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Letter to Mom: A Thousand Thanks

Joined: 7/24/2012
Posts: 29
“Go read your books; someday you will be a teacher. I don’t want you be a pot-walloper like me, your mama.” Your words must have come from the eight year old child who, arriving in America, was put to work in a cigar factory, stripping stems out of the leaves. When you told us your job, we teased you--“Our mother was a stripper!”

You always demeaned yourself, though you were the finest baker, the best cook, the creator of dresses for me and suits for my three brothers. You knitted sweaters and socks and crocheted afghans.

You spoke several languages besides English. Yet you went to night school to learn to read and write English, which helped you become the unofficial neighborhood social worker (offering my services as literacy and legal advisor).

I became the teacher who always came to you to be taught; for more words of wisdom than ever came from my professors.

Once, I was at a loss trying to deal with a student who neglected body hygiene. Her classmates complained and it was too cold to open windows. When her mother was called in, she angrily protested that the girl was sent to school to be “learnt, not smelt.”

You shook your head sadly. “I was a dirty child once,” you said. “A nice neighbor gave me a bar of lavender soap with a cloth and told me to wash my hands and face like a lady. I washed every day, and little by little, I smelled better.” It was great advice, Mom; it worked. And I gave her a bottle of perfume, too.

On another occasion, I complained because my students couldn’t understand the difference between a noun and a pronoun. “They will understand sometime,” you told me. “And if they don’t, no matter. A teacher who whines about her students is like a doctor who complains his patients are sick. They need help, not criticism.” Set straight, I designed a fun lesson called pro-nounsense that worked for that class and many others.

When I grumbled that I didn’t go to college to supervise lockers and lavatories and collect milk money, you said, “Someone’s got to do it.” When I was worried about an outbreak of pediculosis, you advised me to cut my hair short and warned me not to lean over my students at their desks. You couldn't come up with a solution to avoid measles, but you did offer tea and sympathy and calamine.

So, Mom, you are never far from my mind and my heart. Your lessons about responsibility, kindness, patience and understanding are my guide. If you were here today you would be pleased that I am well-read and have a dishwasher that does pots.

Yours in gratitude, your loving daughter
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Comment by DarkStar49

Joined: 5/28/2009
Posts: 332
Greg Phillips
Editor, Stage Of Life
Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2013 11:26:44 PM
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Comment by Nate DeRose

Joined: 12/11/2012
Posts: 90
Congratulations! You’ve been selected the "Empty Nest" winner for the May writing contest: "Letter to Mom"

Check out the full report here:

Don’t forget to share your story and show your accomplishment on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media!

Thanks for submitting, and we look forward to your future submissions.
Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 12:22:44 AM
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Baby Boomers (and older!) blog on StageofLife.comAbout Us is a blogging community for "Empty Nesters" and those in (or near) retirement to share stories about the adventure of life in an online journal via their free Stage of Life account.  Read the blogs and stories from Baby Boomers (and older), or check out the writing contest for Baby Boomers, quotes about retirement, etiquette advice, videos about retirement, discounts for retirement, and other resources for those in the Empty Nest and Retirement stage of life.  Register to start your free profile, share an essay about your life experiences, and pass along your wisdom to help us change the world, one story at a time.  If you are a college professor, teacher or educator - review our literacy, blogging and writing resources.

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From 2010 to 2016, ran a monthly, multi-generational writing contest.  With over 3,000,000 visitors and tens of thousands of participating students, teachers, parents, and bloggers involved over half a decade, grew into the world's largest multi-generational writing community. writing contestsWhere is the Writing Contest Now?  As grew into a global writing destination, the coordination of managing an international writing contest became too time intensive for the website's owners.  So starting on Sept. 4, 2016, unfortunately had to end the writing contest portion of its services. 

However, we are now actively looking for new owners of who may want to carry on the mission of helping to change the world, one story at a time.  If you know someone who may be interested in taking to the next level, we can share details around the opportunity.  Please send an email to our owners if there's interest to acquire the website.

But in the meantime, there's still plenty to see and do here - just check out the various links and menus on the page.

Past Annual Writing Contest Results:  While the energy and time to carry on the writing contest has come to a close, you can see summary reports and the winners from the monthly contests on our Writing Contest Winners page.  Tens of thousands of people have submitted essays over the last six years.  Our editorial team has been extremely grateful for all of the wonderful essays shared over the years - words and stories that have helped us change the world, one story at a time.

Sincerely, owners Eric & Rebecca Thiegs and Joe & Lisa Thiegs

Bragging rights, international recognition, and gift card prizes were part of the fun for participants of the free writing contests on

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Each month over half a decade, Stage of Life hosted and judged writing contests for both students and adults.  We thank the below brands - our educational sponsors - who supplied gift cards as prizes for the winning essays as we helped the change the world through blogging, storytelling, and our literacy-based initiatives...

 Writing contest sponsor  Writing contest sponsor on  Blogging contest prize sponsor Spa & Wellness gift cards by SpaWeek writing contestsWhat made our writing contests different?

  • Stage of Life writing contests were always free to enter
  • Essays from our blogging and writing contests have been picked up by the media, e.g., and used by teachers as mentor texts across the globe
  • We wanted to hear your personal, authentic thoughts on real world topics each month.  We picked writing prompts for which your answers and wisdom may help our readers
  • We awarded the winners with real prizes (cash and/or gift cards) from our site sponsors
  • By entering the Stage of Life writing contests each month, writers were supporting our free educational literacy initiatives and their words reached hundreds of thousands of viewers who visited

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