It may be obvious, but we love our moms! And those of us who’ve lost our moms miss them terribly, especially on Mother’s Day. To honor all the special and incredibly giving moms out there, we recently launched our annual Girlfriend’s Mother’s Day Contest. We asked you to tell us about one moment in time when you could not have been more proud of your mom. (And it didn't have to be your mom; it could be any woman who is like a mom to you.)
Here are the winners:
First Place — Megan R.
One day my mom went to the mall. She took me and my five siblings with her. I had been to this mall many times before and I loved going but in my 10 years of living, I had never gone to the mall with just my mom; or my mom and my siblings. When we got to the mall, she told us we could have whatever we wanted to eat from the food court while she made some calls. This was unheard of in our large family! Whatever we wanted? For all of us? No sharing? After lunch she loaded us up into our huge passenger van and said we were going to visit our grandparents. What? Our grandparents were in Florida which was days away from Ohio! She also said that we could stop for cheese sticks and mini boxes of cereal on the way since we were going to drive “straight through”. She made it sound like the grandest adventure and we were pumped! After what felt like days, six less excited, dehydrated and completely-over-cheese-sticks kids piled out of our van and into our grandparents' double wide. We had made it! I peeked into my grandparents’ room. There, I saw my mom sobbing on her mom. I think I knew things weren’t right in our house. I think I knew the way my dad touched me wasn’t okay. I think I knew that most dads didn’t yell or hit me as much as my dad did. But I didn’t know for sure, until my mom took us to the mall that day. A small abnormal act that became the opening act of rebellion that gave her the courage to keep going. I’m forever grateful for her courage and for my grandparents who welcomed my huge, crazy family!
Second Place — Elizabeth Emrey
“You have to invite all the girls in your second-grade class to your birthday party, all 25!” my mother insisted.
Mom never wanted to exclude anyone. (Boys were naturally the exception!)
My mother, Virginia Mc Iver Emrey, was the daughter of the chauffeur of the lumber king William H. Talbot. She grew up in a cottage on the Mounds estate in San Mateo. This exclusive San Francisco Bay Area town had an ordinance, which the Talbots ignored, forbidding any Irish from spending the night within its precincts. In her eight years at her Hillsboro grammar school, mom was never welcomed into a single home of her wealthy classmates, even though she was elected eighth-grade class president.
I hesitated to ask my friends to come to our small, two-bedroom bungalow on the wrong side of the tracks in neighboring, blue-collar Burlingame. But a dozen girls responded to my invitation. Mom spread a paper birthday tablecloth on the picnic table we dragged from outside into our living room. She had bought a chocolate sheet cake with white frosting and bright red lettering reading, “Happy Birthday, Elizabeth,” which was topped off with tri-flavored Neapolitan ice cream cups with pull-off tops. There were party blowout noise makers which unfurled like screaming snakes as we blew through them into each other’s ears. The party ended with beans on bingo cards, and a raucous game of pin the tail on the donkey, each girl spinning around blindfolded, careening into one another.
After everyone left, I helped my exhausted mother vacuum up the debris. Suddenly our vacuum cut off as well as our lights. Mom just threw up her hands and said, “It was either your party or the electric bill. I chose your party.” Mom knew what mattered the most.
Third Place — Anna Palmer Darkes
My mom is a "behind the scenes" sort of person. At church, she likes working in the kitchen and snuggling the babies. She used to teach Sunday school. Before retiring, she held sensible jobs as a telephone operator, credit department clerical worker, law office receptionist, and file clerk. She's not exactly what you'd call a wild woman. So, it came as a surprise to many people when she decided to do a tandem skydive on her 60th birthday. She said it was something she had always wanted to do! My father and I were working that day, so she drove alone to the skydive center, agreed to be strapped to a certified skydiver, and jumped into legend, at least among those of us who know and love her. Thankfully, she got the photo and video package, so we all got to see the biggest smile on her face the whole time she was flying through the air. She loved everything about the experience, including — maybe especially — the fact that so many people were shocked at the news of her jump. Me? I might have been surprised that she wanted to skydive, but I was also incredibly proud. What a brave woman! But if I was proud then, wait for it … she repeated the adventure on her 70th birthday and just recently, on her 80th! She was more nervous when she learned I had alerted the media than she was about the prospect of hurtling through the air at 120 miles per hour from a height of over 13,000 feet. However, after the jump, her excitement shone in the video clip that made the local news. I could not be more proud, unless she does it again when she's 90!
