And why we admire them so much
Moms do everything for us. Their children are the reason they smile during nine not-too-comfortable months, and why they still smile after a painful delivery. Even for those moms who may not have gotten pregnant in their bodies, they did in their hearts, and their children were delivered out of the sweetest desire to become a mother.
This month of May, when we celebrate Mother’s Day, we want to honor all the moms out there who give it all for their children. Long nights when they are sick, happy meals at home that only mom can cook a favorite way, unforgettable vacations, memorable birthdays, and the warmest hugs are just some of the things only a mom can make special.
Their love transcends time, distance, suffering, sacrifice, and, in some cases, sadly, forgetfulness from their offspring. As cliché as it might sound, the love of a mother is not comparable to any other feeling. They have the ability to multitask to make their family happy.
Alexandra Rossi and mom, Gloria Morell
An example is my mom, Gloria Morell, who passed away 17 years ago. She was a single mom with a full-time job, who also made time to cook gourmet dinners for me, sew my clothes, help me with homework, clean the house, and smile even when things were not going very well. I didn’t appreciate her discipline back then, but I give thanks for it now, as I am the person I am today because of her.
We asked a few Restonians who greatly contribute to the community on a daily basis to share with us their admiration for their moms. In their testimonials, we can see that their moms, through their love and encouragement, played a vital role in the outstanding individuals they have become now.
Leila Gordon and her mom, Bettsy El-Bisi
“My mom remains my most admired example of a woman who perseveres. Bettsy El-Bisi raised six children, was an artist and advocated passionately for progressive causes her entire life. Her skills and talent were boundless; she could paint, build, sew, wallpaper, slip-cover, plant and grow anything. Every house we moved into became a beautiful home filled with art and color. With her creative instincts, she transformed places and things that most people just overlooked – whether it was an old beat-up chair or a run-down house – and turned them into objects of desire. We moved often – every time we did, the value of the house we sold far exceeded its purchase price because of what she did to it. When we said goodbye to one home, her artwork going up on the walls of a new one was the first sign to us that we’d be happy and comfortable, even if we felt displaced by the move.
“More than all of these admirable qualities though, what I found the most remarkable about my mom was her resilience. She wasn’t relentlessly happy – in fact, she battled depression and her life was never easy. Regardless, she found the energy and will to love her children, to release her emotions on canvas and in paint, to make things that needed making, and to see the humor and absurdity in life.
Her laugh was like a burst of sunlight in a forest – sparkly, welcoming, bright and nourishing. I miss her and love her still every day.”
– Leila Gordon, executive director, Reston Community Center
Chuck Veatch and his mom, Nona
“My mom was smart, funny, energetic, and totally devoted to our family. She grew up on a hardscrabble farm in rural Colorado with four sisters and a brother and no indoor plumbing. She had near photographic memory, graduated from high school at 16, and left home at 17 to attend nursing school in Denver, paying her way working as a substitute teacher. She married my dad and started a family, and in 1941, they moved to Virginia, where I was born a year later. From my earliest memories, our house was the ‘clubhouse’ for every kid in the neighborhood. Think ‘little rascals,’ which later became ‘big rascals,’ and my mom was in the middle of all the action. If a child was missing, the parent generally called our house first. It wasn’t just boys—the girls would come and talk to her about things they couldn’t talk about with their mothers. She was a great listener.
“Long after my brothers and I were out of the house, friends of ours would stop by to say hello or introduce wives and girlfriends to Mrs. Veatch.
“My mother hated cruelty in any form. We were always taught to be kind and generous to ‘those less fortunate.’ There are many stories of her quiet but, on at least two occasions, direct physical intervention when someone was being abused. As a true stay-at-home mom of her generation, she never had a driver’s license. The world she most cared about came to her. Happy Mother’s Day!”
– Chuck Veatch, Reston’s first residential sales manager (1964)
Karen Cleveland and her mom, Jeanne Kelly
“I love spending time with my mom and helping her check things off of her bucket list. She has always been there for me and is the reason I’ve dedicated my life to helping the underserved. My mom taught me to never judge others, always be true to myself, and remember that nobody is better than me. I am better than nobody and will always be there for those around me.”
– Karen Cleveland, president, Leadership Fairfax
Maggie Parker and her mom, Peg
“My mom was an accomplished woman of great intellect, warmth, and compassion. Peg and my dad, Tom, were terrific, raising and educating five children and contributing to all aspects of societal and civic change in post-World War II New England.
“Always one to entertain, to bring people together, and to share, she left this message to us, found in her cookbook, ‘Always remember there’s room at the table for one more, whether hungry or just lonely. Love to all.’”
– Maggie Parker, director of communications and public outreach, Comstock
“I believe my mom, like all moms, represents the best part of who our family is. My mother Maggie is hard-working, loving, and caring beyond all measures. She is hands-down the most selfless person I know. She brings positive and meaningful change to individuals all around her 365.25 days a year and I wish her only the best this 2017 Mother’s Day!”
– Joe Crawford, executive director, YMCA Fairfax County Reston
Kerrie Wilson and her mom, Bonnie Bunting
“Growing up in a military family, the oldest of five Navy ‘brats,’ instilled in me early the importance of service and the power of community. My father was out to sea up to six months of the year, and my mother and the other Navy wives filled the void with potluck suppers and movie nights. They shared carpooling and babysitting, and they kept a watchful eye on each other’s children. I’m not sure how my Mom did it all—raising five children nearly on her own while still finding the time to volunteer at church and at school, and teaching literacy on the base. As an officer’s wife, my mother was counselor to younger wives struggling to take care of babies and manage finances on their own—just as she had been mentored. Moving every two years, saying goodbye to friends and starting over in a new place was not easy. My mother worked hard to help us adjust, unpacking boxes to surround us with familiar items and traditions that quickly made every place the home we remembered. When we moved to Virginia after my father’s final tour, my mother went back to teaching and still runs into former students who tell her how much she meant to them. Today, she is as important to my children’s and grandson’s lives as she is to mine. My mother—Bonnie Bunting—exemplifies love of family, service, and sacrifice, and she taught me what community is all about.”
–Kerrie Wilson, CEO, Cornerstones
Pat Macintyre and her mom, Florence Holt
“I was nine when I became an artist. My mom was in the hospital, and I drew a picture of a cartoon character—Woody Woodpecker—as a get-well card for her. All the doctors and nurses raved about it, and when she came home, she encouraged me to become an artist. Always listen to your mother!”
– Pat Macintyre, artist and owner, Reston Art Gallery
Mark Ingrao and his mom, Jean
“What I admired the most about my mom was her work ethic. I learned from her that if you wanted something bad enough, you had to put in the time and effort to achieve it. My mom exemplified that because she became the first women elected to an officer position in the AFL-CIO with a little more than a high school education. For those who knew her, she was direct and suffered no fools. She was successful in male-dominated business and knew how to navigate the political waters of the labor movement. She accomplished all this while being a wonderful mother to my brother and me and a loving wife to my dad. My parents were married for 42 years until her untimely death at age 64, and to this day, I still draw from her strength and think of her every day!”
– Mark Ingrao, president, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce