Reflecting on Mothers

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: May 9, 2011

by Lianne Castelino

We had a wonderful Mother's Day, thanks for asking!  It wasn't the very thoughtful gifts, or incredibly sweet cards I received (made by lovely little hands), nor the card my husband gave me which made me bawl uncontrollably, nor was it the fact that it was a pristine day here with glorious sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.  It wasn't any one of these things that made it so special, though they all contributed.  

It was the time to reflect on what the day means, on the mothers' in my life who have moved and shaped me.  My own mom for starters, who is a woman of great strength, though very unassuming, a person who is exceptionally thoughtful, loyal and giving, who derives great joy from seeing others happy.  I aspire to be even a little like her every day.

In the course of doing less yesterday than a typical Sunday, I had the opportunity to think about my grandmother and mother-in-law, both of whom we lost 6 years and 1 year ago respectively.  

Both were women of exceptional strength who impacted countless people in their lives.  

I had a very special relationship with both women.  I was devestated when they both passed.  

My grandmother had been a widow for almost 60 years.  She persevered through all kinds of hardship including raising three children alone.  She was a strong character who was shaped in large part by the numerous challenges she had to overcome by herself.  

I remember writing and then delivering the eulogy at her funeral and remembering how much she impacted me.  She taught me how to bake, knit, crochet, draw, paint and countless other things.  She was also an avid writer and sports enthusiast — a career path I chose.  I didn't realize just how much of an imprint she left on me til the day I sat down to write her story and tell those gathered at the church about my grandmother.

My mother-in-law was a woman of quiet but steely courage, a nurse, mother of four, and one of 11 children.  She and I had too had a special relationship. We had similar interests — education, babies, and helping others, to name a few.  We were on the same wavelength — somehow I always knew what she was thinking and she, me.  Unassuming but so powerful.  The church overflowed for her funeral.  Family, friends, countless others whose lives she had touched as a nurse came to remember her that grey Saturday morning in 2010.  Her sudden passing left us all in shock.

We went to the cemetery yesterday (on Mother's Day) to visit my grandmother's gravesite.  We also remembered my mother-in-law whose ashes sit in a small urn beside her picture in our home.

It made me think how grandparents are largely overlooked in North American society, while in other cultures they are revered and respected for their knowledge and experience.  I subscribe to the latter mindset.  In many Asian cultures, which comprises part of my heritage, grandparents reside in the same house or block or street as the rest of their family.  What a rich experience for their children and grandchildren.

I see how my kids react to their own grandma, grandpa and grand-papa and it's a beautiful thing to witness.  The joy, delight, wonder and love from both sides — grandchild and grandparent — is truly one of life's most precious gifts.



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