My Mother Said...And the Lessons I Learned

The stories in My Mother Said...And the Lessons I learned are told by daughters, sons, and even granddaughters and stand as salutes to the women who influenced their lives.

The idea for the book came from memories of my own mother, Anna Wilma Pope McDonald. A widow after just nine years of marriage, left with three children and no source of income, she sacrificed her own life to raise my sister, my brothe4r and me. We always knew that we came first, and the lessons I learned from her are ones that I have held onto and incorporated into my own role as a mother.

The stories told include one of three women from Minnesota, the grandmother now 103 and still active, her daughter who remains by her side, and her granddaughter who is grateful to have had her so long in her life. There is the former police chief of San Francisco, whose mother instilled in him respect for women, and the educator from Pennsylvania who had a bond so strong with his mother that he said she "wove his heart." Three sisters share the memories of their mother, an Olympic gymnast, whose records remained intact for almost 70 years, until they were beaten by Simone Biles in 2019. There is the story told by a daughter who has found herself as the caretaker of her mother who now struggles with a failing memory, one of a son, whose mother taught him to live his life with a tough skin, and one of a son, whose mother rose above her humble beginnings in a sharecropper family to become a respected leader in their community. There is the mother who supported her daughter as she pursued her dream of becoming a performer on the stage and of mothers and their adopted children.

Woven between the memories shared by others are mine of my mother. Throughout her 92 years on this Earth, she never lost sight of her respect for others, no matter their race, religion or political affiliation. She lived her life with a positive attitude, despite years of hardship, sadness with the death of her only son and then the loss of her home that she worked so hard to keep. The last ten years of her life were spent in a nursing home, but they were years when she never lost her positive view of life. She remains today, my hero, as do so many other mothers to those who tell their stories.

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