James and Kate’s Great-grandmother (Kirschner) Barton was a precinct committeemen along with her husband in the 1950’s. She raised six boys and adopted a niece. She was running the “little old ladies” to the doctor well into her eighties. Great-grandmother (Beals) Stone threw her husband out of the house in the 1950’s because he drank too much and gambled their money away. She raised two girls without a husband in a time when that meant doing without just about everything; but she taught her girls a lesson about strength and priorities. Great-grandmother (Pineau) Shea immigrated to this country from Prince Edward Island and when her sister stole her purse to try and keep her in Boston, she boarded the bus and convinced the bus driver to take her to Brooklyn—literally with the clothes on her back. Great-grandmother (Craig) Cassidy spent an extra day on Ellis Island because her brother forgot to pick her up. She also brought her Old World culture with her, teaching her grandchildren about fairies that she had seen with her own eyes no matter what others would say.
My wife’s mom started a preschool here in Arizona over twenty years ago. She worked on Wall Street. She took care of her mother and raised her kids. She is a ball of energy that there is no way I can keep up with. My mom has taught the severely and profoundly mentally handicapped as well as children with learning disabilities. She has shown those children the same limitless compassion she as show my brothers and me. Out of the classroom, she is also their advocate, always looking out for their rights.
James and Kate’s mom is a woman of uncompromising standards, particularly when it comes to the pursuit of academic excellence. She loves learning as much as she loves teaching. She brings integrity to her work whether her students are adults seeking a certification or a three-year old learning her letters.
Add to this list the many female role models Kate has at church (I seriously do not have space to begin listing them), it is obvious to see how blessed she is to have so many examples. Sometimes I forget to consider how lucky James is as well. When you have a mother and father that are partners in their marriage, when you see a mother who is not only intelligent but intellectually curious, when you see strength to go along with your mother’s compassion that is the relationship you seek out as an adult. I guess my point is that for both Kate and James, one of the greatest gifts their mother has given them is to make it likely that their kids will also have a mother like her.