Paris Goodnight: Remembering mothers from an earlier generation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 14, 2023

Leading up to Mother’s Day, I like to think back on some of the things my mom taught me and try to remember the best of times, not when we didn’t always see eye to eye, which was more often than I like to admit.

It’s also a time to lament not being able to meet her mother, who would’ve been my “other” grandmother who certainly would have doted on all her grandchildren like my dad’s mom did.

But my grandmother on that side died when my own mother was just a young girl, so all the wisdom that she would have been able to pass on to her daughter went missing.

That also meant my mom and her younger brother had to grow up without a mother figure and under the care of my grandfather, who was in an unenviable position at any era, but particularly back then when support services were mostly family-related and not always easy to come by.

That’s why as I got older, I tried to have a little more sympathy for things I didn’t agree with that my mom seemed to force on her children. Maybe it was just me being too sensitive about her ways, but I slowly started to realize that she also had
done her best to raise a family while my dad worked a second shift in the cotton mill of Kannapolis and wasn’t around to discipline four — rotten at times — children. Surely her father also did the best he could with the hand he had been dealt.

It’s hard to rationalize all that when you’re a youngster though. So the older I get, the more I appreciate this special time to remember the sacrifices of mothers in general and mine in particular.

If your own mother is still around, be sure to thank her  and enjoy looking back on those fond times and memories you have. And I’m sure like Christmas can be to some folks who have suffered loss, it’s not always the best of times if the mother/child dynamic was not one filled with sunshine and happiness.


With Mother’s Day being the time to celebrate one generation of family relations, I’d say it’s also a time to look back even further to those women who played the key role in making all of us who we are. My grandmother that I never knew was part of the McClamrock clan of Woodleaf. I still wonder what it would have been like to be around her and glean that wisdom that she would’ve been able to pass along. Maybe she could have instilled in me what I needed to do to make the cucumbers grow better  in the backyard garden. But of course I had a chance to learn such stuff from my other grandparents but I didn’t spend enough time honing those skills when there was so much other fun to get into around their farm.

The McClamrock side also may have been able to offer more of the finer sides of life for all I know since we always had to be on our best behavior and keep their floor spotless when we actually got to meet our great-grandparents who were still living when we were kids. So I did get a little taste of their lifestyle at an early age but not nearly enough.

But who ever gets to enjoy their parents and grandparents or other relatives as much as they’d like?

They don’t make a card that can thank all the previous generations for the good things they passed along to those who came after them. But if there was a way, I’d certainly like to find it and honor them. Maybe if we can teach our own little ones some ways to listen and learn from the elders who are still around, that will be good enough. That’s of course not always an easy task.


My own children had the good luck of getting to know two grandmothers and two grandfathers all the way into their adult years. Plus, they had both of their own parents around, which doesn’t always happen either.

I never got to tell my children nearly enough about their earlier grandparents who were gone before they arrived. Maybe they picked up a few little hints along the way. But I still wish I would have asked my great-grandparents what my grandmother was like. But then they were gone long before I could think of such questions.

I’ll just try to remember them fondly and let my imagination run wild with what their daughter was like and I’ll try to leave a few videos or written crumbs hanging around for my own grandchildren if any come along, just in case I’m not around long enough to do all that spoiling that grandparents are known for. I think I’d be good at that job.

Paris Goodnight is editor of the Salisbury Post.