Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Love letters to Mom

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When it comes to moms -- and daughters and sons -- there is no shortage of statistics.

There are 9.8 million moms in Canada.

Each year there are more than 375,000 births across Canada, including 16,000 in Manitoba.

Statistics Canada's 2011 census and national household survey reports there are 43,860 single moms in the province. There are 15,805 blended families with at least one child aged 24 or younger. There are 114,985 traditional families with at least one child aged 24 or younger. There are 180 female same-sex couples who have children. And each year there are on average 1,271 children born to teen moms.

But numbers don't tell the human story. So, we asked readers to write about the only number that matters and that is what makes their mom No. 1.

(Submissions have been edited for clarity and space)

 

My daughter Amber became a mother in the most tragic of ways, through the unexpected death of her first born -- a beautiful daughter Erica -- during labour. We don't blame anyone for the loss of Erica, but Amber felt this pain for a long time. Through a second pregnancy, she gave birth to Desmond. It's been a difficult year to be a new parent when the loss of the first baby was still so new. But Amber lifted herself out of the sorrow and what an amazing mother she has become. She never forgets Erica, but with Mother's Day coming, telling Amber's story is a good way to honour all of them. I have never felt such sorrow as at the loss of Erica, and holding Amber in my arms during the birth of the little girl and then again with Desmond, helping her give life another chance in the birth of Desmond. She is a great example of motherhood and courage.

-- Patricia Komadowski

 

"Your mother certainly has set the bar high for you and your sister, hasn't she?"

A dear friend and longtime resident of Riverview Health Centre made this comment to me a few weeks ago. I've always known my mother is an incredible woman whose capacity to love seems never-ending. However, it took my father's tragic accident in 2009 to realize the magnitude of the impact she has had on other people's lives.

Our father suffered a traumatic brain injury in September 2009. Mom was by his side every day except for one (she needed day surgery) for three years until he passed away. She has become an inspiration to all who have met her because of her selfless dedication to my father. Mom became a second mother or grandmother to many of the staff of the chronic-care ward Dad was on. His room became a popular destination for many staff and other residents who were buoyed by her positive attitude and loving devotion.

She always had an emergency supply of chocolates on hand to slip into the pocket of housekeeping staff, health-care aides, or nurses because "everyone needs a treat once in a while."

When my father died, the staff not only mourned his death, they also felt the great loss of our mother's presence. We return to Riverview Health Centre two days a week to visit many of the residents who have become like family to us. Mom hasn't been able to return to 2West because it is too emotionally devastating for her, but she has a never-ending stream of people who come down and wait their turn to have a hug and quick visit with this lady who has touched so many lives.

She has bestowed such a gift of love and friendship on so many people, it makes me realize how lucky I am to have this amazing woman as the greatest, most inspiring role model in my life.

My sister and I were blessed with two daughters each of our own. These four lovely young ladies all cite their Oma as the person whose life they most wish to emulate. If that indeed is the case, the future will most truly be in wonderful hands.

-- Susanne Peter

 

My mother was forced to give up her baby girl for adoption 43 years ago. It was 1970 and nice girls from good families did not have children out of wedlock.

Today, I am a parent of two wild little boys. I have a loving marriage and our young family is the most important part of my life. I have found both my biological parents -- they are both married to lovely, supportive partners and actively involved in my life and the lives of their grandchildren. We are a unique blended family of the past and the present. I would like to wish my birth mother Virginia a happy Mother's Day and to thank her for the life I have today.

Love, from your found family, Anna, Jason, Connor and Kai

 

I absolutely love my mom! She is there when I get hurt and when I'm down. We go camping ever year at Rock Garden Campground and one thing I love doing with her after we have a little fire is we go inside the tent and play cards or watch a movie! My mom is the most loving person I know. She is sweet, kind, and loves her four kids and three grandkids.

-- Caitlyn F, 11, brother Matthew, sisters Marie and Jennifer, and grandkids River, Christian, and Connor! Love you mom! Happy Mothers Day!

 

When I was 10, I remember seeing my mom's super generous side by delivering a food basket to a family we knew.

But my favourite memory was in 2011, when I was in Grade 12, when we went on vacation in New York.

"My school (band) was going and I wasn't in the band... so she took me to make sure I still got that experience."

"We went everywhere! Even the Bronx. We went to the Seinfeld Restaurant, went to see Phantom of the Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art."

My mom always tries new things and pushes me to do the same.

"She's super adventurous. I wouldn't be going into journalism if it weren't for her always encouraging me to always go outside my comfort zone and inspiring us. She's just the kind of person who's there for everyone. She is a rock for everybody. That's who she is. She's lovely."

