1 Dokazahn

Sister Rose The Ring Essay Contest House

The 2017 Central PA Writing Contest announced its winners earlier this year at a York College event. Two winners were selected from qualifying entries consisting of original, unpublished work.

First place went to Elizabeth Burns for her work "Perfect Present." 

The runner-up prize went to Abbie James for her work "Salt & Pepper." 

Central PA Writing Contest Winner:

Perfect Present

by Elizabeth Burns

I drive home from my parents' house this afternoon under a cloudless sky.  Today, I count exactly seven kitschy lawn ornaments between Ackermans Lane and Saucon Valley Road, finish singing two refrains of Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone just as I realize I left my sweater on the sofa.  I debate whether to go back.  I find myself in a state of suspension.  Singing the Dylan song takes me back twenty years when I studied in Florence for a semester.  I remember listening to it on my headphones, sitting in the Piazza di Santa Croce, recklessly devouring Belgium chocolates as I watched tourists gather.  "How does it feel?  To be on your own, no direction home," Dylan's voice sang in my ears, words from a song already thirty years old.  I did this instead of studying the Botticelli and Caravaggio paintings at the Uffizi.  Despite living in the Renaissance capital of the world as a twenty-year old, I somehow longed for elsewhere.  I somehow desired another time.

Stop.  Return to being present.  This is my focus lately, the business of living in the moment.  After all, that is what they all say.  All those theys who surely lead more fulfilling lives.  This edict hangs in the forefront of my thoughts, "be present."  But the Dylan song turns me twenty years back.  Back to mistakes, back to regrets, back to fuzzy Florentine memories.

Between contemplating whether to turn around for the forgotten sweater and the Florence flashback, I end up at my parents' house again.  My subconscious must have decided that being less than five minutes from home justified the return.  I chat briefly with my mom.  I tell her how much I enjoyed her concert the night before, the Bernstein piece in particular.  She, as she always does, escorts me back out to the driveway.  And, as she always does, tells me to drive carefully.  Her right eyebrow flattens, the left one curves like a question mark.  Her words "drive carefully" are always so heavy, shrouded with an anxious agony.

I repeat the drive down Limeport Pike, pondering, once again, time.  I think about Dan's trick, turning the alarm clock around on our nightstand to face the wall.  He believes it staves off the desire to check the time throughout the night should he wake up.  I find those digits provoking, casting little fiery red marks, tallying the number of minutes I have been awake or the tasks I better not forget to complete the next day, onto a sleepless wall.  I wake and imagine what time it might be rather than roll over feeling at peace with the present.

Present.  Am I present?  Is one so very present, one does not recall the last twenty minutes of the drive?  I wonder, is it necessary to be completely present even while driving between an August Saturday at 3:00 and an August Saturday at 5:00, transporting the sweater, the car, myself to Lancaster?  Could this not just be an intermission, a suspension, between two acts?  Must I really focus on this moment?  And now this one?  The sticky, dusty coffee stain in the cup holder that I keep meaning to clean, the tasteless bumper stickers of passing cars, the compression of the gas peddle under my flip-flopped foot?  Would that really make my life fuller, the business of complete awareness of the present, even the very mundane now?

Now it is 11:55 am on December 11, 1965.  Susan is driving her sister Joan to the jewelry store where she works in Huntingdon.  The store sells fine china, elegant watches, and diamond engagement rings.  Joan enjoys the simplicity of helping someone find the perfect present.

Susan will soon come around a curve on Warm Springs Road.  An unlicensed driver of a stolen 1964 Chevrolet will strike their car.  Joan will be thrown from the passenger's seat, hit the dash, and be catapulted through the windshield and onto the cold concrete.  She will not recall the moments before, during, or after the tragedy.  She will be told later about thefarmer who wrapped a blanket around her to keep her arms from flailing.

Joan will wake in a dim hospital room, her nose filled with splints, unable to smell the antiseptic, the Clorox, the coffee in the corridor.  Drifting in and out of consciousness, she will hear a muddled voice behind the thin cotton curtain.  Someone praying?  Crying? 

Headaches, the clock ticking, and three separate roommates will keep Joan company during her seven-week recovery in the hospital.  To distract her from the tug of her stitches healing and her sore muscles getting sorer, Joan will reflect back.  As her broken body will settle into the springs and padding of her hospital bed, her mind will sink into the cushy memories of a simpler time.  Joan was the Huntingdon High School Prom Queen, sang in the choir, played in the marching band, and spent weekends laughing over milkshakes with her pals at Grubb's Diner.  She had recently dropped out of West Chester University where she was studying music.  She will think about why she left college.  Her thoughts will project forward.  What next?  Should she go back to college and complete her degree?  Could she?

With special permission, Joan's mother and daddy will bring a small Christmas tree into her room.  Joan will recuperate in the hospital for seven weeks.  She will count exactly seventy-eight rings on her construction paper chain.  One red, one green, one red, one green.  Counting.  Seven weeks, twenty-eight stitches, three reconstructive surgeries, seventy-eight paper rings.

