Posted by: Michelle UluOla | May 8, 2011

Amazing Women

During the recent, over-the-top, incessant coverage of William’s and Kate’s royal wedding, I listened as the media repeatedly gushed about the Queen Mother. Multiple reporters used the same line: “Queen Elizabeth is so amazing–at 85 years old, she still maintains a full schedule and works very hard.” Something about all that effusive praise bugged me. She’s had access to the finest educational opportunities and healthcare. This year,  British taxpayers will give her $23.3 million for performing 360 engagements as Head of State. In addition, her subjects will give her $60.5 million to maintain her palatial residences and vehicles, pay servants, entertain and keep herself in the grand style to which she’s accustomed. Those sums don’t include the additional income from her family’s investments–her personal worth is estimated at $500 million. While she’s no doubt an amazing woman, frankly, she has no excuse not to be. I found myself literally asking the TV, “Why is she considered anymore amazing than any other woman?”

What about the women dealing with earthquakes, tsunamis, radioactive fallout, tornadoes, floods, famine or war raging around them? Or single mothers working two jobs to feed, clothe and educate their children? Or married mothers who have to work outside the home, because the economy is so bad? Or even more challenging, what about the women who don’t have access to electricity and who still have to do laundry on the banks of the local river, plant and harvest their family’s food, tote water for drinking, cook meals over an open fire? Or the non-mothers who do volunteer work in their communities, nurturing the many in need? By “working hard,” I doubt the media meant that Queen Elizabeth vacuums Buckingham Palace or cleans the toilets. I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective and circumstances, but there are unsung women and mothers around the world who I think deserve the media’s praise much more…not to mention our gratitude for all they do for us.

As we here in the U.S. celebrate Mother’s Day, I’d like to acknowledge one particular mother who I consider truly amazing. She’s an 88-year-old widow who lives alone, stretching a social security check, still doing her own laundry, cleaning, cooking…and baking, most of which she gives away. Granted, she has health challenges, and she’s the first to wistfully point out that she’s slowed way down. But, she keeps on going, inspiring those who know and love her. She cheers on her three children, five grandchildren and great-granddaughter. She embroiders lovely baptismal garments for her church’s newborns. She always has a smile and hug to give and never says no to anyone who asks for help, be they family, friends or strangers. And, she prays continually for everyone–including you, even though she’s never met you. She’s a member of what Tom Brokaw dubbed, for good reason, “The Greatest Generation.” Yes, I’m biased: she’s my mother.

Mom came from very modest means but brought with her a treasure chest full of unconditional love that she shares with anyone who needs it. Her petite frame carries an indomitable spirit and the glow of her inner light touches everyone she meets. In order to give her children a better life, she’s sacrificed her own comforts and dreams for the 62 years I’ve known her. In my dictionary, there’s a photo of her next to the definition of the word mother. I often tease her about her Energizer Bunny genes, complaining that she gave them all to my younger brother and sister. She passed along her great mother genes to my sister. Thankfully, she blessed all of us with her humor jeans, er I mean, genes. By quiet example, she taught us all the important things: spirituality, good manners, generosity, honesty, kindness, empathy, forgiveness and so much more.

My memories of growing up include hearing Mom’s melodious whistling while she did her housework, just like Snow White advised in the Disney song—Mom’s whistling skill rivaled Bing Crosby’s. She also loved to sing and lent her lilting soprano voice to the church choir for years. While my brother got a big helping of her musical talent genes, mine are limited to switching on the CD player with a flourish. However, she gifted me with her love of writing, and for that, I’m very grateful. In-between whistling, singing and keeping house, Mom was writing. There were always scrapes of paper on the countertop or corner of the kitchen table containing verses of poetry, puns or clever quips. She even wrote a beautiful Christmas carol that she donated to her church: “Let’s Put Christ Back Into Christmas.” Sadly, after promising they would publish and promote it, the song disappeared, never to be heard again. Despite nudges from family and friends, she never pursued the publishing of her work. She wrote for the same reason all writers do: because she was compelled to. Whether by genes or through osmosis, she passed the writing vocation along to me, and as always, continues to encourage and inspire me.

