A Tribute to My Mom

My mother turned 80 this week. That would seem fairly old in most circles, but considering her uncle is 100, she’s one of the youngin’s–at least to him. She’s a remarkable woman who continues to run her own company, dresses extremely fashionable, and regularly turns up at “grandkid” events. On top of all that, she’s over-the-top healthy with a beautiful smile.
In her “old” age, she won’t wear short sleeves AT ALL, refuses to sleep in front of someone else (even if she’s at the hospital sitting for hours), and STILL would rather be the driver than the passenger any day.
Did I say she is remarkable? She dreams of snow skiing “one more time” and never misses a vacation to the beach, where she reads and cooks and smiles as she watches the great-grandkids play in the ocean. She loves to read and always has a audio book in her car ready to listen to as travels the state on business or pleasure. She also loves linen and a good pair of shoes and she loves SALES. She passed that trait down to all of us girls. We don’t go shopping like we used to anymore, but we’ve got memories of driving home from Dallas with sacks of clothes wedged between us girls on our ride back home. She loves for her family to stop by her house. She NEVER acts like she has anything else to do except wait for us to appear, but we know that’s not true. If she says she has nothing in her cabinet to cook, it won’t matter because she can turn “nothing” into a feast as easy as Jesus fed the 5000. There’s nothing better than a meal at Mamaw Jo’s house.
As a child, I knew my mother to be a strong woman. She had a look and a snap that could get all six kids’ attention right fast. She never let a morning pass that breakfast wasn’t on the table and we were expected to eat it and not complain. After all, it is the most important meal of the day, she would warn. The same was true of the dinner table. Everyone was expected to be there, in our assigned seats, with pleasant faces and kind conversation.
When we were very young, our home was too small for such a large family, but no problem. With a fearless, “can do” spirit, my mom bricked in the garage to make us a family room, which came in handy when the out of town cousins came to visit. As we reached our teenage years, mom never wavered as the “in charge” person and no matter how tall you got, you looked up to her. She led with a kind, but confident spirit that left us children feeling loved and secure. Our home was always open to our friends coming over and she would rather have us there than any other place in the world. She had a smile and a hug for all of our friends, even those that she felt were not the best examples for her impressionable teens. You see, most of her six children were teens during the turbulent late sixties and early seventies. I’ve no doubt she and my daddy lost sleep, praying and worrying about one or two of us during those years.
During my college years, mom went from angel to super-angel as three of my grandparents needed assistance. All three ultimately moved in with my mom and dad and, with the same confidence and concern given to us six kids, my mom cooked, cleaned, and cared for all of my grandparents until their deaths. I know, I’ve already used the remarkable word, but what else can I say???
Now all of us children are grown with children and even grandchildren of our own, but she’s still the mom. She continues to “check” on us with phone calls and text messages (yes, she’s also very tech-savy. Did I use the word remarkable yet?), cook for us when we’re sick, listen to us as we share our hurts and disappointments, celebrate with us when we report good news, travel with us to see the rest of the family that we can’t get to stay on our street, join us in our ministry efforts, and never miss an opportunity to tell her six children, twelve grandchildren, and nineteen great-grandchildren and some super-special nieces and nephews that she loves them.
It’s been almost three years since mom lost her best friend, our daddy, on July 2, 2008. We all miss him on a daily basis, but rejoice that he is resting comfortably or fishing or selling a house or whatever else God lets him do Heaven. Mom continued to be the rock for our family as we dealt with his illness and death, but we knew how very hard it was for her. Her example has made us all stronger and love her that much more, if that was possible.
Remarkable–indeed! Was I blessed to be one of her six children? Indeed!
Mother’s Day is fast approaching, but who has to wait for that holiday to tell your mom how much you love her. I don’t think I’ll wait.
Love you mom!! You’re the best.


  1. Very inspiring to read how your mom is so active and tech savey at her age! She really is a rare jewel and I’m challenged now to be just like her!! Aging gracefully and being all I can be for God, family and others. What a legacy!

  2. Lovely tribute to a gutsy, gracious woman. You have many of her amazing attributes!

  3. Hi Chryssy, Girl did you ever hit that nail on the head! Beautiful Mother’s Day tribute to the woman I call “Aunt Jo.” She also had your Uncle Buck, Aunt Hazel, cousin Robert, and cousin Marcia move in for several weeks back in the Fall of 1967. I was driving when we got to your house in Alexandria at about 3am. My eyes were glazed and weary when we pulled into the driveway … your mom, fully presenting herself as though it was her “favorite” time of the day grabbed me up in a hug that made everything right with the world. For a sixteen year old that had never lived anywhere but Arizona, I knew from that moment that I was at home … here in Louisiana. Betty Jo Durham Shackelford is the best picture of biblical hospitality God ever created. And she was not about to keep those genes to herself as they are abundantly evident in you my dear cousin.


  4. What a lovley tribute to your mum, she sounds wonderful:)

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