78.  No, I am not on I-78 anymore.  My Florence regrets, the coffee stain, mom's concert last night, the humidity on my skin, every one of these thoughts and sensations together - they stack inside my head like blankets on a bed.  Or, no, spin.  Spinning together like a hundred threads of a single fabric, might all these memories and sensations existing together, the very stuff I am stitched of, embody living in the present?  Might I spend the bulk of my time knitting nostalgia, now, and next year together and maybe the fringe on the fabric actually living it?  And, is it not true that memory is a mechanism, a way to protect us from repeating mistakes and prevent future accidents?

Accident.  I am stopped on 222, the first car in a long line behind a crash that occurred just minutes ago.

My heart hammers.  My gaze, my thoughts, my entire being is directed onto another's extremely unfortunate present.  Her car is flipped over on its top.  I smell rubber and gasoline.  No, I actually taste rubber and gasoline.  The ambulance lights seem to throb in synchronicity with my blood pressure.  Shaken, I remind myself to breathe as I watch the paramedics cut through steel and remove the body.  I have to look beyond the mess, above it, around it, anywhere but at it.  I watch the smoke curl up and gather under the graffiti-covered overpass.  I manage to hold myself together during the fifty-two minute detour under an unreal ultramarine sky, reminding me that it is early August, and I am still alive, still taking breaths in and out, still young.

So young, she is twenty-one, but the newspaper article about her accident will read she is twenty-two.  She will not have the courage to face a mirror for seven more weeks.  She will forever remember the crash as the incident that did not cut her life short, but rather broke her life into two distinct parts.  Two acts separated by one terribly painful intermission, a troubling state of suspension.  She will spend much of the second act recalling, reliving, and relishing the first.  She will frequently, each day recovering in the hospital and days and years thereafter, turn around and retrieve memories from the before in an effort to cushion the after.

I arrive home after 5:30.  Afraid and undamaged, I cling tightly to Dan, his thin tee shirt absorbing my tears.  As I recuperate in his arms, I do not recall the last hour, what happened last night, or contemplate the time I surely squandered twenty years ago.  I am absolutely unaware of the minutes passing or the hours to come.  But before I can completely be right here, right now, in the kitchen's comfort and out of my car - in this perfect present - I turn back to a time that was not even my own.  I go back to a time when a milkshake costed ten cents, Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone was number two on the top forty pop chart, and my mom was twenty-one.  I am sitting in the backseat of a Ford Galaxy on a dismal December morning, desperately wishing I could hear my mom turn to my aunt and say, "turn around, I forgot my sweater."

About the Author 

Elizabeth Burns is the first-place winner of the 2017 Central PA Magazine Writing Contest.

Elizabeth Burns is a writer, artist, and teacher.  Her poems and short stories respond to physical and spiritual worlds, experience, or memory.  Her art blends visual and tactile elements with words and sentence fragments.  Liz earned her Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Millersville University and her Masters of Humanities from Penn State University. She completed three teacher residencies at Fallingwater in Bear Run, Pennsylvania, where she composed a collection of ekphrastic poems inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece and the paintings and sculptures in and around the house.  She teaches art in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband, Dan, and daughter, Rose.

Central PA Writing Contest Runner-up:

Salt & Pepper

by Abbie James

Chicken between my teeth makes that sticky clicking sound when I chew--and now I hear that in my knees when I go upstairs, each step like glue attaching and releasing. My wife glides silently like a silk scarf falling off a mannequin in the twilight hours before stores open, when people aren't bustling about. I'd hoped for more years of quiet.

My old man said his joints seized up because of injuries playing football with friends, dreaming of playing college ball, and because of a lifetime of putting his knees and elbows to the cold cement floors of buildings to paint the lowest spots. He told my daughters just before he died, still able to raise his warped arm slightly when he wanted to say something of importance, that he had so many white hairs because of paint splatters that fell when others were painting above him--that if they wanted to keep their dark hair, they needed to do something more with their lives than idly play sports and paint.

 "You work smarter to get ahead," he'd said.

I was never brave enough to wear a football jersey, and I'd spent my career in an ergonomically correct leather chair on wheels. Now, I fear I am listening to my body follow the same path, soon to be restrained in the shackles of my own helplessness.

My daughter sees me staring into the hall mirror on her way out the door to one of her final high school track practices. She smirks and turns around, the same look on her face when she'd caught me pausing before the boxes of hair dye at the grocery store a few days earlier.

"You're not old, Daddy. Here, try this on those silver stripes," she says, rummaging through her backpack and then handing me the permanent marker she keeps to label the tags of all her uniforms.

"This marker is navy blue, not black," I reply, shaking my head. "It's ok. I know I'm not old." I smile and tell her a meteor was about to crash to the ground but that just a few feet above my head, it burned up into ash, those fragments of outer space landing in my hair.

"How come it disappeared instead of knocking you out?" she jokes, as she swings open the door.

"Just luck...that's all," I say, knowing she's already three feet out the door. "That's all any of this is."

Her older sister is preparing to interview at only small law firms outside a calculated radius from mine; she emphasizes every chance she gets that she doesn't want special connections to sway anyone. At my first job interview so long ago, a man greeted me, his black shoes so glossy that in them I could see the reflection of his outstretched pale hand.

"Lee Samuelson. Now...is your father Gary Samuelson?" he asked, looking through my papers.

"Yes sir, he is."

"Ah, what a turkey." He chuckled heartily. "Salt of the Earth," he said, emphasizing each word, before getting back to his queries for me.

