The Medal She Deserves

I’m often asked what gave me the idea for my new novel, Lifelines. My answer inevitably reveals that one of the characters, Anna Fawcett, is largely modelled after my mother. Yes, she really is that wonderful!

Some years ago, Chatelaine, a Canadian women’s magazine, published a cover article called “Women We Love.” It featured the achievements of about twelve Canadian women of all ages. On the cover was one of them – Margaret Trudeau, and how she has coped with and overcome bipolar disorder (two failed marriages) and there were others who had been advocates and fundraisers for one non-profit organization or another. One young actress with a young baby had visited Africa and nursed a malnourished African baby, thereby becoming an advocate for breastfeeding. I realize the magazine couldn’t begin to formally recognize all of the hidden and obscure women who have made an impact on the world and so were limited to those whose accomplishments were well-known. But I had my own “Woman I Love” to honour.

Dear Chatelaine;

I read with anticipation your piece on “Women We Love” only to be disappointed to find not one tribute to a wife and mother. How narrow your focus was, heaping accolades only upon those women whose achievements are overt, public or materially measurable . What a sad commentary on our feminine culture to discover, after all, that only certain choices in a woman’s life are valid worthy pursuits. In fact, the message seemed to be that only those pursuits which are not traditionally feminine are worthy of honour.

Let me tell of a woman I love. My mother, Anne Krahn, never went beyond high school, yet instilled in her children a love of poetry, grammar, history, nature and classical music. She knew nothing of “save the earth” environmentalism yet frugally recycled and reused for decades before it was fashionable.

Mom never sculpted but on the impressionable clay of children’s minds and hearts, never created great works of art except for the flowers and food that went to bereaved and suffering neighbours.

No speaker’s bureau ever recruited my mother yet she is the best motivational speaker we know. Through the years, family, friends and near-strangers have called to hear her encouragement. Her patient listening and wise, loving counsel have sustained many and I’m pretty sure, saved at least one life.

In 60 years she has never earned an income yet she leaves a priceless legacy of encouragement and unconditional love. Living all those years in a small Manitoba community, primarily caring for her husband and family appears insignificant by your standards but four children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren and many relatives, friends and neighbours know differently.

Her husband with tears calls her his treasure, her family blesses her and the community honours her. Her daughters and granddaughters aspire to be like her.

There is no adequate temporal reward for a lifetime of integrity, love, joy, peace, faith, humour, patience, humility and self-control. If there were, many would give it to my mom.

Photo of Mom

A very happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

(Details on Lifelines here: http://www.eleanorbertinauthor.com )

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4 Responses to The Medal She Deserves

  1. jamcancon says:

    I agree that there are many unknown ‘women we love.’ Unfortunately, to help save the face of Chatelaine, these are the women who never say ‘look at me; see what I do; aren’t I great?’ And, no one does it for them, either. I guess that is why there is ‘Mother’s Day.’ And, then,too, there are the people who write books…………………..

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    • norskin says:

      Actually, that was precisely the point of my letter. The women the magazine featured were, in fact, in the public eye. My interest was in honouring those who make a contribution under the public radar.

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  2. Sandy wittenberg says:

    My Mother also leaves a priceless legacy- she has no high education, neither does she hold any degrees, but, she has 4 letters after her name, which give her the title of super chef, Nurse, Counsellor, Taxi-Driver, Tutor, Hair stylist, housekeeper, Lawyer, Financial Advisor! Her name is ERNA SUKKAU, L-O-V-E, and she’s MY MOTHER!!!

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