A special thank-you to my mom


A letter to my mother, Shirley Autry, on her birthday …

Dear Mama,

First, let me start by saying that you are amazing! As I reflect on my journey of life, the one thing that is always constant is your unconditional love for me, even at times when I was unlovable … thank you!

You were my first teacher, role model, hero, and nurturer. I can sincerely say that I am ALL that I am today because of YOU and the sacrifices you made while raising me and my siblings. You taught me how to be graceful, persistent, courageous, and so many other things that are far too much to mention.

Most importantly, you taught me the value of a good education and how it could take me far in life, which it has indeed! My accomplishments in this life as an educator and mother are due to the values which you’ve taught me.

I thank you for so many things …

Thank you for always making me home-made biscuits with cinnamon apples each time I come home. Thank you for baking me your home-made German chocolate cake! Thank you for helping to take care of Halle when we lived in North Carolina. Thank you for being in the delivery room with Joseph and I when she was delivered. I was so frightened! Thank you for being her grand-mother! Thank you for sending me private posts and text messages to keep me encouraged as we live so far away. Thank you for being there, listening to me, and caring for me when I felt alone in this world.

What you’ve done for me throughout my years on this earth matters even more now than I could ever tell you. I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude. Thank you for being my mom. I love you mama!

Your daughter,

Jennifer Smith

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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