My mom. My hero. It has taken me so long to write this because she simply cannot be summed up in a few paragraphs, it’s not enough to do her justice, but I’ll try… It can’t be short, but I’ll try to make it good! This year my mom turns 65. A milestone. For most that means retirement. Maybe more golfing. Maybe driving the RV into the southern US for 6 months of sun. Maybe more lunches with friends, visits w grandkids. Not my mom.
At 65 she’s running a school and children’s home in Haiti and is in the process of adopting a 5yo child who is physically handicapped. The question most often asked is… how did she get there?
Growing up we lived a very middle class small town life. We lived in the Yukon where my Dad was a mining executive & my mom worked in the bank, then as the school secretary. Never did I see my mom in anything but dress clothes, never ever jeans, even at home her slippers were high heeled and fluffy – if you lived that era you know what I’m talking about! After school the baking would be laid out and often up to a dozen of us would tromp in, all of my friends hugging her and calling her mom. She’d listen, she’d advise, she’d let us be who we were. When my friend Susan & I were goofing around and dropped a weight through the glass topped coffee table (in a room we were NOT to play in) my mom didn’t yell, she simply asked us if we’d learned a lesson & helped us clean it up. When I destroyed the plastic cover of the record player (remember those?) by using the wrong cleaner on it, she simply thanked me for trying to clean. When I was a rebellious teen she set limits and stuck to them, even when my 2 weeks of grounding (repeatedly) were as hard on her as they were on me. She taught me how to be a good person, how to be understanding (still working on that one), how to be firm when it was required. How to be a mom!
Fast forward many years. My sister and husband went on a mission trip to Haiti and while there fell in love with a little girl they ended up adopting. My mom went down to meet her first grandchild. She saw the incredible need in Haiti, came home, packed her life into boxes in people’s basements and moved down. She was the type who wore high heeled slippers and screamed blue murder when she saw a bug, had many health problems including continual neck pain from a car accident years before and regular migraines….. She also had a heart as big as they come.
In Haiti she was in the poorest country in the western hemisphere, living in filth, surrounded by bugs, no access to medicines or a therapist for her pain, without access to her family and friends (no internet or phone access those many years ago) and was there solely to bring joy to others. She’s been there now 15 years. She founded a children’s home, then a school. She still works 16 hour days making sure that the people of Haiti are clothed, have food and education. She is ‘Mama’ to all the kids in the children’s home, and especially to one little boy, Ti Luc. When the local hospital asked her to take him he was a baby in bad shape whose mom had died after childbirth. She took him to see a ‘specialist’ who told her to throw him out – he had no brain, wouldn’t ever walk or talk and that there was nothing that could be done for him. She refused, she took him into her own home and mothered him. She loved him, exercised his limbs, talked to him, carried him everywhere despite the aching pain it caused her. He is now five, talking and just last month walked for the first time. The belief is that he has Cerebral Palsy, but there is no-one to diagnose that in Haiti. My mom’s love and devotion have brought Ti Luc and many other Haitian children to the place they are today and I honor that in her! Whenever I wish I had my mom around here for my kids and I, I remind myself that she turned me into the rock that I am today and that I can handle things here in my world, while she handles things there developing more ‘rocks’ that will go on to change their world.
Since the earthquake four months ago that damaged my mom’s home, she and Ti Luc have slept outside in tents while she waits for the blocks needed to allow her back into home. She picks the bugs out of her food and craves cheese and other things we take for granted here. She’d be kidnapped for ransom if she went outside the compound unguarded. She has a bullet hole in her fridge from the day she bought it and someone tried to kidnap her. She doesn’t complain, she doesn’t malinger. She simply picks up where she left off the day before and ‘does’. I learned my ‘bounce back’ from my mom. I learned ‘love who they are even when you can’t love what they do’ from my mom. I learned ‘be a friend to your kids & their friends, but never forget the limits’. I learned to be strong, loving, kind, giving & to have empathy for all those around me.
My mom was with me when I gave birth to my first two amazing children and she was the one who introduced me to my third child, a 6yo beautiful boy I adopted from Haiti 6.5 years ago. My mom is my angel. My mom is my rock. My mom is the Wind Beneath my Wings. Thank-you Mom! I LOVE YOU doesn’t seem like enough!