My mom grew up in a tiny village in County Mayo, Ireland on a farm with no running water or telephone. They milked the cows, churned the butter, cut the turf from the bog to burn for heat, and fed the chickens who gave them eggs. They didn’t have a lot of money but they had a dictionary and lots of love. My grandma valued education although she didn’t get the chance herself, and she rode her bike six miles to a convent school in another town to register my mom to attend classes there after she graduated from the local school house. My mom’s brothers sent money home while working in England for my mom to go to that school. I am in awe of my grandma for knowing to do this and for making it happen.
In later years my mom applied to be trained as a nurse in England. When accepted, she was nervous to go so far away, but her mom told her to follow her dream so she did. This led to her becoming a nurse and a trained midwife, travelling to Canada for a year where she met my dad, and the rest is history. Her 40-year nursing career brought her immense joy and countless patients and mothers with new babies were forever grateful for her care.
This week my mom will be honoured as Toronto’s Mayo Person of the Year. She never forgot her roots and she brought my brother and I back to Ireland many times when we were young so we would know our family and our backstory. Even though she didn’t have the budget to do it. Those invaluable trips are seared in my memory and define the person I am today. I am forever grateful.
I can’t imagine going so far from home at such a young age during a time when communication was scarce and travel was trying. But my mom decided she wanted to follow her heart and she did.
No matter where you are starting from, there is one equalizer and that is your dreams. They are born inside you and action is the key to making them come true. As Joseph Campbell once said, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
Are we willing to say yes? The adventure of a lifetime awaits.
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