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A mother's love: Celebrating moms on Mother's Day

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Olive Slye, 83, of Emily reflects last week on how much she is like her mother Esther Horsager. Slye reminiscences about her mother’s life in North Dakota and Verndale on the farm. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video2 / 2

Mom was right. Then again, Mother was always right even—she'd be the first to say—when her kids often believe she was wrong or just didn't understand.

Well, the joke's on them because more often than not, many of those former children now find themselves saying and doing things dear ol' Mom used to, much to their amazement or chagrin.

"I was blessed with a wonderful mom—just ask the kids in the neighborhood where I grew up. She was an excellent teacher, both in word and deed. One of the important truths she taught me was to be thankful—both to people and to God," Olive Slye said of her mother Esther Horsager.

As Americans celebrate Mother's Day on Sunday, May 13, moms from the Brainerd lakes area recall what made their moms great and what pearls of wisdom were passed on from them.

"When we received a gift, it didn't take long for Mother to say, 'You better write a thank-you note' and we did! It was so engraved in me that—at 83 years of age --I still must do it when I receive a gift," Slye said. "I insisted on our children doing the same thing, sometimes under protest."

Mother's Day

In 1914, Congress made the second Sunday in May Mother's Day after the holiday was such a success across the nation that Congress was asked to set aside a day to honor mothers.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the first Mother's Day was organized by Anna Jarvis on May 10, 1908, in Grafton, W. Va., and Philadelphia—seven years after Slye's mother was born.

Esther Horsager was born two days after Christmas in Thief River Falls and was raised in St. Hilaire in Pennington County. She died at the age of 86 shortly after Thanksgiving in 1987.

"I was the only girl in the family, so I had to help in the house with all the things there were to do, but she'd say to me, 'Now, we've got to wash dishes, and the floor has to be swept. Which do you want do?'" Slye said of her crafty mother.

"I knew I had to do one of them, but she didn't tell me which one to do. She used good psychology, I think."

About 33 percent of women who gave birth last year had a bachelor's degree or higher, and almost 87 percent had completed high school or higher according to the Census Bureau.

Rita Nelson was born in Opole in Stearns County and passed away at 77 years old from lung cancer—a week before her husband did in 2007. They were married for almost six decades.

"When talking about someone's spouse, she would say, 'Could have done worse,'" Rosanne Caughey said of her mother Rita. "When we were worried about something, Mom would say, 'Don't worry. It'll all come out in the wash.'"

Caughey, herself, has been married for four decades. The 61-year-old has four children and 10 grandchildren, but does not have as many siblings as Nelson had growing up.

"There were 15 kids in her family—and her dad lost the family farm in the Depression, and then they moved up here to South Brainerd. I don't remember what year that was, but she was probably just a small kid—maybe 6 or 7 at that time," Caughey said.

"And a prayer she taught me to say at bedtime was 'Jesus, I love you, Jesus, I do. Jesus, I place all my trust in you,' I teach that to my grandkids now."

A mother's love

For women ages 15 and over, 31 percent have no children, 16 percent had one child, 26 percent had two children, and 27 percent had three or more children according to the Census Bureau.

"My mom was a pretty amazing lady because she had eight kids. My mother lost her leg in a car accident New Year's Eve. They had a flat tire. She was standing by the trunk, holding the flashlight for my dad when somebody ran into them. I was only 3 years old then," Caughey said.

"She was 29 years old ... and married to a farmer, so just persevered and kept plugging along, so I learned from her to don't give up, keep going. No matter what God gives you, you've got to work with it. ... And after her accident, she had two more kids."

According to the Census Bureau, 22 percent of women in 2014 had their first child under the age of 20, 37 percent for ages 20-24, 24 percent for ages 25-29, 12 percent for ages 30-34, 4 percent for ages 35-39, and 1 percent for women ages 40 and over.

"My mother was a reader. She read and read and read. She taught us kids to love books and love reading. And I think all four of us kids love books." said Slye, an octogenarian from Emily.

"My mother used to come and spend the winter with us the last few years of her life, and she would read, and the kids would read. She taught our kids to read, that's for sure."

The National Retail Federation estimates American consumers will spend $23.1 billion celebrating Mother's Day and spend an average of $180 on their mom because of the holiday.

About 77 percent will give cards and 69 percent will give flowers to their mothers while 55 percent will take her out to dine this year, but more money will be spent on jewelry, about $4.6 billion, than any other category, according to the federation.

"I can't say enough good things about my mother. My mother loved people, and she taught us to love people—no matter who they were or what they had done—and we've tried to pass that on to our own kids, that everybody is important," said Slye, who has two sons and two girls.

"Everybody has some good qualities, probably everybody has some bad ones, too. But my mother used to impress upon us how important it was to be nice to people," Slye said.

"I was very blessed to have the mother I had. And I'm thankful for her."

Frank Lee

Voted most likely in high school ... "not to be voted most likely for anything," my irreverent humor (and blatant disregard for the Oxford comma) is only surpassed by a flair for producing online videos to accompany unbiased articles about Crow Wing County about, say, how your taxes are being spent, by your elected officials, on issues or topics that matter to YOU.

Writing local feature stories about interesting people in the community, however, and watching and discussing movies are among my passions. ... Follow me on Twitter at either of these accounts: @DispatchFL (for news) or @BDfilmforum (for movies).

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