Mom's best advice

May 08, 1998

Mom always may have had the last word, but no doubt it was a wise one.

No one knows that better than syndicated columnist Heloise, who took over "Hints from Heloise" after her mother died.

We asked readers to tell us the best advice their mother ever gave them, and Heloise offered to help make our story more fun by offering a personally autographed copy of her latest book, "Heloise Hints for All Occasions."

We drew a name at random from those who responded. The winner of the book was Helen Willis of Hagers-town.

Readers' responses emphasized something we already knew: that mom's advice bears repeating.

Today, on Mother's Day, we'd like to share their wisdom with you.

- Teri Johnson, Staff Writer

"There's nobody in the world that's better than you are, but you're not better than anyone else."

Those are the words syndicated columnist Heloise heard from her mother, a military housewife who started "Hints from Heloise" in 1959.


Her mom's given name was Eloise Cruse, but she added the "H" to give alliteration. When she died in December 1977 at age 58, her daughter took over the column. She changed her name from Ponce to Heloise, dropped her last name and is known to readers all over the world for her advice on making their homes and lives run more smoothly.

Heloise, 47, says readers often share advice their mothers gave them.

The San Antonio resident says a favorite hint her mother told her was to keep a plastic container about the size of a mayonnaise jar by the kitchen sink. She fills the container three-quarters full with water and places it inside a wicker basket for decoration.

Heloise puts her dirty silverware in the container to soak, and when it is time to wash the dishes, the silverware is practically clean. It also keeps silverware from falling into the garbage disposal.

Heloise describes her mom as a cross between Auntie Mame and Lucille Ball.

"She was wacky, but underneath all that, she was really smart," she says.

Heloise says her mother taught her and her brother, Louis Cruse, to treat everyone the same.

She hated when a woman called herself "just a housewife," and often said housewives were the backbone of this country.

Heloise says people still are in awe that within three years her mother was nationally syndicated and appeared in 600 newspapers.

"I really feel lucky when I go to a function and someone says 'Your mother was really something,' " she says.

"Never give up, and be assertive in life."

The words of the late Barbara Willis have been an inspiration to her daughter, Helen Willis of Hagers-town.

"She was a very intelligent, loving, thoughtful and beautiful woman," Willis says.

Barbara Willis, who died in 1985, grew up during the Depression and graduated from high school at age 16. She loved to paint, draw, write, do crafts and cook.

"Most everyone that encountered her, both young and old, adored her," Willis says.

Willis, who is the youngest of two daughters and is physically challenged, says her mother gave her plenty of good advice.

"She also said 'You're special and one of God's children. God made you that way for a reason,' " Willis says.

Willis, 33, says her mom told her many times about her grandmother, who had polio and died before Willis was born. She says her grandmother was spunky and overcame her challenges.

"I did inherit two of mom's gifts: I do love to write and plan to pursue that area someday. Also, I'm assertive in ways such as my physical challenge goes," she says.


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