Be polite. Say please and thank you.
Eat your vegetables. Drink your milk.
Do your homework.
We all learned many lessons from our mothers. If your mother is still alive, celebrate with her on Mother’s Day and tell her thank you for being such a good teacher. If your mother is no longer alive, remember her with a grateful heart and share the lessons you learned from her with your own children and grandchildren.
One of the very special lessons that my mother, who died in 2006, taught my brothers and me was the importance of learning and education.
Margaret Jackson Hart, the next to the youngest of nine children, grew up on a farm in West Texas. She was the first in the family to finish high school and the only one to finish college. It was an amazing accomplishment during the Great Depression.
Since her local school went through only the eighth grade, she was supposed to ride the bus to Westbrook High School. But, because of the financial strains of the Great Depression, the bus stopped running before her final year of high school. Fortunately, she was able to move to Crane, Texas, and live with her sister Lizzie and Lizzie’s husband, J.L., while finishing her final year of school.
In 1932, she finished the 11th grade, which back then was the final grade of high school, and graduated second in her class. As class salutatorian, she was entitled to free tuition at any state college. Her parents had no money to help her go to college, and, without the free tuition, she would not have been able to continue her education.
Margaret, who always had known she wanted to be a teacher, decided to go to North Texas State Teacher’s College, which later became the University of North Texas, in Denton. There she lived with her aunt, Rachel Blackwell, who charged her $15 a month for rent, board and laundry. Her sisters Lizzie and Lela helped her pay the $15. She walked to school, and her aunt made her a lunch so that she wouldn’t have to spend any money for food.
Margaret went to school in Denton for two years and then started teaching. At that time, Texas schools allowed students to teach after two years of college and to complete their degree while they worked.
She took night-school classes and correspondence courses and attended summer classes at McMurry College in Abilene, Texas. In 1939, she graduated from McMurry, a feat that made her whole family extremely proud. Whenever anybody in the family had a question, her brother Ted would always say: “Ask Margaret. She went to college.”
Today I am extremely grateful that I had a mother who read to me and who shared her love of learning with me. Thank you very much, mother.