On a beautiful, bright September day in 1961, my family was at the zoo where various loud sounds were common: birds chirping, monkeys chattering and lions roaring. We did not expect a horrifying scream from a man near the lion's cage with blood spurting from his arm! From the pooling of blood on the ground you might have suspected a shooting or stabbing. Who would have imagined he had put his arm inside the lion's cage?
While others stood in shocked silence unable to move, my mom took on the demeanor of a skilled surgeon going to work. Without hesitation she ran to him, tore open a large brown paper shopping bag and held it tightly against the mangled stub of the remaining arm. Then she wrapped it in a cloth securely. She desperately tried to stop the bleeding. She leaned into him with all her strength and determination despite his moans.
There she was — as brave as any warrior battling for his life. No fanfare, and no praise was expected.
By the time the ambulance arrived, blood had soaked my mother’s hair and clothing. It was likely unclear whether she was the victim. The medical staff assured mom that she saved his life. He certainly would have bled to death by the time they made their way to him. They asked how she managed to have the courage and wherewithal to save his life? She simply replied, ”Someone had to do something!"
Never was I more proud of my mother than when those trained professionals looked at my mom (who had no emergency training) in disbelief and amazement. My children and grandchildren need to know this about their grandmother and find their own strength to be “someone that does something” in their own lives.
I will try to use only 300 words, however, this woman goes far beyond that. I didn't grow up totally with my biological mother, so there was always a longing for that mother's love, teachings, etc. I love going to yard sales and on this one particular day I met this wonderful woman who has became my "Godmother." In 2017, my life changed drastically, I was hospitalized for over five months and was told I wasn't going to make it. But by the grace of God I did. In that process my bills didn't get paid and three weeks after coming home I lost everything. U.S. marshals literally put all that I had on the street. Still frail and now with nothing, Ma Amelia would come by where I was staying, bring food, (I couldn't eat regular food at that time), pray with me because I was really depressed, bought me clothes. Mind you now, she has her own life. She works, sews professionally but still took and takes time to see about me and my children. I have regained my mobility and can live alone now. I live off my disability and after paying bills at the end of the month I have nothing. She still makes sure I have what I need in my home — food, medication, etc. And last year she really went above and beyond for my birthday. She bought me a car, so I would have a way to get to my doctor's and physical therapy appointments. I am a witness. There are still angels around because she is truly an angel to me. And did I mention she is 75 years old? She goes to pantries and gets food to take to people she knows that need food, she takes people to appointments, and sometimes won't even take gas money. I so love this angel and really hope I am selected so I can give her something as she has given hope to me.
“Judy, are you sitting down? There’s been an accident. Michael. A crash. With a tractor trailer truck. Black ice. Instantaneous. Fatal. ”
The voice clicks in: It’s Steve, my fiance’s roommate.
“The funeral is graveside, here.”
What am I hearing?
“Judy, call your mother. Let me know your flight.”
Head spinning, I call my mother. It is January 2, 1966. I am 23.
My mother arrives within the hour. The phone rings again. It’s Lena, Michael’s mother.
“You are not welcome — don’t come to the funeral,” Lena shrieks. “This is your fault: He was driving back to school from your house. Stay away!”
She is right. Michael was driving back to Vermont from Manhattan with his friend Neil after we’d spent New Year’s Eve together. Neil was at the wheel of the tiny sports car when it was sideswiped by a truck. Michael, my love, my lover, my future.
Lena’s words echo: Your fault. Your house. Stay away.
Lena is a widow, Michael her firstborn. We are grieving the same man.
Watching and listening, my mother takes the phone.
“Lena, it’s Judy’s mother, Peggy. I’m so sorry for your loss.” She speaks softly. “We are coming to the funeral.” She places the phone in the cradle. “Judy, we’re flying to Burlington together.”
At the cemetery, as Michael is lowered into the ground and Lena howls, I sink into my mother.
For most of my life, my mother passively followed orders from her mother and her husband. She rarely stood up for herself, even when her husband was insulting or contemptuous. But in that devastating moment, when the mother of the man I loved forbade me from attending his funeral, my mother revealed a hidden strength I will never forget.