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The Gifts She Gave, An Ode to Me Ma

When I think about the times when I was truly impressed by my Mom, few moments stand as boldly in my mind as the hours, days and months after my brother John was born.

One of the most important and seemingly perpetual things that we do at Opportunity Knocks is recognize and embrace the people that support us.

It’s a little easier to keep track of the here and now and thank the people who are there, then. The harder part of this job is to remember the people who helped get you where you are. Those are the people you can’t forget. They were there when it was hardest. Invariably, they will be there again when it gets even harder. This is not always the largest group of supporters, but as impact goes, there are no bigger.

So I thought, what better a time than on Mother’s Day to offer a few words to recognize and thank the most important person, my Mother.

When I think about the times when I was truly impressed by my Mom, few moments stand as boldly in my mind as the hours, days and months after my brother John was born. Johno was born with Down Syndrome. He was also born with a poorly performing pair of kidneys.

I remember sitting across from her, as she and my Dad called all four of the brothers together. I sat cross-legged in front of her and listened as she explained that John had Down Syndrome.

I was 8 years old, so to say that I had any profound moments of clarity then and there would be a stretch, but I can tell you that I remember that there were teary eyes in that room. Hers were not among them. And for some reason, neither were mine. She gave me something in that moment. It was her composure and resolve and I carry both with me still. With the coolest of calm, she told us flat out, here is what is, now let’s deal with it.

Maybe the most lasting impressions she made came over the next few months as she taught us about strength and faith and perseverance. In those months after John was born we went through some of our hardest times. John’s kidneys failed and for a period of time we weren’t sure he would survive.

Two things were constant in that hospital room for those months, the life support machines and my Mom. She was relentless. Even in all the years I’ve spent in my profession as a Paramedic, I still have not come across a fiercer patient advocate.

Her advocating for John in those first few months was just the beginning of a long line of battles that she and we, at times, fought in on John’s behalf. In respect for attention spans, I’ll keep a long story short. The doors weren’t always open for Johno and there weren’t too many people creating opportunities for my brother. Not until Nonie got there anyway! She was fearless in facing up to the norms and that changed the whole way I operate.

I could go on and on about the reasons and stories behind my admiration for my Mother. I didn’t even mention that she managed to raise four other boys in front of Johno. I certainly did not mention all of the grief one of her boys gave her during his teenage years. God was surely keeping score during those years and I’m betting she’ll be rewarded for her patience. Plus I try to tell her sorry for all that at least once a week.

My brother Michael and I have always said that my brother Johno inspired the mission of Opportunity Knocks. He certainly did his part. But I think it is just as safe to say that the ideals behind our mission were created by a lifetime of examples set by our Mother.

Sunday May 13th is Mother’s Day. Much like most of you out there who are appreciating your mothers, the Carmody Family will shower our Mother(s) with flowers cards, gifts and the adoration they deserve.

But how about after Sunday?

Here’s a thought, in the days, weeks and months between this Mother’s Day and the next, try and find some time to recognize and appreciate all that your mom has truly done for you. Even if she is no longer with us, realize what she did for you and find a way to recognize and pay tribute to her impact.

Maybe it is something as simple as calling her once a week. Even if you know she is going to tell you some of the same stories for the third time (Sorry, Ma. j/k). Or maybe you take a few minutes to speak up to her. I bet she’s listening.

My Mom gave me some pretty special gifts. She gave me my composure and resolve. She helped me find my faith and led me to where I could discover my grit, strength and courage. She showed me how to care about people, unconditionally. She taught me about what patience was and how important it is. She also taught me the value of family and community. I can’t thank her enough, for those and so many more gifts that she gave me. I could probably do better in trying though. So let’s get started.

I am lucky to have you as a Mother and I am forever grateful for all that you have given me. Thank you, Noreen for being such an outstanding human. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day!

P.S. Dear Dad, Don’t feel slighted in all of this. After all, today is not Father’s Day. Thanks to you too though, Big Guy.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Noreen Carmody May 14, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Whoa! Thanks Phil. What an amazing Mother's Day gift! It is not often that a child puts into words what you have. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and thanks for realizing what not just me, but your Dad, too tried to do for John and never forget what John has done for all of us. I love you. Mom

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