Inspired by Mom

My mother likes Maya Angelou.

She likes her so much that she adopted the name Maya as her name for “Grandmother”. To my children, she is Maya. To me, she is Mom.

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” —Maya Angelou

Well Maya, I am going to try to describe my Mom anyway.

My mother has done some things in her life that have particularly awed and inspired me. I have been pondering of late how to write about some of these things; what better day than Mother’s Day?

Although I could recount multitudes of stories of the hurricane force of Mom, I have chosen just this one as a representation of courage and perfect power. Many years ago my mom developed an interest in ophthalmology so she upgraded her education to specialize in ophthalmic nursing. In 1989 started up an NGO that offered corrective eye surgeries (primarily cataracts) in developing countries, restoring sight to the blind. Understand that she also worked full time at her local hometown hospital, the Cornwall General, and ran the NGO as a volunteer on her own time, travelling abroad for weeks at a time. As a Registered Nurse, she was underrecognized, always in the shadows of the more highly acclaimed (though no more accomplished!) doctors. But this never stopped her! The goal of her efforts was to offer the gift of sight to those who were too poor to afford eye surgery. This was her gift and her passion. She has run CAN.S.E.E. for over 20 years, with my Dad providing admin backup and holding down the fort at home. The organization has now shifted to providing funding for primary school child education.

Mexico (women wearing post surgical eye patches)
Ghana (children immediately after eye patch removal)

The many splendored colors of the Mom rainbow are also too numerous to recount here, so I have chosen 2 examples of the rainbow beauty.

We all know that rainbows only appear with rain. When my cousin Susan died last year my mom was right there quietly helping, supporting the family; even helping with basic nursing care to ensure Susan’s maximum comfort during her last hours: the rainbow in the midst of the storm. Susan’s sister remarked to me a few weeks later that she was deeply appreciative and touched by the amount of time that my mom devoted to being with them during Susan’s last days. She reflected with wonder that she hadn’t known this beautiful side of my mother and now hoped that she would come to know her better.

This past winter while in Florida, Mom met a woman from her own hometown, Cornwall, Ontario. This woman has a 97 year old mother named Winnie in Cornwall, though the woman herself doesn’t live there. My mother offered to check in with Winnie periodically simply because she enjoys helping people. She recently took Winnie out grocery shopping, and a few other things: Mom and Winnie spent a happy afternoon cruising about the city, gambling*, picking up hot men**, and blasting rock ‘n roll with the windows down***. Ninety seven year old Winnie, with her petite stature, could hardly see over the dashboard as they cruised about the town reminiscing about old neighborhoods and “the old days”.  Again, understand here that my mother is an active, busy woman with lots of friends; she’s  not bored and lonely and looking for company. She just enjoys helping others and Winnie was the recipient of a showering of glorious rainbow colors.
*      “gambling” consisted of Winnie redeeming her $8 worth of winnings from her lottery
**    “picking up hot men” was actually picking up my Dad to drop him off at the gym
***  “blasting rock ‘n roll with the windows down” was entirely fictional (but it sounds
         good, don’t ya think?)


I can’t even begin to describe the love, care, attention and silliness that she (and my Dad!) devotes to her 2 grandchildren! I will let the pictures speak for themselves here.




These are but a few small anecdotes of my mother’s life, but they characterize her inbuilt desire to help others. Why do these things inspire me so much? I think because they are such selfless acts.  She has always tried to instill in me a spirit of gratitude and she demonstrates her own gratitude for her health and well being by loving others through acts of service and kindness. She is indeed a “hurricane in its perfect power” when sets her mind to it! And the rainbow shines bright.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you.

Mom showering a little rainbow love on me (she made me a rainbow cake!)


Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing. ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~Honoré de Balzac

6 thoughts on “Inspired by Mom

  1. Your Mother’s Day tribute to me is as beautiful as you are. I am speechless, and of course as usual shedding tears of gratitude and joy. Thank you my amazing daughter.

  2. Hello. I was fortunate enough for your mom to forward your Mother’s Day notes to me. For knowing your parents for such a short time has been a geat addition to my life. Her quiet kindness has given me more peace of mind. Her Mother’s Day visit with flowers to Winnie really showed me how fortunate you are. You see I am Winnie’s daughter.

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