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My mother’s hands: a Mother’s Day reflection

Sister Terri holds her mother’s hand.

As I am writing this piece for Mother’s Day, my own mother is residing in a nursing home. Mom is 91-years-old and suffered a third stroke in December of 2021. This left her with little use of her right side including her right hand. I was caring for her at home for the last several years. And after this last stroke realized I could no longer physically or mentally give her the care that she needs. I continue to visit mom each day for about two hours in the evening. During that time I feed her supper, make sure she is comfortable for sleep and hold her hand. 

Her hands are now soft and smooth. But at one time they were rough and callused from hard work. As I reflect on the 71 years that I have known my mom, (well actually about 67 years of recalled memory), I am amazed at the many things her hands have done. She raised five children, helped my father physically build two houses from the basement up and remodeled several others. 

Working hands

In the 1960’s, my mother actually mixed the mortar that my father used to lay the bricks of our new house. During the building of that same house, I remember seeing her at nine months pregnant crawling through the open ceiling beams pulling electrical wires through to what would be the attic. My father had been ill but was able to guide her while sitting on a chair a floor below.

Sister Terri and her mother Irene

In the houses they remodeled, mom painted, wall papered and even used a hammer and nail where needed, all the time working side-by-side with my dad.

She also went on to establish a restaurant business. My parents purchased an old house and remodeled it into a working restaurant. With the help of a few of my brothers as short order cooks, she established a successful business. Once the restaurant opened, she was the personnel manager, bookkeeper and made the daily pies and soups. 

Mom was also a wonderful bread maker. Several times, I tried to follow her recipe for bread but never was able to develop a bread maker’s touch. Mom did all of this with just an eighth-grade education. She went to work at 15.

As the only daughter growing up with four brothers, I struggled with my relationship with my mom especially during my teen years. I was expected to help with the younger boys which often conflicted with the things I wanted to do.

As I grew into adulthood and left home to pursue my own dreams of becoming a teacher, I realized what wonderful life lessons I learned from my mom. Especially lessons about the importance of a strong work ethic and finishing what you have started. 

Other ways of mothering

As a teacher and later a principal, I loved working with children. I often wondered if I had missed out on anything in not having my own children. Then, during an evening of parent teacher conferences, I passed by two of the children sitting in the hall waiting for their parents to finish the conference. The one girl was a kindergartner and she was watching her little sister. As I walked by, she said, “That’s the mom of the school.” That little one’s comment put a smile on my face and affirmation in my heart; I too have mothered a child.

So, in closing this reflection I just want to say, if you are a mom of a brood of children, a doting aunt, a teacher or “a mom of the school,” I want to wish you all a very Happy Mother’s Day!

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Sister Theresa Ann Boland

Sister Theresa Ann Boland

Sister Theresa Ann (Terri) entered the Sisters of Providence in 1987. She has ministered as an elementary school teacher and principal. Sister Terri has taught every grade from second to eighth, but spent most of her time as a sixth grade teacher. Sister Terri considers herself an environmentalist and holds a master's degree in Earth Literary from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She is also a Master Gardener. Sister Terri loves getting down and dirty (in the Earth of course!)

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  1. Avatar Rosaline Secrest, PA on May 8, 2022 at 6:59 am

    What a lovely tribute to your mother, Terri, and in turn a reflection of the wonderful woman you are. I do remember how loving and encouraging you were to my grandchildren when you were principal of Sacred Heart school. Happy Mother’s Day to the mom of the school.

  2. Avatar Connie SP on May 8, 2022 at 9:37 am

    Thanks so much Terri for this most touching reflection. May you continue to cherish the time you still have with your Mother and feel held in the living arms of our Provident God.

  3. Avatar Sister Barbara Bluntzer on May 8, 2022 at 9:56 am

    Terri, I loved reading of your mother’s gifts and talents. If each of us could/would express our own Mother’s skills and talents as you did so well, what a great example for all YOUNG mothers of today that would be! And I hope that today’s teachers see the “motherly” role they play with the young people of today—-your words are very appreciated.

    • Avatar Donna Butler on May 8, 2022 at 4:47 pm

      Terri, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story. Your mother was not only strong but had such an array of talents. You are blessed to be able to care for her at this time in her life and I am sure she appreciates it.

  4. Avatar Mary Montgomery on May 9, 2022 at 8:43 am

    Terri, thank you very much for your beautiful tribute to your mom and the love and care you share every day every day! Sending love and gratitude, peace and joy.

  5. Avatar Lisa Stallings on May 9, 2022 at 11:47 am

    Beautiful reflection, Terri. Many thanks.

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