My Mom is A Hero of Mine

I don’t have any men heroes (I think I’m changing that notion as my sons grow older, but that’s another story). My dad died when I was nine, and after that I took little interest in what men had to say. If the latter comment is connected to the first I have not found a way to break that link.

My mom is a hero of mine. She has passed, a few years ago, at the age of 97, perhaps a year or two longer than she should have stayed, but until then she lived a full life that any “demi-god” would be proud of—I believe ‘heros’ means just that, demi-god.

She became a teacher with only a high-school education, and when barely a young-woman, left her home and family to teach in various Newfoundland communities; gone for nine, ten months at a time, she went among strangers, lived with one of those families, and instructed their children on a day-to-day basis; she was a missionary of sorts in those days of no roads, cars, television, or electricity.

She met by dad in Brent’s Cove, and somewhere in her early thirties they married, and even then she moved away for a year to take a teaching position in another community, before returning to Brent’s Cove to settle in. Her first two children died at a very young age – the cost of being so isolated from hospitals, though one of them died in a hospital where he had gone to be treated for a bad case of eczema, a strange mystery death that is now lost to the times.

I was given last rites by the local priest, but miraculously (now painful for the rest of the world?) began to breathe again, and somehow made it this far.

Long before I judged her a hero (heroine does not seem appropriate, that word denotes the premise of a Wonder Woman movie) she had done what most women could not in that time period—go her own way, and do her own thing.

She had but a short time with my dad before he died; she saw no reason for us to remain in the small fishing community (that’s a story in itself that begs to her heroism, but I would rather leave it buried) after his death,  and so we moved the big city, St.John’s, an incredible move for baymen(women)—a widow and two children. She found a teaching position; you should have seen how bad the pay was then for women as compared to now(yes, uphill both ways).  She took in ‘boarders’ to bridge the need-versus-have gap, taught school, and hobbled about on her one-good foot (Yes, another story) to ensure my sister and I where educated, clothed and cared-for.

We stayed in St. John’s for five years, and mom decided she would head-off to Montreal as the teaching job in St. John’s was not enough to sustain us. In Montreal she found an apartment, a teaching job, and there we settled in. She was mid-forties by then. The world was evolving quickly in the sixties, more women in the work place, the Cuban crisis, hippies, and changing times. Her school required better teaching qualifications.

So, she worked all day, bused it down to McGill at night, came back, corrected papers for the next day of classes where she taught, and woke up early to take another bus to her students. This she did for years as she earned her degree from McGill University.

She was forced to retire early(yet another story; demi-gods have lots of stories) and spent a good deal of the rest of her life traveling, always alone, always made friends, and always laughed at the wonderful times the traveling provided.

She was a self-made woman, one of a hearty crowd that sprung forth form the early settlers in Newfoundland.

Happy hero’s day, Mom!


She hid her strength behind a smiling face

Her noble nature sat on equal with everyone

Never looking down

No manner of jealousy or envy made her look up

She was who she was

Nothing more nothing less

A true creature of the planet

Who followed her own path

Yet making sure that others were not left behind