I knew that it wasn't my newly acquired degrees in the same shiny plastic frames as everyone else's or anything I'd said, other than confirming, "he is," that landed me that job. It was a huge firm, so I only saw the man two or three times in the elevator or hall before he soon retired. I never felt comfortable asking him how he knew my father, and my old man denied knowing him. I tried to thank my father for somehow polishing my status before anyone knew me, but he waved his hand and turned his head away with a terse chuckle, refusing to accept the credit.  I'd give anything to show him now that even without playing football and painting high-rises--one of the only honest jobs available to him during those times--body-betrayal was inevitable. He'd done everything right.    

My wife opens the kitchen door into the hall and stops abruptly.

"You're still standing there? In that time I already have two dozen cupcakes baked for Sara's last team picnic. I'm going to smash up that mirror into tiny shards and spread them in my flowerbeds. I hear the remnants of vanity are especially beneficial for roses," she says with that sly grin I can't live without.

"I'm just contemplative," I retort. "Besides, you love baking. You wouldn't have to do it. I'd write a check to the chicest bakery in town. "

I pull her to my side and kiss the top of her head; my elbow cracks to highlight the first movement, and my neck audibly punctuates the second. I notice some specks of white against her shadowy hair. She takes her turn with the mirror and notices, too. She flips her hair in smooth silence. Her white spots are just flour; they brush right off. 

About the Author 

Abigail James is the runner-up in the 2017 Central PA Magazine Writing Contest.

Abigail (Abbie) James is a Licensed Behavior Specialist with 12 years' experience working with children on the autism spectrum at Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. She has a B.A. in Human Development and Family Science from Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and an M.A . in Human Sciences from Hood College in Frederick, MD. Her book Autism and Appropriate Touch: A Photocopiable Resource for Helping Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum Understand the Complexities of Physical Interaction was published in 2015.

Abbie is inspired daily by her husband, Eric, and two children. She enjoys attempting to garden all year, playing the piano with mediocrity, trying a variety of creative endeavors, advocating for social justice, and overanalyzing virtually everything. 

The 2017 Central PA Writing Contest is a partnership of WITF and PA Media Group and with additional support from York College of Pennsylvania. Central PA magazine is published by PA Media Group.

Published in Central PA Magazine

Tagged under central pa magazine, writing contest

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We challenged you to come up with your best tribute to Mom in our All About My Mother creative writing contest. The prize is a bouquet of flowers sent to a loved one of your choice. 

We Learn So Much From Each Other

Your participation exceeded our expectations and your submissions were a wonderful collage of storytelling about the loving relationships we all share with the people who raised us. Thank you all for offering your personal and heart-felt stories about “What Mom Means to You.” We will be posting one new winner each day through the month of May, so check back tomorrow for the latest winner. All winners have  previously been contacted by email to claim their prize and winning submissions are posted in no particular order. Thank you again for your inspiring and diverse stories about Mom.

Winner #26

To say my mom means the world to me is an understatement. Without “preaching” she modeled the finest qualities a woman could possess. She taught me faith in God, compassion, independence, confidence, integrity, perseverance and unconditional love. During our Sunday family dinners after church, we would all share stories of the week while enjoying Mom’s home cooking. She exemplified a true Southern lady because, not only was the food delicious, but there was always more than enough to feed everyone. Another cherished memory of my childhood was getting off of the school bus, racing into the house for an after school snack and discovering a new handmade dress for my Barbie doll. I still treasure a pink one trimmed with rick-rack. What a precious memory to me.

For more years than she would want me to reveal, she was a beautician, and her beauty shop was connected to our house. When we got home from elementary school, Mom would let my brother and me go into the beauty shop, and while she worked, we would tell her about our day at school. We love it, and honestly, her customers didn’t seem to mind. I think we were free entertainment! In her mid teens, she won a beauty contest, but a head-on car crash in early 1959 left her with many scars from many surgeries. However, in my mind, these scars did not mar her physical or inner beauty. A scar from her bottom right chin diagonally up across her mouth to the bottom left corner of her nose made her smile that much more endearing. A crushed and ultimately missing kneecap altered her gait a bit, but she remained a very active mom and grandmother.

After she was diagnosed with dementia, she moved in with me. At night I would tuck her in bed. One night in particular, as I was tucking her in, she started babbling, saying nonsensical syllables. She stopped abruptly, looked at me directly in the eyes, and my sweet tea drinking little Southern Baptist mother exclaimed, “I’m not drunk. I’m just nuts!” We both burst into laughter that filled every corner of the room. On one of my recent visits to the nursing home where she resides, she summed up our relationship so succinctly when I said to her, “I love you, Mama.”, she responded with “I love you all the time.”

Winner #25

As I walked into the hallmark store, I realized that this would be the first Mother’s Day that would occur that I will not have my Mom with me physically but spiritually. She passed in January 2015 of a cardiac event after 22 months in a skilled care facility due to dementia. My father passed in 2010 so her dependency grew as her needs increased. As a nurse I felt comfortable in this role but I never realized the role as daughter and caretaker would take a priority. I would visit her 2-3 times a week and on weekends we would go out for lunch. My Mom looked forward to my visits and excursions where we would enjoy time talking and being together. She told everyone she was in good hands that I was a nurse.

She was so proud that I was a nurse.

