Be kind, and always give gifts that you would like to have yourself.
Susan Ziebarth of Roseburg said that’s the best advice she recalls her mother giving her. Her mother, Joe Johnson, passed away 50 years ago at the age of 38. But Ziebarth remembered the advice, used it and taught it to her own children.
In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, the News-Review asked readers to tell us the best advice their mothers ever gave them. Be kind to others easily topped the list. Other bits of wisdom included exhortations to follow Christian moral teachings, to enjoy life and to carry on regardless of how tough life gets.
Ziebarth recalled being very poor as a 12-year-old girl in Glendale, and said welfare organizations back then used to give them a little box of items. One time, her box had a perfume bottle shaped like a little bear.
“I really liked that bear. I thought that was pretty cute,” she said. But the family had friends who were worse off than they were, and Mom said each of her kids should take one gift out of the box and give it to one of the needier kids.
“Well, I did not want to give that bear up, but that’s what I gave because that’s the one I would choose for myself,” Ziebarth said.
Mothers, she said, are pretty important.
“We grew up without a whole lot, except we never went hungry, never went without love, and you can’t do better than having a mom that loves you,” she said.
Nancy Yates of Roseburg grew up in Grants Pass and said her mother Eleanor Patterson taught her to be kind to others and to enjoy life. She said her mother used to love traveling, especially to Florida, camping and shopping, especially for antique furniture.
“We could spend hours in the stores, let me tell you. And she used to like to go to garage sales and I enjoy that too,” Yates said.
Bonnie Wageman of Roseburg said her mother Mildred Bassett taught her to always be honest and kind to others. Wageman grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Douglas County 50 years ago.
Bassett had been raised in a bad situation and ended up in a Catholic girls high school. She married right out of high school and had three kids.
“She was quite the individual. She was pretty much a loner, loved to read,” Wageman said. Still, she had a sweet heart, and was always thinking about others, she said.
Wageman said she’s put her mom’s advice to use by being good to her friends.
“A lot of reward, many rewards from being a good friend and kind to others. Things come back to you,” Wageman said.
Not that it’s always easy.
“You run into different circumstances and different people and you just kind of have to roll with the punches. That’s life I guess. Nothing’s ever perfect,” she said.
Jean Van Cleave lives near Sutherlin. She said her mother Mildred Cocks gave her a talking-to when she was young.
“She says, ‘I’m teaching you this now because when you get to be a teenager you will know it all.’ She just told me that well, just be a good girl. Behave myself and don’t mess around,” Van Cleave said. In other words, don’t be promiscuous.
Van Cleave said her parents learned to be Christians after moving to Oregon when she was 10. It started with Van Cleave and her brother going to hear a Missionary Baptist preacher in Wilbur. Her brother convinced their parents to go and hear the man preach. After that, they converted.
Van Cleave, who just turned 80, said she wishes more people in the younger generations had received that advice.
“We got a little better training than what they’re getting nowadays,” she said.
Van Cleave married at 16, and will celebrate her 64th wedding anniversary this month. Christian morals helped her there, too, she said.
“We didn’t run down and get a divorce every time we had a fight. That was mainly it. We waited until we got over it, made up,” she said.
John Uselton of Riddle said his mother Dorothy Uselton’s best advice was to stay out of trouble. He said he’s followed that advice pretty well.
He was involved in sports at school in Riddle, then went on to Oregon Tech (now Oregon Institute of Technology) to study accounting and got a good job for Pacific Gas and Electric. He said he didn’t miss anything by staying out of trouble.
It’s a lesson he also taught his kids.
“They turned out pretty good, so I think I did ‘em halfway decent,” he said.