In Cel­e­bra­tion of Moth­ers and Fa­thers

Tak­ing time to love those who love us so dearly

Times of the Islands - - Home & Garden - BY PAULA MICHELE BOL ADO

For many restau­rants around the na­tion, Mother’s Day is the busiest day in the busi­ness. Greet­ing card com­pa­nies cash in on the oc­ca­sion with mes­sages that fit ev­ery sit­u­a­tion and florists rush to com­plete or­ders—even though Anna Jarvis, who in 1908 es­tab­lished the present form of Mother’s Day in the United States, never in­tended such com­mer­cial­iza­tion.

Yet TV vi­gnettes de­pict a fam­ily ar­riv­ing at a spe­cial brunch, with the rev­er­ent ma­tri­arch lean­ing on a loved one’s arm. Once seated, she can or­der any­thing, in­clud­ing that slice of cheese­cake cov­ered in rasp­berry sauce, be­fore wip­ing a tear as she reads her Hall­mark card.

And about a month later, we cel­e­brate dad on Fa­ther’s Day with the same ex­ul­ta­tion. He’s por­trayed in a tra­di­tional out­door sport with the chil­dren or fish­ing on a dock around sun­set, and later eat­ing a juicy steak be­fore open­ing his heart­felt card.

The ideas be­hind cel­e­brat­ing Mother’s Day and Fa­ther’s Day were born out of set­ting aside a day to ac­knowl­edge and ap­pre­ci­ate the hard work, love and sup­port from the most im­por­tant peo­ple in our lives.

In to­day’s chang­ing times, we see com­mer­cials de­pict­ing two dads or two moms, in­ter­ra­cial fam­i­lies, blended fam­i­lies, guardians and sin­gle par­ents. These ads truly re­flect real life. Chil­dren, no mat­ter what age, are en­cour­aged to ex­press their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for such fam­i­lies, shed­ding old stig­mas and res­ur­rect­ing the true mean­ing of tak­ing time to love those who love us so dearly.

As a sin­gle mom, and hav­ing lost a par­ent be­fore be­com­ing one, Mother’s Day has been an im­por­tant hol­i­day to me, when I

The ideas be­hind cel­e­brat­ing Mother’s Day and Fa­ther’s Day were born out of set­ting aside a day to ac­knowl­edge and ap­pre­ci­ate the hard work, love and sup­port from the most im­por­tant peo­ple in our lives.

can re­mem­ber my mother and grand­mother—and be ap­pre­ci­ated by my son. I have shed a few tears af­ter read­ing the cards my son has given me each year, as his hand­writ­ing evolves into neater script and cor­rectly spelled words.

My step­fa­ther, who adopted me, has al­ways taken my son to pick out flow­ers or plants that I can place in my gar­den. And one month later, we cel­e­brate him with cards, rasp­berry-filled choco­lates and movie ex­cur­sions. We are one of those no-longer-unique non­tra­di­tional fam­i­lies.

The men who have stepped in to take on the roles of fa­ther fig­ures in sin­gle moth­ers’ lives de­serve to be rec­og­nized as much as the women who have also stepped in as mother fig­ures in the lives of sin­gle fa­thers. Blended fam­i­lies are no longer un­com­mon in our so­ci­ety and chil­dren have an op­por­tu­nity to rec­og­nize the col­lec­tive sup­port of those who are help­ing to raise them.

My step­fa­ther, who I have called “Keith” since I was 5 years old, is now “Grampa.” He serves as both grand­par­ents for my son be­cause my mom passed away be­fore Ai­den was born. He is one of those men who came into our lives—with­out any chil­dren of his own—and be­came our main sup­porter, healer and glue in our small fam­ily.

We had our dis­agree­ments, as he is a trim car­pen­ter by trade and thus a straight-for­ward man who thinks lin­early and not ab­stractly like I do. But he in­tro­duced me to Neil Young and The Bea­tles, taught me gui­tar, put up a bas­ket­ball hoop out­side our stilt house on Sani­bel Is­land, taught me to ride my bike and taught me to drive.

I did not truly un­der­stand what love for a woman looked like un­til I saw him change the dress­ings of my mother’s wound from breast can­cer, or change the tubes needed to drain out the tox­ins, and pray be­side her. I knew he re­ally loved her.

I knew he re­ally loved me when I asked him ner­vously a week af­ter her pass­ing, “What are you go­ing to do?” I was think­ing that he would now be able to leave if he wanted to.

In­stead of the re­sponse I dreaded, he said, “We are go­ing to get through this to­gether and take care of each other.” And he has not only taken care of me, but has been there for my son—his grand­son. This is the kind of fa­ther—like so many oth­ers—who de­serves cel­e­bra­tion.

So, how­ever we choose to cel­e­brate these days— and who­ever we choose to cel­e­brate—I am grateful for the love I have seen in my own fam­ily, and grateful for the tra­di­tions we choose to keep that sup­port this love and feed our souls.

Paula Michele Bo­lado is a free­lance writer and pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tor liv­ing in South­west Flor­ida.

Writer Paula Michele Bo­lado (right) and her son, Ai­den, pose with step-grandma Gail and grand­fa­ther Larry Bo­lado.

A note from North Car­olina-based friends of Paula Michele Bo­lado says: “Last year on Mother’s Day, we came home from the hospi­tal with our hands and hearts full with this dar­ling girl. This year, we want our Mother’s Day to be about en­joy­ing our...

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