Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether or not there are no words to explain how important someone is to you. Sometimes explanations can’t tell the whole story. Sometimes you just have to explain anyway.
Today marks the 13th anniversary of my mother’s death. She died suddenly one day, without much warning, of what was likely a stroke. She was 71.
Eight months earlier, she (and I) had lost the other hero in my life, my dad. As an only child, for me, that was it. While I had other relatives from her generation and had wonderful relationships with many of their friends, my connection to what I was was now gone, poof, like that. And I haven’t been able to get it back.
Her name was Ruth McVay and was born on May 5 1924 and grew up in the Smith Hill section of Providence, a mostly Irish and Jewish neighborhood. She was the youngest of five children of James H. and Lilian Rose O’Neil. Irish Catholics.
What amazed me was that nothing seemed to damped her spirit. She lost her dad at the age of 15 and her own mother at the age of 18, yet she spent a lifetime remembering and loving them. And this young part of her life, of course, meant that she grew up during the depression.
Yet she has that spunk, that indefatigable Irish spirit, that belief in live and those around her – especially in me – that makes life so wonderful.
When she was 19 – a year after losing her own mother – she began working at a construction company. That’s where she stayed for 53 years. Fifty three years. People usually don’t last in the same job for 53 months these days. She was, at least starting out, the only non-Italian in the place. That could be a tough thing.
But it wasn’t. Not with Cardi Corporation and the Cardi family. They are now my family. Loyalty was a two way street back then.
My parents married in 1954. It took them seven years to finally have me. Throughout my life, they always made me feel as if I was worth the wait.
My mom taught me charity. She was the one who would walk around the neighborhood collecting for the March of Dimes.
She taught me about me legacy, about to never to sully our name.
She taught me a love for our country – and inspired in me a passion to learn and deeply value the progress of freedom. That’s probably a major reason why I ended up in Washington DC.
She (along with my dad) taught me the love of children. Because she loved me so much. And she was a second mom to most of my friends.
And she gave me an inner strength, a strength that I so needed just a few months later in a most tragic situation. If I didn’t have that strength, I don’t know how I would have managed.
She was one of the strongest, most passionate, most beautiful persons I’ve ever known. She was my mom and I miss her every day.