that, giving us their favorite memory of their mothers. Here are the responses.
My mom is an encourager. Our family could not afford to pay for a college education for my sister and me but, as we went through school, Mom told us that, if we would do our best, there would be a way for us to get a college education -- which we did with scholarships. My mom was a substitute teacher affectionately called "Granny Ware." I have heard her encourage students along the way, especially those who needed a kind word. My mom always enjoyed gardening, and I have picked up that interest as well. Not being able to work outside now, she raised tomato and sweet potato plants in our sunroom for me to use in our garden this year. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
- Sarah Ware
My mother is my rock. No matter the need, she is always there and willing to help. She will drop anything she has going on in her life to help others. Sometimes I think I was switched at birth because I'm so high-strung and confrontational at times. How could I come from this precious woman.
- Jennifer Catlett
When I was a little girl attending a family member's wedding in the '90s, my mom hugged a very skinny young man that I did not know. She later told me that the man was HIV-positive and it was important to hug him because there were a lot of people in the world that were afraid to touch people with HIV. It was an immensely important lesson: Always pay attention to those less fortunate, to the outcasts and to the ones who need love. She has one of the biggest hearts of any person I know.
- Cara Weiner
Saying words like love, sacrifice, hard-working, determined, dependable, independent, inspiring, responsible, dedicated, supportive, strong and faithful are honorable, but having a mother that demonstrated all these characteristics is priceless. Our mother is living proof that a single mother can raise four successful and productive children. Our mother worked up to three jobs at a time to provide for her family. There are so many memories, but the one that really stands out is when she would attend all her children's and grandchildren's events. If we were involved, she was there, cheering us on. Especially sporting events. Sometimes we thought she was a coach. We love you, Momma. Happy Mother's Day from Eric, Tim, Sabrina and Chandra.
- Chandra McFarland
Although it has been over 40 years, I still fondly recall my mother's "happy face cheese toast." When I missed school due to an illness, I could always count on the standard chicken soup but with a side order of her specialty. It was a simple offering of eyes and a smile cut out of processed cheese, toasted on a piece of white bread, but to me it symbolized her love and encouragement. When she presented me with the smiling toast, I grinned back and felt better instantly. Throughout her lifetime, we talked and laughed many times about the magic healing toast. Since she passed away four years ago, her small act of making smiling cheese toast has become a cherished memory of her love.
- Gloria Hastings
In 1981, my mom was battling cancer. She spent her life devoted to her family, forgoing personal comforts so her five children were presentable. Her youngest child, being autistic, needed her availability 24/7. I was back home for a short visit in 1981 when I suddenly realized that Mom had not been to a movie in over 20 years. I took her to see "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Mom's mouth dropped with awe in unison with the Ark's lid slamming back down upon it. She whispered, "That was great!" About a year later, on my Dad's birthday, she lost her fight with cancer. I focus on the good times, but I do miss you, Mom.
- Dean Yankauskas
Solveig S. Johnson
It is difficult to recall just one favorite memory as my mom is such an amazing lady. She is so much fun to be around and has a love for the Lord that is contagious. One memory that I cherish happened on the first warm day of spring when I was 13 years old. As my alarm rang for school, she surprised me by coming into my room and saying, "No school for you today! We are going to the beach!" We spent a beautiful day together in the sun. At the time, we lived only an hour away from the beach, so this started a new tradition that we kept every year until I left for college. I will never forget those fun days.
- Valerie Raley
One of my favorite mom memories is taking her to her first University of Tennessee football game. We have been raised orange and white, so it was so cool to shop at the Bookstore, watch the Vol Walk and cheer for our favorite football team together. My Mom and my Dad have been such supportive parents, and I know that I would not be as successful as I am today without their guidance, support and unconditional love.
- Jill McBrayar
One of my favorite memories with Mom is when we used to watch "Melrose Place" together. She would come to my apartment, and we would giggle and feign shock at the silly dramas that unfolded. One season near Valentine's Day, there was to be a wedding. We got a bottle of sparkling cider and some heart-shaped Little Debbie cakes, got out the crystal and were set to "join" the reception. Surprisingly, the wedding didn't happen. I turned to her, stunned, and dramatically said, "Oh no, what will we do with all this cake?" She took a piece, raised her glass and said, "No sense wasting a party." She's an amazing woman with a great sense of humor, I am so proud she's my mom.
- Sarah Rowe
To try to think of a favorite memory of my Mom is difficult because there are so many, but to sum it up, she is the most kindhearted, compassionate person I know. Her love for family and others is evident every single day. I can't remember a day when she wasn't there with a wonderful home-cooked meal for us, but then she would often make several more plates to carry to "shut-ins" who were sick or just because she thought of them. That example caused all of us kids to always be thinking of how we can help others. And she helps care for her 100-year-old mother, and the love and patience she shows to Gran is a beautiful sight.
- Linda Moore
Mom, you have taught us so much through the years. To be hard-working, trustworthy and to love God with all your heart. No matter what comes into your life, you taught us to be strong while going through cancer. You inspired so many people. This will be our first Mother's Day without you. Happy Mother's Day. We love you and miss you each and every day.
- Darlene Pardue and Jerry Cook
My mother always taught us to be honest and have good, moral character. She wasn't the greatest cook, but I miss the way she would spend hours preparing meals. But my best memory of her is the quiet dignity with which she fought cancer. It robbed her of her physical beauty but never took her spirit. This is my 33rd Mother's Day without her, and it still hurts like it is the first.
