Two Teens Win Annual Mother’S Day Essay Contest



Josh Graham and Merissa Rushlow

Winners of the annual Payson Jewelers Mother’s Day essay contest were Josh Graham, a senior at Payson High School, and Merissa Rushlow, a sophomore at PHS.

Graham won a diamond ring for his mother from Payson Jewelers owners Robert and Melissa Higginbotham; Rushlow won a Four Peaks amethyst pendant.

The essays by the two teens topped those submitted by the 400 entries in this year’s contest.

“It was the most entries we have probably even had,” said Melissa Higginbotham.

Entry by Josh Graham


Out of all the people in the world, how many are as strong as my mom? Out of all the women in the world, how many are as happy, confident and gracious as my mom? Out of all the mothers in world, how many could handle being my mom? Only Stacey Graham, my mom.

Of course, many would quickly argue and say that their mom is the best and show me their new video game system or jewelry. Of course you could just look at all the material things your mother bought you and compare them to what I don’t have. But you would be completely foolish to do so, for my mother doesn’t show love with gifts. She doesn’t convince me she loves me by giving me money. She shows she loves me by giving me life. I can’t tell you how much my mother loves me, but only because there is no such measurement. If you could buy love, the whole world would have to go poor forever just to get a tiny bit of my mother’s love for me.

Before I was even born, my mother’s life was threatened because of me. My biological father was not yet ready for a child and was furious about getting my mom pregnant. He told her not to tell anyone he was the father or he’d kill her. Needless to say he left her.

Even though my mother didn’t have much support in a situation where abortion was best, she went through with the pregnancy right out of high school. For that reason alone, my mom is crowned the best mom. Putting her life on the line for mine.

Sure, sometimes I think life would be better if I had more man-made things. But I learned from my mom that man doesn’t last forever and neither does his things. But the content of his character can go down in history, to be looked upon by others for years after you die. My mom’s spirit has inspired me to become a better person, to take responsibility, and to become a man.

Everyone needs a mother like mine … how lucky I am.

Entry by Merissa Rushlow

My mom, Sherri Whaylee, was the worst when I was little. She always insisted that I couldn’t live on licorice and Twinkies. Apparently I needed some sort of “substance” to my meals and I had to finish everything on my plate before I could leave the table and play with my Legos and watch SpongeBob. We had to eat salad and our vegetables and we could never slip them under the table to the dog.

My brother and I would go play outside in the dirt and when we came in we always had to take a bath and we could never go anywhere dirty. Every morning I was practically force fed my Flintstones vitamins and inspected for wrinkles and stains. My shoes always had to be tied and on tight so I didn’t trip when I was running.

My mother had no sense of adventure. No pet lizards or bugs in the house and our rooms were to be clean before we did anything else. The simplest activities — like going over to a friend’s house — were complicated by my mother’s worry. She always had to know where we were, what we were doing and who we were with. There was no, “Hey, Mom, I’ll see you later” without giving her a specific time, location and phone number. Every few hours we had to call to check in to let her know we were OK, the “eye” was always upon us.

Not only did our rooms and clothes have to be clean, but so did our language. No curse words exited my lips unnoticed, and a bar of soap was always waiting nearby.

When I arrived home from school, I was told to sit down and relay every tiny detail of my day and then was sent to the table to do my homework. My friends called my mom the drill sergeant, especially when we were on field trips. There was no play fighting or any other inappropriate happenings.

She was always butting in on my life and inquiring about my moods. I could never get away with a generic answer like “fine” or “nothing’s wrong” — I had to be detailed. There was no chance for secrets to fester in our minds and give us ghastly thoughts. It always seemed like she cared way too much.

When I look back over the past 16 years, I finally appreciate what my mom did for me. She always cared more for me than all my friends’ parents did. She helped me define some good habits and even when she’s not around, she’s there more for me than the people closest to me. If I hadn’t learned from stories and mistakes she shared with me I would probably be a high school dropout with a kid or sitting in jail. My mom helped me lay down boundaries and ideas that remain inlaid in me to this day. I turned into the healthy and hard-working person I am today because my mom modeled that out for me when I was younger. I may have thought of her as the most horrendous mother ever when I was younger, but she was protecting me from my inexperienced self and was trying to keep me from making the same mistakes she made.

I wouldn’t change anything about her; she is the perfect mother, faults and all. Thank you for your time.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.