Each night when I arrived she had her PJ’s layer out and she would wash up and get ready for bed. I would help her but she insisted to being as independent as possible. She often asked ” did you ever think that you would need to care for your Mom like this? I assured her that it was not a problem and think of all the things she helped me with over my lifetime. She always said thank you and as I left gave a hug and she would say  ” Good night, I love you.”

It has now been three months since her passing and I miss those moments that made us so close.

How precious are those moments that we shared as her dementia increased, her love for me and her family remained.

The brain is a complex organ but the personal touch of the human spirit remained.

I was there in the early morning and as I leaned over her to give her a kiss, she took her last breath. She was finally at peace both physically and spiritually.

The journey was long and at times she struggled and so did I but in the end the memories of her gentle smile, caring hand and words “I love you” will remain forever in my heart.

What a blessing it was to thank the woman that gave you life. Mom, I miss you

Love, Michele

~Michelle Mayes

Winner #24

What my mother means to me……… Two weeks ago I was in my quilt studio power sewing my way through a dust ruffle to match the quilt I had made my 3-year old granddaughter. With that finished, I turned to another ‘waiting list’ project of making curtains for my daughter’s classroom. She is a lively, inspiring, second grade teacher and her classroom is peppered with frogs. An entire bolt of frogs had been patiently waiting on the cutting table to be turned into new curtains to replace the old, tired, faded ones she had made with my mother one summer years ago. As I serged and sewed at full speed through 12 yards of fabric I thought of all the hours and hours of pleasure sewing has given me through the years and immediately thought of mother. I wondered if she had any idea of how much I treasure the gift she has given me. As her mother taught her, my mother taught me everything she knew about needles and thread and what they could create. She was my inspiration, my teacher, my cheerleader (and a big contributor to my ‘fabric stash’).

Alzheimer’s has claimed her memories. She no longer remembers how to sew or that she has a daughter. Her world gets smaller every day and will eventually disappear. But with every stitch I sew she lives on in everything I make……my first blue ribbon quilt, quilts and clothes for my children and their children, nieces and nephews. These memories, like my mother and grandmother’s quilts, aren’t going away any time soon. Threads bind me to the past and my present to the future. That’s what my mother means to me.

Winner #23

When I was a small girl, around seven or eight, I had a passion for making “plaster of paris” models…cottages, ashtrays, little dogs etc etc. When it was time for our annual Church bazaar, I made about a dozen little cottages, painted and glazed them carefully, and gave them to Mrs. Kelly to put on the handicrafts table. As the afternoon progressed, I kept a careful eye on them, to see how well they were selling. I confidently expected there to be a high demand for them, but sadly that did not seem to be the case. Mrs Kelly did her best to display them to their best advantage, but to no avail….there they sat, and sat !! Finally I found my Mom, and tearfully confided that no one seemed to want my cottages. Some time later, I passed by again, and to my amazement, there was one cottage left !! Mrs Kelly said she just had to hold on to that one for herself, as there had been such a mad rush on the others. I was ecstatic, my somewhat shaken belief in my artistic ability fully restored !!

Fast forward nearly sixty years. My Mom passed away at aged 89, after a life well and gracefully lived. My sister and I were sorting through a lifetime of memories, when, at the bottom of her closet, wrapped in tissue paper, in a box,we found eleven little “plaster of paris” cottages, and a little note ”made by my daughter, Barbara,age 7”

~Barbara Cundari

Winner #22











Winner #21

Mom Song Redux

Rose colored,

like your mother:

eyes, teeth, skin,


backyard flowers.

each day more and more

and more

the same.

~Meghan Misted

Winner #20

Rapunzel would be jealous;

The way the sun hits long waves

Tresses of brown hair,

Only puppy fur holds that sheen,

Rippling forever,

Her prominent sleek nose like Samantha Stevens,

sitting with her at the dinner table,

We’d duck when she turned,

Giggling with our cleverness,

In return her smile could catch a butterfly,

Nary a weakness, perhaps mildly gritty; street smarts,

Independence that’d naturally warrant a sky

Filled with flowering explosives,

Only veterans of love or war could compete,

If lucky- you’d catch her attention.

Her power more shapely than her hips,

Leaning towards the oven, wafts of her loyalty filling the air

Like a fresh baked golden loaf,

Birthed and swaddled in a checkered red and white dish towel,

Her complacency lures you,

Classy and old fashioned, like a 60’s flight attendant,

Metal tongs dropping ice into gin, neat

Her voice, an invitation discovered in your mail box,

Spritely, proper, with a regal

Imprint of hot red sealing wax,

As if red lips had just pulled away from envelopes edge,

Secrecy her greatest virtue, tied with her looks;

The beaten, the timid

The dark skinned, the hopeful,

a model to behold,

She was the front of the line;

Mother was anything but nurturing

But she was everything.

