I always love hearing the origin stories of people’s careers—how and when they decided to do what they are doing. I’ve also long admired and been fascinated by people who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives at an early age and then had the will and ability to make it happen…in part because it took me so long to figure out what I wanted to do.
Back in 2007, when I was applying for graduate school, I had a telephone interview as part of the application process. The interviewer said, “Tell me about a person who inspires you and who you look up to.”
I didn’t have to think before answering: my mom.
Every day, she sets an incredible example of dignity and dedication to her family and friends.
She is also a Kennedy buff and a few years ago I gave her a memoir written by Mark Shriver about his father, Sargent. It is called A Good Man because, Mark wrote, that’s what people kept saying to him after his father died—that he was a good man—and he eventually realized how that phrase encompassed Sargent Shriver’s life of service to others.
That might also be the best way to describe mom…she is a good woman.
Now, back to career origins and the reason for this post—one of my favourite stories about mom:
When she was in school, her mother took her to a talk by Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche and a man often referred to as a living saint. Hearing Vanier speak about the inherent dignity of all humans helped inspire her to follow his lead and work with children with special needs.
She has spent her entire career working with children with special needs, not because it is easy or fun or because it pays a lot. She does it because she knows it is important that every person be treated with the same love and kindness no matter what abilities they have or don’t have. Not paying lip service to treating everyone the same, but actually doing it.
Her work is also a living expression of her faith and the Church’s teachings on the equal value and importance of every human life.
That is the example she sets for her children and grandchildren (even if we don’t always live up to it). She is a role model for me and for my brother and sisters and I’m sure she will be for her grandchildren, too.
Happy Mother’s Day, mom!