COLUMBIA — Many people don’t often step back and say thank you — not to the neighbor who watches your house when you’re away, nor to your friends and family who take care of you when you’re sick.
On Thursday night, a group of friends and family took the time to say thanks and honor each other.
Precious Memories is an annual event started by Wynna Faye Elbert more than 15 years ago as “an opportunity during Women’s Month to celebrate other women,” she said.
“We don’t ever just say I love you — or we don’t do enough of it,” she said to the women gathered upstairs in the Armory Sports and Recreation Center as they nibbled chocolate chip cookies and drank punch made from ginger ale and orange sherbet. Each woman took a turn to tell a story about the special women in their lives and thank them for their care and companionship.
Many of the women in the room were related through family or had known each other since they were children.
“We all grew up together,” Columbia native Brenda Hartley said.
Hartley read a poem to honor her mother, Mildred Washington, a community leader whom many woman in attendance said they looked up to.
“She’s a mother to a lot of people,” Hartley said.
Sitting next to her daughter, Washington got choked up as she told how her children stuck by her when she was hospitalized in 2001. She said she was so grateful to have her family and friends.
“I feel so blessed,” she said.
The group also honored mothers who are no longer alive. Elbert said she remembers a special ritual she shared with her mother: watching “The Young and the Restless.” Her mother hated Victor, a character in the show, Elbert said.
Elbert thanked her daughters, sisters and friends in the room for helping her through a series of illnesses in her family. She said they cooked, did her laundry and gave her a ride when she needed it.
“Thank you guys for being there for me, but we ain’t through yet,” Elbert said.
The women left the event with candles and vases they won in a raffle and extra cookies in plastic foam cups. They chatted and laughed with each other as they walked outside. Many said they were glad they came.
"It means a lot to hear others express thanks for mothers and other members of their family," Washington said.