My Mother's Day All-Star team begins with you Mom

There are multiple versions of the origin of Mother's Day, spanning across the centuries and popping up all over the globe.

An early chapter of the maternal holiday dates back to ancient Greece, where the festival of Cybele, a mother figure in Greek mythology, was celebrated around the Vernal Equinox (somewhere around mid March).

The Romans had a holiday whose name you may recognize, Matronalia, dedicated to Juno, in which mothers were ceremoniously given gifts.

Another account of the holiday holds that Mothering Sunday, celebrated by early Christians in Britain and Ireland, is the source of the holiday we now celebrate annually.

Mothering Sunday was a once-a-year return to your mother church much like a modern-day homecoming.

Mother's Day is now celebrated all over the world, and, last night as I studied, I realized the multicolored annals of the holiday fit very well with the tribe of mothers who have influenced my life.

I make my required sports reference here, because, those of you who know me, realize that to be a mother, wife or grandmother of mine could most certainly be likened unto a sport.

Probably best compared to rugby or professional wrestling.

I say a team of mothers have influenced my life, and that's true. But, while many have mothered me, my mom, Sharon Braley, has been the MVP over the years.

She started off changing my diapers, 35 years ago and has not stopped putting up with my messes since.

My mom has taught me more about perseverance, love and parenthood than I could ever convey in words alone.

My parents were divorced when I was 6-years old, and my mom was a single parent for six more years before remarrying.

She often worked overtime or a second job to make sure we had all we needed.

Momma was often lonely, but sacrificed her personal life to make sure my sister and I were happy.

She always made sure we knew just how much we were loved - not just with words either. Sure, she told us she loved us everyday, but what really mattered were the things she did.

Things like making our Valentine's or birthday cards by hand, laying out our Christmas as if the toys were already playing or staying up late to make cookies for our class even though she had to be at work at 7 a.m.

Without a doubt, she has been the most important maternal or parental figure in my life. Her love has transcended my childhood life, and she is now one of my best friends whenever I need to talk.

Other maternal influences in my life include her mother, my grandmother, Margaret Mapp, who recently passed away.

Granny was the most elegant woman I have known. She never left the house without wearing makeup and wore stylish clothing all her life.

She taught me to take care of myself, look my best and hold my head high.

My father's mother, who we lovingly called 'Fat Granny," gave me the precious gift of salvation. She instilled in me an undying love for Jesus and a yearning to follow his teachings.

My stepfather's mother, Margaret Braley, has also been a blessing in my life.

Some would say she is probably the sternest of my grandparents, but, raised as an orphan, she knew no one was more responsible for her than herself.

That has been her lesson to me. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in, depend on numero uno more than any other and always finish what you start.

My mother-in-law, Wanda Parrish has also been a mother to me. She is a dedicated mom who would literally give the clothes off of her back for her children and grandchildren.

Rounding out my all-star mother's squad is my wife, Amanda.

She has been the mother and wife I couldn't have even dreamed of.

My son, Jody, was recently diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and I have a long-standing spinal cord injury. Amanda takes care of us both and does the work of two mothers.

She was great even before either of us were ill.

And everyday she grows more and more into a mother worthy of mention with Juno, Hera, Cybele or any other motherly goddess of old.

One of her greatest attributes is the love she shows us. She has become a mirror image of my own mother.

I know someday our son will speak of her with the same golden reverence I hold for both her and my own mother.

Jeff Hensley is a sports writer for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. His columns usually run on Fridays and he can be reached at jhensley@news-daily.com.