~Lisa Behrens

Winner #19

My Mom Still Remembers Me
by Tracee Randall

My Mom still remembers me. For that I am grateful. When you’re growing up and watch your Mom get everything done, run the household, sometimes working two extra jobs to make sure you have it as good as the other girls, you never imagine that the time would come that she no longer recognizes you. I remember late nights when we made “diet” coke floats for dinner. It was “diet” everything (as if that was going to make it healthy!)– diet coke, low-fat ice cream, cool whip lite, and a cherry on top. We would make them and then sit on the couch in the living room, cuddled up together watching movies! It’s the benefit of a single mom– more like best friends than mother and daughter. Other nights it was cornbread and milk– she would make it in a heavy cast iron pan and take it out of the oven piping hot. We would crumble it into the bottom of a glass, add skim milk and there was nothing better! Most of the time we had no extra money and her friend who was a flight attendant would bring us big bags of hand-me-downs— there was nothing more exciting than digging through the treasures praying one or two outfits would fit! My Mom–she did the best she could. I wasn’t the easiest teenager in the world. I was strong willed and sassy–she was full of life and fun and beautiful. She snorted when she laughed, and she laughed a lot! She ALWAYS told me how smart I was. Whatever I wanted to do she encouraged me to follow my dreams. She told me I was a great writer, a talented actress, the smartest one in the class, a fabulous artist. She bragged on me relentlessly. When I succeeded she smiled knowingly, and encouraged me to be better. If I failed she was my biggest fan.

Now….I am all grown up with sons of my own, and three amazing GrandBabies. I think back to the days when my Mom was my biggest cheerleader….and what it meant to have her stir the God-given talents within me. She made me believe that anything I wanted to do I would be the best! She repeats herself a lot these days. She can’t remember if she told me the latest gossip or not. She tells the same story over and over again. Most days she doesn’t have any idea what day of the week it is–or the plans for the day or what we did together. I called her last week (she lives about 500 miles away now) and told her that I was being published in a best-selling book series and she immediately said, “I knew you would be a great writer someday! I am so proud of you!” I knew she was smiling on the other end of the phone. My Mom still remembers me. For that I am very grateful.

Winner #18

April 27, 2015

To Honor my mother Eloise Ward is a blessing to me. She gave so much to me and my sisters and brother. When I reflect on my upbringing my mother was really “Old School” she taught me to be a lady and showed us how a lady should act in public and how to treat her family. If we saw someone who wasn’t as fortunate as we were she would say “that’s still somebody’s child”. My mother was and still is a funny person who always had a come-back line that kept us laughing. For instance if she wanted us to be quiet she would say “I want you to be quiet like a church mouse”.

To me growing up my mother was a large and tall lady, but now she’s small a frail. She still has a sense of humor even though she has Alzheimer’s disease, we still laugh together, and she tells me that I look like her daughter. She is still a graceful lady even though she can’t but her outfits together anymore, she wants to look good when she goes out, and please don’t forget her hat! Mother still loves to dance and sing, and when she hears her favorite song(s) I can see that our mother is still here with us.

Much Love for Mother, Ida Preston

Winner #17

Just for You — a Mother’s Day Poem by Rebecca J. Huseby, 2011

In quiet moments you’ll hear her prayer
In memory, see her standing there
With shafts of sunlight in her hair
Praying — just for you In quiet pools you’ll see her eyes
The light that age could not disguise
Gleaming on as time goes by
Watching — just for you In quiet hours you’ll hear your name
Her gentle voice, a sweet refrain
A melody so sweet and plain
Singing — just for you
In quiet shadows on bended knee
Talking to heaven patiently
Time after time alone was she
Wishing — just for you
In quiet thought you’ll feel her there
A memory in a rocking chair
And on her cheek a crystal tear
Waiting — just for you So take the moment while you may
Go to her — go today
Give your heart, your love away
Like she has — just for you!

Winner #16

My Mother Who on this earth wants to know all the little things about my day? Who on this earth feels true joy in each tiny matter that goes my way and sorrow in those that don’t? Who can I share every step of my life with and know it will not bore her? I’ll give you a clue — She is part of me, She can feel my feelings sometimes, even when I don’t realize I feel them myself. I can see little bits of her when I look in the mirror. But she is not me. She is more like a special soul that God sent to know and love me like no one else can. I don’t know how she does it, but it seems natural for her. She understands me in ways the world does not. She forgets herself at my benefit. She is my mother. I want her to know I love and appreciate her. I want her to know that I would be lonely without her. Just having her in my life helps me to feel more complete. And I know this feeling will continue as long as I live, no matter whether she is still on this earth or in Heaven. ~Jennifer Maroney

Winner #15

My mom turns 93 on Mother’s Day weekend and continues to amaze me yet today! Mom became a mom during WWII when her first of three sons were born. Her husband was military and they moved from one military base to the next every three months. She knew little about being a mom in those days. The one thing she did know was that you enjoyed the life you were blessed with. They didn’t have housing so a room to rent was often the best they could do. She washed dishes, clothes and diapers in the only sink available and hung them to dry right there in the room. They had a hot plate to cook on and life was good! Her boys were the ages of three, two and six months when the word came that her husband was killed.

Like so many other wives and mothers of the era she persevered. She found a job and found a way to raise her three boys! She remarried when they were teenagers and I am one of two girls now hers. I never thought about how loved I was, but I lived like I was loved. I climbed trees with abandon, rode bikes with freedom, played, and laughed and sang all because, like most kids, I had a mom who loved me always. My mom is quiet and most times when there is a group gathered together you won’t see her or hear her because she just sits back and is available. Available to give you a smile or a hug or a lap for a little one to snuggle into, to read a book to you or sing you a song or just be with you to keep you company.

