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I was just a kid when my daddy had a heart attack. I remember the night my mother said, “Betsy, we’re going to the hospital. You stay here. Eat your dinner.” By then my three big brothers had all grown up and moved out, so it was just me and my little dog, Missy. After he got out of the hospital, Daddy looked gray and tired. He was out of work for a long time. The bills just piled up. And then one day, I walked into my mother’s bedroom. Her face was red and puffy, and about a dozen wadded-up tissues were on the bedspread next to a black dress. It was my mother’s best dress – the one she wore to weddings and funerals. At first I was confused. I wondered if someone had died. She said, “We are not going to lose this house.” She squeezed into that dress, put on her lipstick and high heels, blew her nose and wiped her eyes, and walked to the Sears Roebuck down the street. At 50 years old, she got her first job outside the home answering the phones and taking catalog orders. My mother’s minimum wage job at Sears saved our home, and it saved our family. Today? A minimum wage job won’t keep a momma and baby out of poverty. When my mother put on that dress and walked out the front door, she taught me that mothers do whatever it takes to fight back. Where mothers and families end up in life today is more than just hard work and good fortune - policies matter too. That’s why I fight to honor my mother, on Mother’s Day and every day.

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