Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Mother’s Day – A Mother’s Influence – May 13, 2012

CFN – Have any of you taken the time to watch Wyatt Walsh’s video on why he advertises on CFN? Turns out that his mother told him to do it because she thinks it’s a good source of news and should be supported by local business. I found it fascinating to watch a 57- year-old man tell the world that he listens to his mother and does what she asked him to do.


That is an eye-opener. I asked myself, when I am 57, will I do what my mother will ask me to do? Will I be responsive to her direction? What kind of questions will my mother be asking me then and will she even be here to ask any? I can only hope that I would be as responsive as Mr. Walsh because it’s obvious that he has respect for his mother: he mentions her age and tells us that she is now online reading the paper.


This pleases me because the Internet is a good way for elders to connect with others and have social support. Many elders are now on Facebook, catching up with old friends and chatting with them in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep. I encouraged my mother to get a computer and get into social media. It’s wonderful to see her supportive comments to her grand-children and the pictures she posts of the things that matter to her. What did we ever do without social media? Remember when we didn’t have it? I do.

My maternal grandmother lived her life in Chicoutimi, Quebec. She had eight children the first one of whom passed away shortly after birth. She raised her brood in a little house up on a steep cliff with the shoulder of another cliff rising behind it. Her life was full of hardship and bound by strict rules and unspoken social norms. A devoted Catholic, she took me to Mass at the Chicoutimi Cathedral.

I spent a lot of time with my grandmother because she was also my godmother, so she treated me with special care. I remember her with a deep sense of gratitude because she blessed my life with nurture. When we visited my grandparents’ place, we used to run up that sheer cliff and balance ourselves near the edge of a 40-foot precipice; sometimes there were wet spots and we slid. Miraculously, no one ever fell over the edge and dozens of children played there! While it’s nice to bring back these memories, let’s get back to how my grandmother communicated with anyone outside her home.

She either walked to the neighbours, got a ride once in a while to her sister’s or wherever my grandfather chose to take her, used the telephone or wrote letters. These were the only ways for her to reach out to her children once they scattered as adults. A phone call was only allowed once a month because of the expense. She lived a life of social isolation and passed away in a nursing home in 1995. She had made friends there and tried to be content with her life.   One of her beliefs was a deeply held conviction that if a person did something wrong it was because they lacked education. I believe that too – it rings true.

My grandmother was compassionate in that sense because she realized that people did what they knew how to do within their bounds of knowledge. We know so much more today than she knew when she was raising her children. I think that the Internet would have enriched my grand-mother’s life so much. Had a Skype connection been available in her nursing home, she could have spoken to her children more often and been able to interact with her grandchildren. She knew that it didn’t really matter how she communicated; the important thing to her was to be able to communicate.

Hopefully, this Mother’s Day your mother is able to communicate to those who are in her circle, hopefully her wishes are heard, appreciated and understood. No mother is perfect; however, don’t forget that without her you would not be here. Therefore she is owed that –  respect. Happy Mother’s Day to all, and I encourage you to get connected to your mother. Please encourage her to get online and open up her world to more possibilities for social support. It will enrich everyone’s life.

Thank you for your comments, dear readers. Kudos for being such fierce human rights advocates. What a great audience! Let me leave you with a song for Mother’s Day found through CBC’s music site.   I chose it because it reminded me of the many times I stood beside my grandmother during my childhood and handed her the clothespins while she hung up the bed sheets on the clothesline.

You can reach me at spiritmatters9@gmail.com

 Shirley Barr lives and works in Cornwall Ontario since May 2010 and is a member of the Baha’i community.

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1 Comment

  1. Beautiful heart warming article Shirley. I am so glad you are writing as you had aspired to some years ago.

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