None of these things make my mom too different that most other moms. But when I look at my mom I admire her. She just keeps going when the going gets tough as the saying goes. She lost not only her husband in WWII but her brother also. She has lost two of her sons way too young. A mother shouldn’t have to bury her child but twice is oh so very hard. She is gentle and loving, kind and generous, steadfast and loyal, sweet and caring.

She is older now and recently fought breast cancer. She would love to hold the great grandchildren on her lap, but her arms are not strong enough to contain their wiggles. She loves to read but her eyesight is fast deteriorating. She has macular degeneration, and her world is going black. Her cancer is back now and all over her body. She has her spa treatments every third Tuesday (chemo) and still she doesn’t complain. At night when she and my dad say goodnight, they giggle, because life is meant to live and enjoy. My mom is amazing not because she has done great feats but because she finds love in everyday and has raised the next generation to do the same.

Winner #14

Steel Magnolia
Always looking forward to a better tomorrow,
We’d take “one day at a time”- her motto.
“I was always a fighter,” she exclaimed
With resolute persistence untamed
A steel magnolia was placed in my care
But a fragile life I handled with prayer
When for the final blow she stepped into the ring
And lights went out on remembering.
Her raising children and happier times,
Those soft lullabies and little nursery rhymes,
First love, marriage and their home so dear;
All the precious memories became unclear.
Escaped were recollections she couldn’t tell,
Of the tenacious woman she knew so well.
Now fading away like beloved pictures stored
Were the most valuable treasures adored.
While our beloved Mother knew not our names
In her endeavors we find no shame.
Cause a battle for dignity became her plight;
For independence she fought a good fight.

In loving memory of Dolores M. Moore “Always a Fighter” 1929 -2004 By Gaye Moore

Winner #13

I did not have a mother in the usual sense. My mom was my grandmother, Beulah. In the Bible, we find a description of “Beulahland.” It means beautiful and that she was! After raising my dad and his four siblings, she had to start all over with me at age 50+. “Mamaw” was a whirlwind in the house. Except for meals and her daily concession to TV to watch a 30-minute soap opera, she never sat down. She cooked three meals a day. She washed and dried clothes, vacuumed, dusted, she was everywhere, all the time. She was an accomplished seamstress and made most of my clothes. I was always well dressed because of her talent. One day when I got home from school, I found her in my bedroom, on a ladder, hanging wallpaper! It was a beautiful pattern. She had been to “town” that day and found it. She thought that I would like it. So, she set to work on it. The only disappointment to her was that she didn’t have it completed before I got home! I was a lucky kid. I had Mamaw for 38 years. I remember thinking during her funeral that I wasn’t yet old enough to be without a mom. She meant everything to me. Just so you won’t think she was perfect, I’ll admit we had a few arguments through the years, especially when I was a teenager. After all, parents of teenagers are just, well, stupid. They don’t understand anything. As I grew older, though, my grandmother became a much wiser woman! Truly, you can’t appreciate a mom until you are grown.

Winner #12

My mom is 93 years old and has dementia. She was one of the best mothers you can have. She was very pretty and a very happy person. She is still a very happy, loving and giving person. The most unselfish person I have ever known. She was always doing things for people and even though she did not have much was always helping others out. I remember she always liked having not only us but all her family around her. She made my 3 sisters and my life so special growing up we did not have much money but you would never know it. For Christmas she would make cloths for our dolls, give us community gifts, which meant we had to share our outfits, we did not mind, thank God we were about the same size. She was a petite person so we also wore her things. We lived in NY in an apartment and she took us to Central Park to the swings almost everyday in the summer, ice skating in the winter, the zoo, Radio City Music hall, the beach on the subway, the movies and we walked everywhere. She made our holidays very memorable and to this day we are always getting together. She is a special person to a lot of people. When we started having children she was a big part of their lives and they all love her very much and come to visit or take care of her when they can. She doesn’t remember much anymore but we remember all the things she did for all of us. She is living at home with me and hope she will be able to until she leaves us. We love her.

~Norma Petrole

Winner #11

My mother, has went from taking care of me when I was young; to allowing me to take care of her when my step-father passed; to now taking care of me while I fight a chronic pain diseases. She is my nurse, secretary, medical recorder, medication organizer, and full time caregiver. Beyond these roles; she is my cheerleader and the one who tries to make people: family, friends,and strangers understand invisible illnesses. That even though I look like a tired 50 year old; my body has worked against me to the point that my memory and cognitive function has major gaps. My joints, muscles, and nerves are all fighting against me under an outward appearance that says all is okay. My mother helps me in private to prepare for my day. She drives me where I need to go and keeps a calendar of my appointments. On days I feel better she tries to get me to go to for lunch, to the movies, to see family and she helps me play with my grandchildren. She started out as my mother and has become my friend who allows me to have my dignity as my world slips away. She has strength in body, mind, and spirit for both of us.