In January 1998, my husband entered home hospice and emphysema took its final toll on May 19. Needless-to-say, it was a trying time. Living over 100 miles apart, Mom and I exchanged daily e-mails—her support was a lifeline for me. In retrospect, I don’t know if it was by design or synchronicity, but she began ending many of hers with a daffynition. Wikipedia defines that as “a pun format involving the reinterpretation of an existing word, on the basis that it sounds like another word (or group of words).” I really looked forward to them, as sometimes, they provided the only smile in my day. She sent them for a whole year and I saved them. It seems fitting on this Mother’s Day that I share some of them with the world so others can catch a glimpse of just one of the many reasons I consider my mother an amazing woman. Thanks Mom–I love you!

Lorraine’s Daffynitions:

Antibiotics: Uncle Biotic’s wife

Sparerib: Eve

Abundance: the Hula

Investments: undergarments

Coconut: a chocoholic

Standardize: usually blue, brown, green or hazel

Papermate: pencil

Truant: mother’s sister

Mini-van: not Mickey’s

Microsoft: down pillow

Highlights: the Milky Way

Funny: one that never goes out of joint

Line backer: a piece of paper

Romantic: probably bites like any other tick

Knock-Kneed: a door

Jellyfish: long-handled spoon

Webmaster: a spider

Sorbonne: broken leg

Handiwork: ice cream taster

Chatterbox: telephone or computer

Mystify: Mrs. Fy’s husband

Mushrooms: where Alaskan sled dogs are trained

Orchid: a miner’s offspring

Intensity: where campers dwell

Brotherhood: a parka

Nightmare: the one the headless horseman rode

Hairpin: rabbit trap

Rehearsing: he died again

Deer hunter: matchmaker

Courtyard: the personals

Flatbush: ground cover

Properties: the kind you wear with a tuxedo

Weekend: often the one we think with

Increasing: wrinkles

Raisin: the opposite of lowerin’

Dulcie: not a wave anywhere

Butternut: a dairy farmer

Understanding: carpeting

Designer: an eraser

Fast thinking: planning a diet

Steering wheel: CEO

Feinstein: fancy mug

Decide: not the front or the back

Oversight: top of bifocal lenses

Foul ball: the Chicken Dance

Simpleton: 2000 lbs

Deceitful: standing room only

Barrier: funeral director

Lollipop: lazy daddy

Maritime: happy hour

Outsider: overcoat

Band-Aid: conductor

Invoice: conscience

Spearmint: sword factory

Injunction: where food enters the mouth

Debate: minnows

Shortage: childhood years

Sewing Machine: seed spreader

Cornbread: Iowa’s porkers

Press conference: ironing board

Shortening: a side effect of aging

Doughnut: penny pincher

Car Pool: oil leak

Shamrock: fake stone

Lactose: sandals

Revealing: cloning a calf

Hot Dog: stolen pooch

Plaintiff: simple argument


Happy Mother’s Day to all women!

And thank you to all the men who love and support them.

******©UluOla 2011******



  1. Does she have a Daffynition for “beautiful” because that sure was…


    • Thank you, Roderick, for your lovely comment! LOL! No, I think Mom loves and takes beauty too seriously to make up a daffynition about it…


  2. What a wonderful tribute to a woman that I was lucky enough to meet. And who also has produced some amazing women!


    • Thank you, Maureen…and you know Mom considers you an amazing woman, too…and so do I! 😉


  3. As always, you provide wise words and cogent comments. Thank you!


    • You’re welcome, Paul, and thank you for your much appreciated support!


  4. I finally took a time to read this and it brought tears to my eyes. So full of emotion and truth. I am so blessed to know your mom and your entire family. Thanks for taking the time to write this and publish for all. Hope to see you this summer!


    • You’re welcome, Kathy. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the kind words and for blessing our family with your connection with us.


  5. I enjoyed your Mother’s Day tribute to your mother. I found it so endearing that not only did you keep the daffynitions that your Mother created for you during a very challenging time during your life but that you honor her by publishing a really good representation of who she is and what she did for you, her dear daughter . Here, here for your Mother, you and all Amazing women. ALOHA


    • Mahalo, Dawn, for your kind comments. I’m glad you enjoyed my tribute, which includes you…yet another, amazing woman! Aloha to you!


  6. How wonderful to be able to read about the amazing love between you and your mother. Thank you for taking the time to share that with us, M.

    You could not have paid her any greater compliment than taking the time to write down just how much she has done for you, meant to you and continues to inspire you. And from what you have written that love is reciprocated. You are both so blessed.


    • Thank you, Dani, for your lovely words. It was fun sharing her quips–I wanted her to be able to see them published, so to speak. Yes, our whole family is blessed.


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