Mother’s Day is the one special day a year that we children, young and old, get to celebrate our moms. For the motherless children among us, the day can be bittersweet.

I am one of those children. My mother, Sheila Mary (Crowe) Morrissey, died from cancer in 1953 at the age of 43. I was three years old.

Although I was motherless at a very early age, I did not have an unhappy childhood. I was fortunate because I have a responsible and loving sister, Patti, who is fourteen years older than I, and she assumed some of the role of mother in my life. Also, I had an incredibly loving caregiver, Isabelle Moorhouse, who was present in my life from the early 1950s until 2005 when she died at 97. In addition, I was well loved and guided by father, John Morrissey, and three wonderful big brothers, John, Tom, and Paul.

The first time I can recall Mother’s Day was in first grade when my class started to make a special Mother’s Day work of art. My teacher was Sister Francis, a Dominican nun, at St. Raymond’s School in Providence, Rhode Island. The story that I want to share with you is a shining example of a teacher who was willing to take that extra step to help her student.

Death is a very uncomfortable topic for many people, especially the death of the mother of a young child. But, instead of ignoring my circumstances, Sister Francis chose to reach out to me and acknowledge my loss. Little did she know that what she did in our classroom that day made Mother’s Day a whole lot more bearable for me, not just that year, but every year. From that Mother’s Day on, I too had a special gift to give to my mother.

The gift from Sister Francis allowed me to express my feelings on Mother’s Day. I felt special because I was the only student in the class to receive this gift. I found this a most agreeable Mother’s Day solution and happily repeated the same format throughout elementary school when the time came to make our annual Mother’s Day art surprise.

I invite you to share my story in the hope that it might offer you comfort as well. I chose to have my story illustrated so that it can be read by both young children and adults.

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