My mother grew up during the depression. Even though her father did have a job throughout that time, he was an alcoholic and drank away most of the money he made. She dropped out of school her junior year and got married when she was 17 to my father. I was born three years later.
She was basically a "tomboy" when she was young and hadn't learned a lot of the things she needed to know to be a wife and mother. And yet, somehow she managed pretty well. She did eventually go back to school and even took some college classes, but most of her education was experience-based. I always admired her for that.
She did two things that made her one of my great teachers. The first one is that she taught me through her mistakes. I was constantly reminded how important education is. I was constantly told that I would finish college and then I could get married. I can't say that she said these things out-loud, but these ideas, along with others, were always implied.
The second thing she did was instill a love of books in me. When I was in the hospital a few times as a child, she would buy me new books to read. When there were things she thought I needed to know, she would check out books from the library. These were things that were important for me to know, but she felt she didn't have enough information herself or she just didn't want to discuss them with me. She and my father also purchased a set of encyclopedias when I was about eight or nine years old. I knew they couldn't afford them, but it was a sacrifice they made because they knew that education was the key to any kind of success.
At this point, I just want to say that I love them, admire them, and thank them for all they did.