-- Amber McGuckin

 

My mom, Sonia Tunstead, is a strong, lively senior. My dad passed away suddenly in 1983; leaving her with my brother, then 15, and me. I was in nursing school at the time. My mom managed to pull herself together and got a job with Boeing, where she worked the next 20-plus years. Over the years, my mom has been an advocate for my brother, who has a serious mental illness. She has gone on trips and done many things with my three kids, her only grandchildren. She has shown my family how to treat everyone with respect and make the most of life in spite of having a couple of serious illnesses.

-- Leanne Hanuschuk

 

There has never been a harder working, more generous woman in my life -- sewing 30 dance costumes every year for 15 consecutive years is only one example of the endless sacrifices she's made for me and my two sisters. I could go into detail about how she'd have a delicious supper waiting for us when we got home from school (and she hates cooking), or I could attempt to explain how she received a science degree while taking care of three young children and working full time. But none would accurately cover the loving labour she's put into making her children's lives special.

When it comes to what makes Karen special, I could talk about how she can transform any house into a Christmas wonderland with her abundance of Santa figurines, or the fact she will still French-braid her 20-year-old daughter's hair without asking why she can't do it herself. But what I truly thank my mom for is the instillment of the importance of family; the one you're born into and the one you choose for yourself. My mom has always made it clear family comes first, and while you don't always have to agree with your family, you do have to love and respect them. That's what makes my mom special; she has never lost sight of what's important in this life. I love you so much, K-Ran. You'll always be a ray of sunshine on my cloudiest days.

-- Samantha Samson

 

When we were growing up, my mom was and still is the kind of person who lets us live our lives and learn from our mistakes.

She was always there when we needed her and always put her own feelings and needs aside.

Our dad passed away almost four years ago and then she lost her mom a few months later. She was so concerned about her four kids -- who are all grown up now and have our own families -- that she spent her time with us making sure we were OK instead of mourning.

My mom was so amazing that all our friends came to our house even though it was the smallest because they all knew they were welcome and that she would feed us all homemade bread and fried bread and just have a safe and happy place to go.

Mom has battled cancer twice and helped take care of our dad all the time he was sick. She never complained. She is a rock and my hero.

-- Micheline Fay

 

My mom is hands-down the greatest woman I know. I would be completely lost without her and often don't tell her how much I appreciate her.

She adopted both my sister and me at an early age and committed her time to raising and nurturing us. I have so many memories from my childhood that I hold on to. Being a parent now, I can see how much energy and time she committed to keeping our family seamless. She managed to do all of this while working as a nurse and being a strong member of the community.

She's such a selfless person and always considers others before herself. Whether it was volunteering at our elementary school, canvassing for charities or building schools in Mexico, it never fails to amaze me how much she makes this world a better place.

I can't say the same for myself, though. Growing up as the black sheep, I put my parents through a lot of torment in my teenage years. No matter how many times I betrayed them, my mom was always waiting with open arms and the willingness to help me fix whatever trouble I got myself into.

Now I have a son, and often think back to how she raised me, to project that on him. Without her and my dad, we wouldn't be living the life we are able to. They're still helping me through life and constantly showing me how to be the parent I want to be. There are no words to really describe how lost I would be without them and how much they both mean to me.

At the end of the day, my mom is the most beautiful, resilient and loving woman I could ever hope to be like one day. Today, I say thank you, mom. Thank you for loving me when it was impossible. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for making every dream possible and thank you for being the woman I admire most.

Love you forever, Kayla Johnson

 

My mom, Hilda Leveque, and dad have been through a lot. Dad had a stroke in 2010 and is in a wheelchair now. Mom, a loving caregiver and wife, always puts his needs first and was there for his journey to recovery. Then in December 2012, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My mom survived her ordeal and has been cancer-free for one year. The day after her mastectomy, they found out the church they pastored in had burned to the ground. This past year, they bought a new building for the church and renovations are almost done. Her love for life and her unbelievable strength got us through the tough times. I didn't see her cry, even though many times I wanted to. She helped me get through all this.

She is also a school teacher. Her students were glad to have her return in the fall.

She amazes me. She demonstrates love for her husband, family, home church, students and community. Above all else she has an unfailing faith and love for God. I think that's what makes my mom special and my hero!

-- Amy Leveque

 

On Mother's day, I will not celebrate nor spend time with her this year. She might even not hear from me. Not because we are in conflict, it is just that she is thousands of miles away. Still, I have never felt so close to her as I do today. She somehow managed to squeeze a part of her inside me and now I carry it wherever I go, whatever I do. She taught me the meaning of dignity, respect and most importantly, love. That is why I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart... and I only hope I am the same mom for my daughter as she has been for me.

-- Hara Ntokou

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2014 A15

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