Love letters to moms

Winnipeg women share lessons learned from their mothers


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For the first time in almost 30 years, trucking company owner Tasneem Vali will celebrate Mother’s Day by sitting down for a meal with her mom.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/05/2020 (991 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For the first time in almost 30 years, trucking company owner Tasneem Vali will celebrate Mother’s Day by sitting down for a meal with her mom.

Her mother Rabia Vali, a retired physician who lives in India, travelled to Winnipeg for the birth of a grandchild and has stayed on due to travel restrictions around the global pandemic.

For the Vali family, this Mother’s Day will be unusual because they can celebrate together after many decades apart. For most Winnipeggers, face-to-face visits may not be possible this weekend and they will honour their mothers another way.

Some families will honour their mothers right here. Several women from various sectors of the community shared lessons learned at home, examples set by their mothers, and how that wisdom came in handy during this time of physical distancing and staying at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. Their answers have been edited for length.

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JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Tasneem Vali and her mother Rabia Vali, who was visiting from India for the birth of a grandchild when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, will be together on Mother’s Day.

Rev. Cathy Campbell, priest of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, about her mother Mary C. Campbell, who died on April 23, 2020

After a significant debilitating stroke six year ago, almost every time I asked my mum, “How are you?” she would respond “Good enough.” Since her death, I wished I would have asked her, “Good enough for what?” I think she meant good enough for the day, for what she wanted or needed that day. I have wondered if I could say each day that I’m good enough for the day. I would like to live with that sense of enoughness each day. It’s interesting how such a simple phrase can become such a challenge.

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Cindy Gilroy, city councillor for Daniel McIntyre, about her mother Wendy Gilroy

My Mom never forgets a birthday, anniversary or other special event so her wisdom comes from making people feel special and like they’re the only person in the room. She values what others bring to the table and that all of us have special gifts and talents to share. During this time, I think it’s important to acknowledge all who are using their special gifts and talents to make sure we are safe and taken care of right now.

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‘I try to emulate my mother’s gentleness. When I see my mom, her soft strength makes me feel at ease — Brigette DePape, on her mom, Marcelle DePape

Brigette DePape, grants specialist, The Winnipeg Foundation, and poet, about her mother Marcelle DePape

I try to emulate my mother’s gentleness. When I see my mom, her soft strength makes me feel at ease. She is a butterfly gardener. With her hard work and patience, she is able to grow pink coneflowers, milkweed and lilies to attract monarchs and swallow tails. Her spirit is beautiful and gentle like the butterflies that land in her garden.

A lesson from my mom is that all happiness depends upon a leisurely breakfast. To me this means taking the time to start the day in a good, calm way. In our busy and fast-paced society, I love her reminder to appreciate the simple, everyday joys in life.

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TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files Rev. Cathy Campbell and her mother Mary Campbell, at Cathy’s retirement dinner in 2016.

Romona Goomansingh, university instructor and writer, about her mother Mona Goomansingh

I always feel amazingly blessed when I reflect upon the influence my mother has upon my entire life. She has taught me precious lessons in the spirit of helping others, giving back to the community and having a positive outlook towards life. A main motto for my mother is “You lift yourself up in life when you lift someone else up.”

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Jugnu Lodha, pharmacist, about her mother Manju Lodha

Her cooking is always original, nutritious, inventive and very delicious. During the pandemic I have learned to use the ingredients in my kitchen to make a healthy meal without going out to buy groceries. Cooking is an act of love that I’ve learned to enjoy from my very talented mom.

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SUPPLIED Romona Goomansingh with her mother Mona Goomansingh.

Edna Nabess, foster mother and owner of Cree-Ations & Artist Showcase about her mother Margie Nabess, who died in 2007

I sew for a living, making moccasins and mukluks, and my mother taught me to sew. If I make a mistake and I just want to go over it, I hear my mother saying, “Take it apart.” She would also say, “When you do something, you try to do it the best you can.” That’s what I tell my children and all the foster children I’ve raised. Do the very best you can this day and if you see someone who needs help, help them.

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SUPPLIED Edna Nabess with her five children.

Annette Trimbee, president, University of Winnipeg, about her mother Theresa Coulombe, who died in 2013

My mother made people feel welcome, comfortable and safe. She was the opposite of uppity: she was accessible. She said to me in her later years that what she loved most about me was that I did not let my degrees and fancy jobs get to my head. I am accessible too, but in a different way. I meet so many people in the roles I have. I am a good listener.

My mother taught me the value of sisterhood. She loved spending time with her sisters, sisters-in-law and sister friends. They had kids at the same time, shared mothering duties, were equally capable of baking up a storm or painting a house in a day, loved telling stories, playing bingo and playing cards. Her closest friend in her later years in B.C. was her Dutch sister-friend who lived a few blocks away from my childhood home in Transcona. I have sister-friends from university, high school and even elementary school that I stay close to.

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Tasneem Vali, co-owner Interland Carriers, about her mother Rabia Vali

My mom is the most resilient, compassionate and intelligent person I know. She comes from a family of nine siblings and so always had to share. I have learned from her example that things are never important as people and relationships. I have learned to be content with whatever I have as long as I am among those I love and care for.

My mom just retired at 72 last year. She is a physician and her wisdom during this pandemic is that hygiene goes a long way, (use) soap and water and then hug.

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SUPPLIED Annette Trimbee (back row, far right) beside her mother Theresa Coulombe, daughter Gillian Wilson (pink shirt) and some of her sisters, nieces and grandnieces, who make up her sisterhood.

Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud, executive director, 1JustCity, about her mother Brenda Blaikie

My mom always cooked for the neighbourhood and often many of our friends came for dinner. Some came for fun and some came because there wasn’t one happening at their home. This extension of care to the wider community inspires me everyday in my work at 1JustCity.

Friends I’ve lost touch with continue to check in on my mom from time to time because of the impact of her love and support to folks well beyond her family. During the pandemic this keeps me grounded in gratitude and (influences) my ability to give back right now, and always.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud and her mother Brenda Blaikie.
Brenda Suderman

Brenda Suderman
Faith reporter

Brenda Suderman has been a columnist in the Saturday paper since 2000, first writing about family entertainment, and about faith and religion since 2006.

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