Chuck Norris Honors Mom As She Turns 102: She Worked Nights To Get Her 3 Sons Out Of Poverty

Kicking it with his mom on May 4, to celebrate her 102nd birthday, Chuck Norris posted a heartfelt message honoring the woman he says is “so full of life that she might make it another 100 years!”

Chuck, who turned 83 in March, writes in a letter to his mom, Wilma, “Mom, I don’t know what’s more difficult to believe: that you are 102 years old or that you have a son who is 83 years old! Regardless, I’m so grateful you are my mom. I always have been. We’ve been through thick and thin in this life, and we are still going strong.”

A child in the Great Depression, Wilma didn’t have it easy. Living in poverty, she raised her three boys, Chuck the eldest, as a single mother.

When Wilma became a centenarian, Chuck saidof her, “Mom has been an example of perseverance and faith her whole life. She’s also endured the deaths of her two husbands, a stepson, two grandchildren, and my younger brother Wieland in the Vietnam War. She’s had cancer repeatedly and has undergone roughly 30 different surgeries for various issues–yet she’s still here to tell about it.

”In May 2012, Wilma, who still refers to Chuck as Carlos, appeared on The Mike Huckabee Show, and freely spoke about her life. Describing her sons, she said Chuck is the “defender,” his brother, Aaron, is her “sunshine,” and the Wieland, the youngest who died in Vietnam, was her “hero.”

After being abandoned by her alcoholic husband, Wilma said when Chuck was only 14, “he was the man of the house,” who would babysit his younger brothers while she worked the night shift, also helping her when it came to paying bills.

Despite the difficulties Wilma experienced, she instilled values in her boys and taught them to be fighters. “Making us believe that we can achieve things in life, that there will be obstacles but if you’re determined enough, you can overcome any obstacle in life if you have the belief in yourself,” Norris said.

Born in 1940 and growing up in a small town in Oklahoma, Chuck grew up watching stars like John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Hopalong Cassidy, so it’s not surprising he ended up being one of Hollywood’s all-time greatest action stars.