Winner #10

My Wonderful Mom

There are so many things I admire about my Mother. She truly has a beautiful spirit, ready to give until it hurts, many times neglecting her own needs for the good of others. No matter how much pain is thrust upon her, she continues to go on. She refuses to let life’s sorrows make her bitter. Gentle and kind hearted, but a tower of strength. Holding onto a bright and gentle manner takes many more times strength than becoming angry and vengeful over life’s difficulties. I always remember Mom working hard, reading and learning new ways to do things. It’s funny how small incidents stick in your mind forever. I recall her laughing out loud while reading No Time for Sergeants. I thought it was great that Mom could get such joy out of reading. She was definitely ahead of her time. She did Organic Gardening before it became the “in” thing for the ecology. And her wonderful gardens! I know I never seemed interested, but I was in awe of what she could do with a piece of land. Mom’s creativity never failed to surprise me. From making doll beds out of orange crates to making elegant dresses for my proms, she always found a way for me to have nice things, even when money was tight. I can’t forget her famous bunny drawing and her showing me how to draw a realistic tree. I guess that was the beginning of my Art career. Mom’s accomplishments are too numerous to mention. I just want her to know that I love and admire her. In so many ways she touched my life, giving me a love of nature, and a need to keep learning and creating. She is truly an inspiration, and I thank God for giving me such a wonderful Mother.

Your loving daughter, Cheryl

Winner #9

Humbly I Pray Lonely I lie as softly I cry, weak with my helplessness…tired from the try, Anxiously I wait… yet humbly I pray for the once ago life filled with yesterday. This is today I keep saying but seeing today I am old, the mere shell of a being, Cast aside and forgotten, my life near its end…yet though I am old I still beg time to spend. Quietly I lie as softly I sigh, waiting and listening as time passes by, The doubts and fears confusing my mind, waiting on death… what end will I find? Now looking back it seems hard to believe how time rushed me by too fast to conceive, Life! What a joy, what a blessing to hold, yet only for others…I know I am old. Trembling I lie as softly I hear the steps of someone seeming so near, A cool gentle hand lays soft on my cheek, kind whispers of caring…the sound so sweet. Since comforted I’ve lain awaiting tomorrows, knowing true joy instead of my sorrows, Because I now know in the touch of my friend that I will have love and care ’til the end. Blessed I now lie as softly I cry, the tears this time for another, not I, Father, bless this gentle hand so sweet that now daily caresses my waiting cheek.

~Linda P. Blevins

Winner #8

My mother was the heart of our home, but I didn’t always know that, especially when I was young. As the only girl among three brothers, I was “my daddy’s darling” and he surely thought “I was sweet.” He indulged me in ways Mother didn’t, and so I doted on him. Mother never showed resentment of my preference for Dad, knowing how my childish devotion pleased him.

By the time I reached my mid-teens, however, I had grown to appreciate my mother much more. She and I easily became friends as my need for parental oversight diminished, and we enjoyed doing things together—shopping, visiting friends, cooking and sewing. One of the traits I cherished most about my mother was the joy she found in her children. I remember when a woman we knew showed up at a social affair wearing a diamond necklace and earrings, in addition to her large diamond ring, Mother commented to a friend, “My children are my diamonds.” And we children always knew if one of us was coming or going from home, Mother would be standing in the front door or on the porch to welcome us or wave goodbye.

As I grew and matured, I truly came to realize that Mother was the hub around which our family revolved. She kept in touch with each child, wherever we were, and kept each of us informed about the happenings in our siblings’ lives as well as in hers and Dad’s. One day when I was spending the weekend with Mother and Dad at their place on the river. I sat down beside Mother on the couch, put my arm around her and asked, “What is one special thing I could do for you? I would like to give you a special gift that would always be a reminder to you of my love.” Mother took my hand and said, “I can’t think of anything I want that I don’t have. I know you love me, and if I ever need you, all I have to do is call.”

Some weeks later, Mother told me that she and Dad were going to the river that weekend so he could work on his daddy’s old cotton house. She said, “I don’t know what he’s going to use it for, but it gives him something to do and a reason to get up in the morning.” That prompted me to ask, “What about you, Momma? What sort of unfulfilled dreams or wishes do you have?” She said, “I can’t think of anything. You children are all grown and healthy and you all know the Lord. I feel like my work is finished.”

That very weekend, on a gloriously beautiful Saturday in April, as Mother helped Dad lift a board in the old cotton house, she had a massive heart attack and died. It’s now been twenty-four years since that April day, and I still miss her and want to call and talk with my mother.

– J. Norfleete Day

Winner #7

The #1 World’s Best Mom!!!
I am writing this short story to you because I want to Share my Gift that God has  given me. I know with out doubt my mom is really the best mother in the whole wide world, (even if I do not write well enough for her to win, she will always be a winner in my Heart.) There are no words to completely describe the Love I have for her…The Love We Share.

I have been locked up for several years and my mom has never left my side for one second. Even though she should have gave up on me a long time ago. Even when I got out of prison the first time, I treated her with so much disrespect and all she wanted was to do was spend Quality time with me. Mother and Son time. She tried to her best to keep me out of trouble, I just  would not listen. Due to  my drug habit, I was trying to avoid her because she did not approve or let me get high. By her having so much “FAITH” and “HOPE” in me, it rubbed off on me. She really does make me want to me be a better person.

She always puts everyone before herself not just her Family … everyone. She really and truly does have the biggest heart I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen her have only 20 dollars to her name at that time and we saw a homeless man looking in the trash can and my mom stopped and gave him her last $20.00. She chooses to help others before she helps herself. She always “Prays” and puts “GOD First”. I get at least 3 Love letters from my mom a week and half of them are about GOD and Plans for a Bright Future through the “Hope of GOD”. Everyone who knows her or reads my Love letters, tells me how lucky (“BLESSED”) I am to have her in my life, everyone. I have a 20 year sentence in prison and you know what is so crazy, just because GOD BLESSED me to be her son, I am the luckiest  (luck is not in my mom’s vocabulary) man in the world.  She constantly keeps me in good Spirits and I could not be more happier … “well, unless I was Home with her”.

