A year ago, I wrote a two-part series titled "My Mom's Advice for America." There's no better time than now -- between my mother's 93rd birthday (May 4) and Mother's Day (May 11) -- to talk about her mother's advice, which my mother recorded in her autobiography, "Acts of Kindness: My Story."
Last week, I started by echoing what my mom said about my grandmother's family values. Both of their models still stand as beacons of light, pointing the way America and American families need to go.
Here's a little more from my mom's autobiography about Granny's sacrifices for family, work ethic, community involvement and faith in our rural hometown, Wilson, Oklahoma. Remember that this was during the early 1900s, with very few modern conveniences:
"Then there were all those baths Mama had to orchestrate -- the things we take for granted today. Something as simple as taking a shower or bath was a major undertaking in those days.
"Mama would heat up the water on our big old wood-burning stove and then place the water in a big galvanized tub in the kitchen. Because our kitchen was so small, the tub hung outside the door on the side of the house and had to be carried in each time someone needed a bath. It was nice to get in the bath first (before the other kids), because the water was not only warm but clean. You can imagine how it looked when giving multiple kids baths.
"Mama also made our clothing on one of those old pedal sewing machines. She made dresses out of printed flour sacks; she even dyed white ones to red. It would take two flour sacks to create a dress. She also used them to make pillowcases and dish towels. Mama also made quilts, tended a garden, cleaned others' houses, washed and ironed others' clothes for extra money, and even cut others' hair.
"Mama ran a tight ship at home; she had to with all of us young'uns running around. Most women with seven children wouldn't be expected to do anything more than parent those children. But Mama wore multiple hats, in and outside the home.
"She was available to be called on as a midwife; doctors always referred to her when someone was expecting. (Papa used to say that she delivered half the kids in town.)
"Mama was also a natural-born caregiver. So many times we awoke in the morning and Papa would tell us that Mama had been with someone sick in the community all night long. On those mornings, we would get ourselves ready for school, while Papa cooked our breakfast. (The older girls always helped Papa if Mama was out helping someone or sleeping because of doing so all night long.)