Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
That phrase will be said millions of times today in the U.S. as sons and daughters thank their mothers for lifetimes of love, help and support. And in those years, moms have built up a lot of memories, some funny, some sad, some that warm the heart.
The Times Free Press asked mothers to send in their favorite memories of being a mom, a moment when their pride at being a mother swelled to almost bursting. Here are their responses.
Recently, we went on a trip and were gone almost three weeks. My oldest son was to pick us up at the airport when we returned. When we arrived at the airport, there was not just one son, but all three were there to welcome us home. I had really missed them, but did not know they had missed me in spite of their busy lives.
<p style="text-align:right;">Martha Dyer Kaiser,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Chattanooga</p>Our freshman daughter, Melissa, invited me to her sorority's Mother-Daughter Day at the University of Tennessee. Mothers had flown in from all over the country to be introduced to the sorority sisters and their moms. These women held very impressive and influential careers, a CFO, bank president, judge, business entrepreneur, etc. Toward the end of the recognitions, it was Melissa's turn to introduce her mother. She stood and very proudly stated, "This is my mother, Terry. She stays home and takes care of my four younger brothers." I had never been so honored to be a mother. I was the richest woman in the room that day. My career as a full-time mother had been validated by one of the most important people in my world. Melissa is currently utilizing her master's degree by being a stay-at-home mother who home schools her own three young children.
<p style="text-align:right;">Terry Matthews,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Chattanooga</p>The first time it really hit me that I was a mother was the third day in the hospital after giving birth to my oldest son, Hunter. I had been so busy with nurses, doctors, secretaries, family and insurance companies, I didn't really have time to think about it. I was so caught up on the legal end and making sure everything was taken care of, I hadn't thought about my precious newborn baby actually being here. It was my first Mother's Day as a new mom with a 3-day-old baby when we had a moment all to ourselves. He yawned and wrapped his tiny little hand around my finger. Tears of joy flowed from my eyes. In that short bonding moment, I realized that I had just experienced the absolute most amazing thing in the world: I had experienced unconditional love. He created motherhood for me. Eight years later, he is still and will always be my baby.
<p style="text-align:right;">Ashley Swafford,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Chattanooga</p>My son gave me beautiful cards, each one treasured and tucked away, but the ones I treasure the most were written by his own little hand. When he was about 8, we came in from an evening out and on an old typewriter a crooked note said, "Dear Johnny & Bobby, I love you very much, I don't know what I would do without you. Your son Robert." When he was 11, a note said, "Dear Mother, This is all I had to give you, go out and buy whatever you can. I hope you enjoy it. Love, Your son, Robert." Tucked in the note was his allowance, a dollar. The note and dollar are framed, sitting on my dresser.
<p style="text-align:right;">Johnny Hickey,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Red Bank</p>I have a sweet mom story, I guess it's really a sweet family story, but I was so proud to be a mom and a wife with this one. When my son Teddy started preschool, his teacher was going through the usual questions: address, phone, etc. She asked him what his Dad's name was and he said, same as his, Teddy, which was correct. She then asked him was his mother's name was. Since my husband had always called me "Honey," he promptly told the teacher that his mom's name was Honey. Although 26 now, with a son of his own, he's still my sweet little boy and I'm still Honey.
<p style="text-align:right;">Marilyn Engel,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Dayton, Tenn.</p>Jessica graduated with honors at age 17 and decided to attend a college in North Carolina. We were a bit put off by her choice -- she was so young! -- and North Carolina was far away. But she won out and, on the day she was to depart, we (bravely) took her to the airport to start her new life as a young adult. At the end of a long hallway, we kissed her goodbye, she slung her backpack over her shoulders, and off she went. I was quaking and tearful; my "baby" was on her way. I watched her disappear into the crowded corridor -- and she never once looked back. I knew then I had entered a new phase of motherhood called "Let her fly." She is a mother herself now, very happily married, has a professional career, and we are proud of her and how our years of care paid off.
<p style="text-align:right;">Sally Hendrick,</p><p style="text-align:right;"> Pikeville, Tenn.</p>As my mind travels through the years, I'm reminded how my young son would always want me to pay him for the little things I asked him to do around the house -- taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn. By coincidence, I came across a gospel record by Shirley Caesar titled "No Charge." I purchased it, came home and played it a few times. Hearing the words from this song, my son did his chores and never asked me for pay again. As the years went by, my heart would beam as he told me how I got my point across and he understood the cost of real love is no charge.
<p style="text-align:right;">Johnnie M. Johnson Smith,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Chattanooga</p>Fresh from the womb, I examined the wrinkly hands of my newborn daughter with an endless surge of love pouring out of my heart. This must be what God's love is like for me. I didn't know I had it in me to love so deeply. Another transcendent experience awaited me when daughter No. 2 was born. Apprehensive that my love supply might run out, the exact opposite overwhelmed every fiber of my being. The love I had for my second took nothing away from my first. Birthing two more babies became profound places of divine appointments, transforming me in ways I never imagined. Thirty-one years later, I now experience this transcendent love through my three grandchildren. What joy I have watching my daughters as mothers. The divine stream of love continues.