I know if you could just hang out with her one day, you would not even be having this contest, because she would win. Not only is she the world’s best mom, she’s the world’s best person. My mom is such a great person, 500 words does not even begin to express my Love for her. It Must be felt in the Heart. A lot of people have good mothers but none even come close to mine.  She should be recognized for all the good works she does, she is pretty much a saint, all she does is The LORD’S work.  Well, you was just introduced to My Gift from GOD and the world’s best Mother and her name is Becky Hoover.

– Michael Hoover

Winner #6

My mother is an angel. She works two jobs and crochets for everyone all year round. She is an amazing woman who I hope my two year old daughter will emulate. No matter what life deals her she always finds the good in it. Everyone calls her schleprock because she has a black cloud that always follows her. She is like the ever ready bunny she goes from sunup to sundown rarely ever taking time for herself. I never really appreciated everything she is until I had my own child and realize the sacrifices she made like icing cupcakes at 2 am for a school party or crocheting at 5 am to finish that last handmade present for Christmas. Never in 21 years have I ever heard her ask for anything. For her birthday each year she sends dunkin donuts gift cards to friends asking them to pay it forward for her birthday and in memory of my uncle whose birthday was the day before hers. She is a strong and loving woman and deserves so much more in life. She insists she has what is important and money can’t buy memories or love. I can’t even begin to explain how proud I am that she is my mother and how lucky I am. I only hope I can be half as good a parent as she has been. She is celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary the day after Mother’s Day so I would like to say happy anniversary and happy mothers day to a woman who I love dearly.

Winner #5

Strength through Love Hope through Love Courage through Love The most amazing mother I know Taught me this Now I am the one Holding her Wiping her tears Giving her Hope The bond of Love Moves on Strengthens Endures

– Kim Amelio

Winner #4

No mind to direct her on her journey Like a compass that has strayed from its magnetic force She pads around the kitchen, constant show tunes in her head Grasping for a morsel of familiarity. Happy faces she once adored, Are studied carefully Cautiously Weak and vulnerable As she trusts Holding on to childhood flashbacks Like trying to capture dust particles in her cold, bony hands And hoping, as she unclenches her fists, They are still there and still warm and fuzzy She giggles like a toddler, because she has lost her mind? No Because to cry like an adult is too painful Too many siblings, opportunities, loves, dreams, fantasies, desires Lost Morphing back to childhood to escape her broken soul Her world now is a self-contained vessel Fueled by thoughts of her past Her present is a stale laugh track and a blank stare at the television Her future measured in a pillbox A day at a time

– Margaret Crivilare

Winner #3

My mother was a very special woman. She was my confidant, my protector, my listening ear, and above all, my best friend. She passed away in 2013 from Alzheimer’s Disease. It was heart wrenching watching this beautiful lady slip away from us a little at a time. I especially remember the little things, like her awesome sweet tea with mint, that she would make us on those hot summer days, the laughter and good food we shared around her kitchen table — we would sit and just talk for hours sometimes! Watching her with my sons was a joy to behold, as she hugged them to pieces and loved them with all of her heart. She went to every one of their sporting events and school functions, and always had a kind word to share. She and I had a very special bond as mother and daughter that will never be broken, not even death can part our souls. Her memory lives on in the beautiful gifts she passed on to us, such as her musical ability, her artistic talent, and gift of communicating with others. Her generous heart and sweet spirit, her kindness shown towards others, as well as her radiant smile that always warmed your heart, will be missed everyday. What I wouldn’t give for one more day with mom! I know she is our guardian angel now, and is keeping us in her precious sight, loving and guiding us through our lives. I miss her every day, her gentle hugs and the sweetness of her voice, I think I miss the most. In this life we have many cousins, aunts, sisters, and even two Grandmothers–but only one mother. May God hold her in His precious arms, no more pain, no more tears. I am thankful for the wonderful and awesome gift that He bestowed upon me, in not just giving her to me as a mom, but also as a best friend.

Winner #2

My mother makes me feel like I could rule the world, if I wanted to that is. When I say I can’t, she stands in my way until I give in and say I can. My mother has never had an easy life. She has struggled for as long as I have known her, but she has never given up on her dreams. She won’t let me give up either. Imagine a bulldog with a bow on. Scared you may be, but the bow makes things better somehow. That is my mother. She won’t let me fail. She won’t let me doubt myself. She has always been one of my biggest supporters. Now, my mother has not always been around. For several years, I was in foster care because my mother could not take care of all five of us children. Even so, my mother never turned her back. She was always there, if not in presence, in heart. My mother is the epitome of standing in the face of obstacles. She wouldn’t give up on us. I will never give up on her. I love my mother.

– Sylvana Barfield

Winner #1

My Mother

Her hands were strong but gentle, They wiped away my tears. Her voice was calm and soothing Her laughter filled my ears. Her Face was kind and gentle A smile shown through her fear. She was a gift from God to me I learned a lot you see She wasn’t just my Mother She was my everything.

– Barbara Stenby


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