By Cathy Bender
I was elated when my “Bonus Mother”, Rosetta Miller Perry asked me to share some words about my mother Odelia Bender as we celebrate Mothers all over the world. Although, Mothers come in all sizes, shapes, colors, degrees of education and life experiences, they still manage to fill a unique space in the lives of their children. With 8 children, Mom has managed to find a special place in her heart for each one of us.
As I reflect on my Mother, my mind immediately runs back to my child hood. My parents agreed that the greatest contribution Mom could make to our family was in raising responsible children. You will never hear me say that my mother never worked because her commitment to being a good mother was a full time job. Imagine getting 7 children off to school each morning with only one bathroom and still cooking individual breakfast for each of us. Although quiet in spirit, Mom always commanded respect and demonstrated a
strong work ethic. Dad always worked hard to provide for the family but, as CFO of our family, I was always amazed at how Mom managed to stretch a dollar. Much of our food was raised in the garden and she would often put food up for the winter. Mom was teaching us the importance of planning for the future. Many times, she would share food with the neighbors and as a little girl, I often wondered why we were giving food away with so many mouths to feed. Once again, there was a lesson, she was teaching us to love our neighbors and to be cheerful in our giving.
As children, we often take our parents for granted. I was older when I realized that Mom had made many personal sacrifices so that we could have. With 6 girls, she actually taught herself to sew in order for us to have new clothes like the majority children that we went to school with. I was the first to attend college on an athletic scholarship to Vanderbilt University. We were raised in such a loving environment where we had everything that we needed and most of what we wanted. When I arrived on campus and saw how much other students had, I was blown away. One of my greatest memories is calling my Mom in tears, I told her that she never told me that I was poor. It was in that moment that I realized how fortunate I was to have her as my mother. Always calming, Mom replied, “Cathy, with all of the people who love, support and believe in you, you are probably one of the richest people at Vanderbilt!”
I have always been proud of my Mother but, since my Dad passed away almost 15 years ago she has demonstrated another level of strength and courage. She is indeed the Matriarch of our family. Her quiet voice is now a bit louder and more urgent. Mom celebrated 82 years of life this month and more than ever she stresses the importance of family, forgiveness and charity. We are truly Blessed and forever grateful that God chose to loan this beautiful woman of faith to us.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom! My Best Friend, My Confidant, My Heart!
Love You for Eternity