It was a bittersweet Mother's Day for the Rushing family in Tylertown. Mother Shirley Rushing said she enjoyed being around her family for this special occasion but said she couldn’t stop thinking about one person.
Inside her home, over 200 cards cover the walls. Some people wrote greetings, while others sent get well soon wishes, but these notes were not for Shirley.
Instead they were addressed to her daughter Millie, who is also known as “The Card Lady” from Tylertown.
"She just wrote cards galore," Rushing said. "She had cards in the mailbox everyday to mail to somebody."
Millie made it a priority to write to the sick, grieving and to friends that needed support. However, Millie never complained about her own struggles. She was born with Cerebral Palsy, a disability that affected the movement in her legs. Millie had to use an electronic wheel chair her whole life to move around.
"She always thought about other folks, never even said nothing about herself or anything going on with herself," said her sister Connie Jenkins.
In April, Millie was sent to the hospital in Jackson and then Hattiesburg, and the doctors found a cancerous tumor the size of a watermelon inside her stomach.
"Yeah it was like a dream, a bad dream," Jenkins said. "It's like it’s not even real. It still doesn't seem real."
However, this didn't stop Millie from writing; she also received an overwhelming amount of support from people in her community. Area pastor Mike Dykes heard about her story and decided to visit.
"I feel like to me she was a modern day nightingale, with a little bit of Mother Teresa,” Dykes said. “She cared a lot about people.”
50-year-old Millie passed away on May 2 and was surrounded by friends, family and thousands of cards hanging around her hospital bed.
"I thought 'God, please, I don’t want to be selfish but don’t take my baby right now,' but He said He had a better place for her than what I did," Rushing said.
For the Rushing family, faith has always been important, especially to Millie, and her mother said this will give her the strength to move forward.
"It’s very hard sometimes, but you know what God's there with us,” Rushing said. “Millie always said she stayed by herself and I told her you don’t have to stay by yourself and she said 'I’m not, God’s with me,'” Rushing said.
Rushing said she promises to keep her daughter’s memory alive by continuing to write cards to the elderly who need love and support.