<p style="text-align:right;">Judy Herman,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Flintstone, Ga.</p>The time was March of 1993. The place was Parris Island, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Beaufort, S.C. I was standing in the parents waiting area with all the other anxious parents. Then we saw them, marching towards us in perfect formation. I spotted my 23-year-old son, Darren, and the tears rolled. He had become a man, a military man, a defender of our country. How proud I was of his decision to volunteer for the Marine Corps and be eager to defend our great flag. The graduation ceremony was the next day and to see all the graduating young men, including my son, was the day I was truly a mother, a mother of a Marine. Semper Fi!
<p style="text-align:right;">Joanne Leach,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Rossville, Ga. </p>In 1954, I married a man who had a 7-year-old son, Dennis Allison. I really did not know all a "mom" had to do. Through the years, we both learned how to love, share, care, instruct and follow rules; everything growing up requires. Then along came Kathy Allison, my oldest daughter. Time turned back to taking care of a beautiful baby girl. This was different from a 7-year-old, so "we" took care and raised her for four years. Thank God for that second little bundle we named Stephania; she really taught us the "life." I could not only not get out of her sight, I had to be in her hearing distance, so I sang from morning till night. All three are very dear to me and, at age 88, they make me feel much younger and care for me like a baby.
<p style="text-align:right;">June Allison,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Soddy-Daisy</p>When you are a kid, you never realize that your Mom makes many sacrifices for you. You know she loves you. You know she gives hugs, encouragement and food every day. You get that jacket everybody wants, that you have to have. If you run out of tea, she gives it to you and doesn't save any for herself. That is a Mom. God programmed her to like this. Mom does this not because she has to but because she wants to. I had three children. One evening we had chicken for supper. We had excellent pieces but two thighs. I don't like thighs. I was first to choose a piece. I chose a thigh. I realized: "I am a real Mom." I chose to do this not because I had to but because I wanted to.
<p style="text-align:right;">Linda Fortner,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Lookout Valley</p>My most favorite and precious memory was on Oct. 3, 1988, when my newborn daughter Amanda was placed in my arms. My husband and I had tried to have children for many years. We chose the route of adoption, which took a couple of years. Mid-September 1988, we were notified that a birth mother had chosen us, but we did not know the sex of the child until she was born on Sept. 30. We drove to Nashville to pick up our daughter and, when she was placed in my arms, I knew it was meant to be and I truly was a Mother then.
<p style="text-align:right;">Karen West,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Cleveland, Tenn.</p>June 29, 1967, was the greatest day of my life for I gave birth to my son, Richard Walter Pickett. He has made my life great. He is so good to me, always looking out for me, and just being around him is the greatest joy a mother can feel. He has a family of his own now, and he is not just a great son but a great husband and father. He has his own company, and I am so proud of all that he has accomplished and the kind of young, Christian man he is. Growing up we had no problems with him. He is so thoughtful to others and has a heart of gold; when someone needs something, he will be there to lend a helping hand. I wish all sons could be as good and kind and thoughtful as he is, then moms would not have to worry so much. It thrills my heart when he says "Mom"; that is the sweetest word ever to my ears
<p style="text-align:right;">Kay Pickett,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Hixson</p>We were not able to have our own biological children. But by faith I started a nursery, adding a little at a time. After being married 14 years and praying for all of those years, we finally got "the call" that there was a baby boy for us. We were thrilled. In April of 1992 we got this precious bundle from the Lord. Holding him in my arms was the moment that I finally felt like I was a mother. He sure has made life fun and interesting. No more sad tears on Mother's Day. We have been told that he looks like us. Psalm 113:9: "He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord."
<p style="text-align:right;">Chris Porter,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Hixson</p>I have so many memories of my three children, two girls and one boy, but the one that really stands out in my mind is when they were very young. In the evening they would go into their room and start to play with their dolls, G.I. Joes and stuffed animals. They would start to talk nonstop and their sweet little voices were just darling. They talked for hours and then it would get quiet. I would check on them and they had fallen asleep in bed among the dolls, G.I. Joes, stuffed toys, books and crayons. Just to hear them talk with their sweet little voices -- priceless.
<p style="text-align:right;">Betty Palmer,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Chattanooga</p>As a mother I realized that you love your kids at all times and will always put their needs above yours. You will never stop worrying about them, and you have to do lots of praying when they are far away from you or right down the street. You will love to see them smile and be proud of their accomplishments. As a mother, I take lots of pictures and cherish the memories for the time goes so fast. Thank God each day for the time you had with them and pray that when they are parenting that they learn from your mistakes. My favorite memory of being a mother is when we are all together laughing and talking and sharing great times. I am a blessed mother-stepmother to the best kids in the world -- Kendra, Kara, Justin, Anthony and Jax. I love you all.
<p style="text-align:right;">Gina Friddell Brown,</p><p style="text-align:right;">Harrison</p>