By RENEE FITE
Mothers give life, help their children discover joys in life, and offer life lessons.
A mother’s job is so much more than to feed and clothe her children, and provide them with a warm home. Her higher calling is to teach her offspring how to thrive and succeed as adults, how to love and be loved.
One of seven sisters, Mae Cunningham grew up singing in church with her siblings.
“Music was always in our home; we’d race home after school to see who got the piano first,” Cunningham said. “We were spoiled. Mom cooked a whole lot and she worked hard and lived to be 97. She was quiet, with a sharp sense of humor.”
Her walk with the Lord is what Cunningham most appreciates about her mom.
“We would stay up and talk for hours about that,” she said. “She had such pride in us.”
When Cunningham and her husband, Don, became parents, everything centered on her children.
“Being a mom was my life; it still is,” she said. “My son, Dan, was the football star; Lou Ann was a soloist, and Holly [Stocks] always accompanied her. Holly and I worked with children’s choirs in Vian and Sallisaw.”
She and Don enjoyed watching them perform and Mae never misses any time there’s a performance, now including the grandchildren.
“We’re pretty close,” Cunningham said, “I appreciate that they like each other, too.”
Daughter Holly said her mom really enjoys living in the same community as her kids, has enjoyed watching them grow up, and loves being able to go to their performances.
“From seeing my mom be a mother to my siblings and me, I learned the importance of approaching things with love and laughter,” she said. “Something I treasure is that we always had music in our home. And mom’s homemade peach cobbler was my favorite.”
Holly appreciates the time her mother took to teach her children about the Bible.
”She had me memorize scripture when I was little that I have never forgotten,” said Holly. “I practiced memorizing the books of the Bible anytime we were on vacation. I appreciate that she works hard and she loves God, and she has a great sense of humor. My mother worked very hard so we all had time to practice our music, perform for our community, and do the things we love to do.”
Mae and Holly’s granddaughters and daughters admire their matriarchs.
Jenna said her mom, Holly, is her best friend.
“I can always go to her with anything that is happening in my life and she will give me the best advice. She loves me unconditionally,” Jenna said. “Grandma is an incredible cook.”
Both mom and grandmother are musical, love to sing, and are very supportive, Jenna said.
“They got me and my sisters started in all facets of the arts at an early age,” said Jenna. “I appreciate my mom driving me to all those lessons for dance and violin all of the years of my life. She has really invested in my talents and abilities and it has helped me to become who I am today.”
Molly said her mom’s the sweetest, funniest person she knows, and encourages their artistic interests. She also praised her grandmother’s cooking.
“My mom has always supported everything I have always wanted to do, like dance and cello,” said Molly. “She wants me to be happy and do the things I love. Mom has always encouraged me to be the best I can be. She always shows me how to be kind to others, and how to be a loving person and I really love that about her.”
Haley’s favorite thing about her mom is how she is able to find joy and happiness in any situation, no matter how difficult or challenging it may be.
“She always knows how to smile,” Haley said.
Her grandma and mom are alike in their dedication to church, family, and music, she said.
“They show me their Christian walk in their prioritization to love others and always have a moment to lend an ear,” said Haley. “They have worked so hard and sacrificed much to help my dreams become a reality. Without this, I would not have had the life I have lived, and I don’t think I could ever show enough gratitude or love for that.”
A poll on Facebook asked people what they appreciate about their mothers.
Lee Ann Latimer Langston appreciates the lessons her mom taught through examples.
“No preaching, no lectures,” said Langston. “Her lessons were subtle, teaching us to live our lives for others, to be compassionate, and kind.”
The invaluable life lesson of respecting others is taught by word and deed.
Karen Coody Cooper said her mother felt the sting of discrimination when she went from a country school to a town school.
“My brother and I learned never to discriminate, especially regarding the poor and downtrodden, and we followed that philosophy all our lives,” Cooper said. “And that included never succumbing to gossip and rumors, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.”
The love of learning is a lifelong gift mothers can bestow on their children. Maealla Bruner took son, Larry Bruner, with her to the university while she attended classes.
“She did all this while working full-time; what an inspiring woman,” Bruner said. “I obtained my degree because of her example.”
Most moms show their love by making, doing, baking, and serving in many capacities.
Bryn Smith’s mom made cookies and served them with milk in the afternoons when she got home from school.
“I’ll never forget it; I love that memory,” said Smith. “And I totally appreciate that she always read to us nearly every day. That piqued my interests in writing and reading to this very day.”
Veronica Gaston appreciates her mother for allowing her freedom.
“My mother let me run wild all over 260 acres with a Shetland stud pony and a BB gun at age 8 and never gave it a second thought,” said Gaston. “He’s the only horse that’s ever thrown me, and was the cause of my first ER visit. But there have been bigger ones that tried. I didn’t shoot my eye out because I was taught young how to handle firearms. Growing up on the farm was an awesome experience. And despite how many times I’m sure they told me not to do it, I still had to climb that windmill.”
Mothers help children entertain themselves and teach them to be a gracious hosts.
Liz Ray’s mom could have folks over after church on Sunday nights without knowing beforehand, or she could host 50-60 of the Martin-Howard clan with style and grace on Thanksgiving Day.
“There were many Christmases where we would have 25 spending the night, many on Baptist ‘pallets,’ because no one wanted to miss a minute of the fun,” Ray said. “I’m so thankful for that God-fearing woman whom I was blessed to call mom.”
To make a better home, some mothers sacrifice, work extra jobs or go the extra mile for their children, also teaching them a good work ethic. Maria LeDoux’s mom, Lucie Le-Doux, used to make egg rolls on Sundays and sell them to the Dutch women in Holland.
“She did this every Sunday to help raise extra money, so that we could immigrate to America, said LeDoux. “I so appreciate all the sacrifices this sweet lady made for her five kids.”
Holland is a cold country, and her mom would knit wool undergarments to keep them warm.
“She washed all our clothes by hand. [We had] no refrigerator, [which] meant she cooked every meal from scratch,” LeDoux said.
Their home was heated with coal and her mom had to go out in freezing weather and gather the coal from the shed.
“When you ask if it was all worth it, she will tell you a definite yes,” LeDoux said. “She sacrificed many comforts in her life to give us a fighting chance. I can’t tell you enough how much she means to me and how it breaks my heart to see her grow old alone; my dad died young.”
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