The small universe of my life revolved around my mother. To me, she was perfect. I don’t remember her being angry with me, or using harsh words. She was the most beautiful of women. When she died of cancer at the age of 35, the foundations of my 5-year-old world were profoundly shaken. My grandmother was there, though, with my grandfather, to keep my world from falling to pieces. At 60 and 59, they assumed without question the responsibility of raising me.
I was 19 when my grandfather died, leaving my grandmother to see me through college, and on to graduate studies in Québec. She died ten days before my wedding to Jean Chabot, but had met him and he had won her heart. I’ve always felt that Gram had held on until she felt I was well launched in life, and her job was done. What a job it had been; from the birth of my mother in 1909 to her death in 1963, she was never without a child.
I believe firmly in a God Who never allows anything to happen to us that doesn’t contain a good in it, however difficult it may be to perceive that good. I lost my mother, but had a treasure in my Gram. When I came to Québec, I lived with Mme Royer, a widow with two daughters, a teenager, and one my age. All three treated me like a third daughter and sister. I was under the loving care of Mme Royer until my marriage, and gained my husband’s mother.
Maman was always there for me, encouraging, giving advice when asked. It took 2½ days for my first son to be born, and when Jean couldn’t be there, maman was. After Jean’s death in 1994, maman and I were a great comfort to each other. She left us in 1997.
The work of mothering is certainly not the easiest or most appreciated job in the world, but it is one of the two most necessary ones, the other being the work of fathering. Together, they form the foundation of any society. I salute and pray for those mothers who, due to circumstances beyond their control, must raise their children without the loving support of a husband. God gives the grace to do it, but it’s impossible to completely replace the role of a father. A child needs the different gifts of mother and father.
To all mothers and grandmothers, I wish a happy day, and may you find strength in the loving example of the mother of Jesus Christ.