On this Mother’s Day, I pay tribute to a phenomenal woman who raised children of character not just by words alone, but as a living example of a Christ centered life. Like my Mom Olive Osmond, my mother-in-law Charlene Craig mastered the roll of Motherhood and showed me the importance and how to run a clean and tidy house!
My best memory of Charlene (Mom) was when I took her with me on tour to Australia and New Zealand in the ‘80s. My first son was just six months old at the time and she was so excited… she hadn’t traveled or done anything like that before. I treasure the period that I lived with her as I was getting back into shape to return to my singing career. I will never forgot the diligence that she had in her duties as a devoted homemaker. How she cooked “meals” for the family, labeled them and stored them in the freezer, prior to our overseas trip. She lived on her husband’s school teacher's budget, so she was frugal, took full charge and was a sharp cookie. (She baked scrumptious ones too!) She took joy in Womanhood and taught this working gal the importance of running a super organized, deep-cleaned home… while operating on a shoe-string budget. It was quite a contrast living in the Craig household of strong women versus coming from a family filled with active boys, who honestly did not making house cleaning their priority. 🤪 Bless my Mom, I worked 14 to 18-hour days six days a week, so when I came home late at night from the Donny and Marie show, I always saw that she’d leave a banana on my pillow (for potassium), and off to bed I went, then I’d go straight back to work very early the following morning. I tried to help her as much as I could, but I am blessed to say that most of my homemaking day-to-day domestic skills came from Steve’s Mom.😊
One of Charlene’s greatest joys was to bless the lives of others. She was thrilled a couple of years ago, when I brought to her home three big tubs of beautiful fabrics. She called all her daughters and they all went to work and made quilts to benefit humanitarian causes. Today, I join Steve and his siblings in honoring this “good and faithful servant” we affectionately call “Mother.” I’d like to share with you some heartwarming words from the mouths of her daughters:
“Mom always liked animals. She would adopt strays or take in other people’s pets that they couldn't take care of anymore. She'd talked to Kathryn's bird, or Lucky our dog, the turtle, even our gold fish. Once when we were walking home from church, she heard a kitten crying across a pretty wide boulevard. She dodged vehicles and rescued that kitten that had been hit by a car, wrapped it in her hankie and nursed it back to health. She was the same way with people, trying to comfort everyone. Mom taught me how to love unconditionally.
She loves gardening and flowers of all kinds. The flower beds could never be perfect enough. We'd think a plant was dead but she could tend to it and bring just about anything back to life. She never gave up on anything, not even on people. She never said unkind things about others either. Once, shortly after I was married, I was complaining about something that Tom had done and she took his side! She never said anything bad about any of her children's spouses, just tried to get us to work things out and see the good.
Mom was always supported of anything good we wanted to do. She always encouraged me when I came up with crazy adventures. I once got a call from a friend on a Friday afternoon inviting me on a two-week river rafting trip down the Colorado River. All I had to do was get to Page, Arizona by Sunday afternoon. My Mom drove me there and she turned right around and drove back so she could be home to get the other kids ready for school the next day. The thing that all my children adore about their Grandma is knowing that she loved and cherished them and they cherish and love all her wonderful stories!”
“The most valuable principle Mom taught me was accepting people for who and what they are.
Mom never gossiped, judged people or said unkind words towards anyone.
Growing up, she was a compassionate server, she put the needs of others ahead of her own.
Her grandkids revered her as a hard worker, and she makes them work hard too. My kids were always afraid when she had to babysit because she would put them to work. They lovingly laugh about it now.”
“Mom sewed because she was thrifty and raised seven kids on a school-teachers budget. Dad taught PE and coached in the Beverly Hills School Districts. What Mom did was everything to let Dad be able to do what he needed to do and be. I remember going shopping for material for my 8th grade graduation dress. I found some fabric I really liked but when the salesperson unrolled it from the bolt and there were coffee stains that someone had spilled on parts of the fabric, it looked like there was absolutely no way you could get a dress out of the remaining fabric. But Mom took a look at it and said, "I think I can make a dress out of this." It took quite a lot of work and planning, but somehow, she got enough clean fabric out of it to make me a dress. I loved that dress. I felt so beautiful in it. My friends loved it too and were shocked that my Mom had made it. I kept it for 30 years in my closet. Years later, I was so proud that Mom made my wedding dress too!
Mom wasn’t what you would consider a foodie or a gourmet cook, but she could cook anything. Growing up, she made dinner every night, except, on rare occasions. We just didn't have the funds to go out to eat but perhaps, what I loved most were the cinnamon rolls that she would make. It took most of the day to make the dough, let It rise twice, roll it out add the cinnamon, let it rise again, bake them and then spread the frosting when they were done. It was the most delicious thing ever! Usually, we’d get one or maybe two each but the rest would go to someone who needed kindness shown to them.
Mom was kind and thoughtful of others, but perhaps, the people she helped and paid extra care to, were those who were overlooked by most. When I was a young Mom, was the president of a children's church organization called Primary. It was held once a week in the afternoon. We would pile into our old tan van and drive towards church, picking up other kids on the way. There was a boy and a girl that we would pick up almost every Wednesday. They weren't always the cleanest and often looked pretty ragged. I didn't know much about them and I wondered why we picked them up, but Mom saw something in them and she encouraged these kids to come to church and helped them see and realize their potential. Many years later, I learned that they had a single Mom who struggled just to provide for them. They grew up strong and active in the church, and the boy even went on a mission. I know Mom had a great influence on them.
My daughter Sarah once had a T-shirt that said 'When the going gets tough I go to Grandma's.' We lived right next door to Mom/Grandma and when Sarah was having a hard time or struggling, she would walk through the hedge between our properties to talk to Mom. I think that's what my kids will miss about Grandma the most, she’s always there to listen, love and support them. She was always in the background of our lives, making everything possible. If you didn't look carefully, you could overlook everything she did for us. She move forward when things were difficult, but she always kept going. Even now when she's looking at another diagnosis of cancer. When asked what she thought about it. Her reply, 'It is what it is!' That's my Mom. You take what life gives you, even the unexpected and you go forward!"
“Mom was always said to be kind to people. She listen to them and understood who they REALLY were inside and tried to see what life must be like for them. She is all heart, always offering unselfish service. She embraced everyone and never turned anyone away who was in need of assistance.
She took joy in gardening, scrapbooking, sewing, she was a great homemaker and active in her early years.
I loved how our kitchen smelled when she was canning peaches, making cinnamon rolls, baking bread, and the vinegar scent when she was pickling vegetables. Her unique thanksgiving stuffing is out of this world. She also made the best beef stroganoff (my fave), carrot cake, and a canned relish she preserve and called ‘chili sauce.’ She has instilled in me the faith to study and follow the scriptures and to try to abide by them in all things.”
“Mom taught me to care for others by her example of visiting elderly widows, welcoming strangers into our home to live, and taking care of her Mom for so many years.
Mom is a strong, independent woman who always figures out a way to make things happen. She loves beautiful music and would play Tchaikovsky records for me at night, while I fell asleep. I still always hear music coming from her bedroom.
I love Mom’s potato salad! She makes it for me almost every time I visit her! My kids love and will miss her bossing me around, playfully teasing them too, and her big, soft hugs.
I love you, Mom!"