- Pat Finnegan
Carolyn H. Grider
The biggest thing my mom ever surprised me with was my current car. She, my Dad and I looked for several weeks, trying to find the perfect car for me -- but no luck. Finally, one day before I was to leave for vacation, I spotted my car and showed it to her. However, that day just happened to be a Sunday, and I was to leave bright and early the next morning. Friday evening came, and I arrived home, and there it was, the exact car I'd spotted, sitting right in my parking space at our house. You talk about being surprised. You bet I was. I was so surprised I was in tears.
- Wendy Grider
I have so many wonderful memories of my mom from my childhood, but one of my favorite memories is more recent. I have so enjoyed having my mom come into my classroom and teach my students about different topics. She has taught them about dental hygiene (being a former dental hygienist), fun facts about the United States (having traveled to all 50 states), going on field trips (she loves new experiences) and even writing books for me and having my students illustrate them. I love you, Marmie.
- Brooke Snyder
My mother has lived at her residence in Slygo Valley, just north of Trenton, for 64 years. On April 18, my mother had her 87th birthday. My mother has raised six children, five of whom are still living. My brother, in his early 40s, became ill with cancer in 1991. It only took seven months for this disease to ravage his body and take him. I watched as my mother cared for him to his death. I don't know how any parent gets through the loss of a child, no matter the age of that child. I know my mother loved him very much. Only three short years later, in 1994, my Daddy's cancer returned, and she cared for him until his death.
- Jan Manley
Annie Mae Bray
We took short and long road trips. We frequented yard sales because it gave her the opportunity to find treasures and share treasures from the Bible. We traveled out of state to visit loved ones. Several summers we traveled to Mississippi to bond with her grandson, who lived the farthest away. We had long mother-daughter talks along the way. I called them "lessons in life." One summer we traveled to Ohio to visit my younger brother. We were out shopping at a large department store, one of mother's favorite pastimes, and she reprimanded me for following her around like a child. I had unconsciously taken on the role of a protective mother as I lovingly watched her shopping experience.
- Fartema Fagin
My brother and I love to tease our mom; we blamed her for any bad weather on vacations, made her watch "Gilligan's Island," which she can't stand, and because she hates lizards, we buy her lizard items as gifts. But the best memories are of going with her to visit people, my great-grandmother, my great-great-aunt and "Aunt" Mary, whom we weren't related to at all, among others. "Best," even though it was somewhat painful as a kid to go to visit "old people," where there was nothing to entertain or amuse us, but "best" because I realize how wonderful my mother was, always doing things for others. And at age 85, she still visits and does things for her friends young and old.
- Joy Scruggs
As a child, I used to thank God every day for picking Joanna Golden to be my mother. I still do. I knew then, as I know now, that I am the luckiest person alive to call her "Mom." She raised three daughters all on her own, selflessly and without resentment or complaint. She worked hard day and night to provide for her family, as she still does to this day. She kept our bellies full, her bed warm and her hugs abundant. What we lacked in money, she made up for in love. She is our fierce protector and our champion. She loved us when we were unlovable, and she always put us first. She is the model of what a great mother is.
- Brittany Golden
There is not just one memory that is my favorite. My mom is my best friend, and we share so many great memories together. She is my role model, and I hope to one day be like her. Not only is she a great mom, she's also a successful businesswoman. We have been through so much together, and I look forward to all the other memories we have ahead of us. Love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day.
- Jessica Ingle
The one thing that stands out in my mind besides her unconditional love for me was the day my son and I took my mom to get a tattoo. At age 53, she had seen my recent one, and she really wanted one, too. Of course, it was one of those times that sticks in my head because we laughed so much that day. She was my best friend as well as my mom. She went to heaven a few short years later. I love and miss her every day.
- Jene Smith Coffman
She not only was the best mother, but she was also the best friend, teacher, daughter and sister. I am an only child and, until I was 32, it was her and me. She called me her "Little Treasure." When I was a little girl, we would go to Chattanooga and watch a couple of movies on a Saturday. ... When my mother got sick, I had the privilege of taking care of her. I didn't always look at it that way and I'm sure she would sense my frustrations, yet she never said anything. I lost my mother this past October, and I miss her deeply every day. I learned so much from a woman who was a selfless giver.
- Alison Taylor
Mother's Day 1972, I returned home from active duty and surprised my mom at church that morning. Just walked in during the opening hymn and asked if I could sit next to her.
- Jon McKenzie
Betty Sivley was a housewife, the mother of eight children. Like many mothers in the 1950s and '60s, my mother planned a weekly menu and went grocery shopping every Friday. And every Friday was Burger Night. Nothing fancy: burgers, chips, baked beans and -- only on Friday -- sodas to drink. In later years, she added cheese, crackers and a veggie platter to hold us over until the burgers were ready. Mama's burgers became known as "Betty Burgers." Throughout life's changes, Burger Night was a constant. No invitation needed; family, friends, all were welcome. Our family came together on those nights. Friends tell me how they enjoyed the warm welcome on their visits. My daughters have wonderful memories of Burger Nights spent playing with cousins in their Grandma's backyard. Betty Burgers were the best, so was my mother.
- Ginger Smith