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.)
"And no matter who was receiving Mama's attention, including me, she'd always make you feel special, as if you were the only person in the world. To me, Mama was the true definition of a Proverbs 31 woman.
"Besides teaching it to us, Mama also taught Bible study to adults on Sunday mornings and really enjoyed it. We attended the First Baptist Church of Wilson, which is still a few blocks off of Main Street. And because we lived in downtown Wilson, we all walked together to church as a family. ...
"I can't remember a time when we sat down at a meal or went to bed without saying our prayers together as a family. Mama and Papa would read the Bible in the evenings. Papa would often explain its words to us, and then he'd play his fiddle and we'd sing favorite hymns and spiritual songs.
"My parents strongly believed in a Sabbath, which is a day of rest. Papa used to say, 'If God put it in the Ten Commandments, it must be important.' Mama said, 'If you sew on Sunday, you're going to have to take every one of those stitches out with your nose!' I talked to others in Wilson whose mothers said the same things.
"More than just a day to go to church, the Sabbath is a day to completely rest and rejuvenate from six days of hard and busy work. Whatever helps you to rest mind, body and spirit is what we would do on the Sabbath. Most of all, we would spend time with family and those we loved. How much better our world would be if we slowed down and still honored a Sabbath rest. ...
"My parents were genuinely good Christians -- the type who walked the walk and not just talked the talk. They didn't just ship us off to Sunday school to learn, but they first modeled the faith through their lives. Then they matched their verbal (biblical) message to us and others with their actions of love.
"Sunday mornings were actually quite busy for my parents, particularly Mama, who had to get not only herself ready for church but also all of us children. In addition, Mama was often cooking at the same time because Sunday's dinner meal was served about noon, which was when we got home from church.
"So Mama would wash up for church, prepare the meal, take off her apron, tuck her hair up, get us ready and then grab her Bible under her arm and walk us all off to church. Then she taught her adult Sunday school class on top of it all. She could tell amazing and inspiring stories and was never afraid to laugh. She did this same routine on Sundays for years. ...
"I think the lack of family, community and church life is at the core of what is ruining our nation, but it's also the key to our renewal. Just as my story begins with my family, America's renewal begins with overcoming the obstacles that divide and dissolve our homes."
That's the legacy that Granny handed down to Mom. And it's what my mom handed down to my brothers, Wieland and Aaron, and me. Theirs is the type of legacy I hope we all leave for our posterity.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom! You're still the "Chuck Norris" among all mothers! And to my wonderful wife, Gena, who is the greatest mother to our children, I love you!
(On Mother's Day weekend in 2012, my then 91-year-old mom was interviewed by our friend Mike Huckabee on his Fox News Channel show, "Huckabee." If you didn't catch it, you can still watch the interview on my official website, at http://chucknorris.com, the only place where you can order an autographed copy of my mother's autobiography, which makes a great Mother's Day gift. Of course, I'm a bit biased!)