I know it's not Mother's Day, but I have a nomination for "Mother of the Year
" - my childhood neighbor, Mary. When Mary, her husband and their five boys moved in next door to my family, her home immediately became the gathering place for all 33 children who lived on our block. My mom worked all day and when she came home, she would often get drunk. I always felt good over at Mary's. She was a great cook and her home was always filled with the scent of freshly baked cookies and homemade fudge. There was never enough to eat at our house, because my mom would use the food money for booze, but I always knew there was something wonderful in the oven or on the table at Mary's home.
Mary treated my sisters and me like daughters. She sewed clothes for us, took us out with her boys on picnics or to the local pool in summer. She played games with us and helped us with our homework. Even after her husband died, she never lost her smile, her hearty laugh, and I never once heard her complain. She's 90 years young now, and still actively volunteers several days a week in the gift shop of a local hospital. I often think how different I might have turned out had it not been for Mary and her unconditional love.
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