It has been roughly three and a half months since I last published an editorial on WhatsUpNewp. In that absence, I spent a month living and working in St. John, came back home to Newport and settled back into my daily routine. While away in the Caribbean, I flirted with the notion of publishing an experimental series of editorials that unfortunately fell flat and the idea never became a reality.
Throughout this time, no one has pressed me harder to start writing again than my mother. Anytime an article of mine was published last year, she was my most stern critic and at the same time, my biggest fan.
As a teacher, minor grammatical errors are seemingly nails on a chalkboard for her and trust me, she is not shy about highlighting the lapses in my literature. Whether it is an issue with tense or picking apart aspects of my prose, it was almost inevitable that I’d be hearing from the boss if a mistake had been overlooked.
However, no one has supported my writing more than my mother. When I first told her that I would be writing a weekly column for a local publication, she was thrilled. Although I work a job I love, stay up to date with contemporary events and try to be active in my local community, I wasn’t challenging myself intellectually nor using many (if any) resources that my educational career had rendered me.
Writing an opinion-based column is not necessarily cognitive overload, but it is an opportunity for me to use my education and share my thoughts with others. Regardless of how passionate I am over a certain issue or how strong my opinion may be about a particular topic, it’s the fact that I am expressing myself through a creative medium that brings a smile to her face. Which brings me to the premise for this editorial…
Mother’s Day is a special day for so many amazing women. It is an opportunity to honor those who brought us into this world and raised us to be who we are today. Mother’s Day holds a significant place in my heart especially, as my relationship with my mother is so special and so unique. It’s a relationship that I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world and I am happy to share a piece of our story with you today…
In 2000, my father lost his battle with lung cancer. At the time of his death, I was ten years old and my brother Trevor was eight. We were too young to truly understand the situation and the ramifications that came with losing a parent at such a young age. My mother made sure that we were surrounded with loving friends and family during this time of confusion and grief. Although she was dealing with the reality of losing her husband, she remained steadfast and strong for Trevor and I. She never wore her emotions on her sleeve during those first few years, while at the same time encouraging us to do just that.
We were blessed to have so many amazing people who helped us through that period of our lives, including a number of women who cared for my brother and I as if we were their own. For those of you reading this editorial and without using specific names, we appreciate everything and love you all very much.
The teenage years for the Bernadyn brothers were fun-filled but trying at times. I was a punk to say the least, an attitude to which this day I still apologize to my mom for possessing. Trevor and I quarreled, as brothers do, and we know now how much that broke her heart. Nonetheless, my mother gave us everything she had, day in and day out. She never missed a sporting event. She drove us to countless AAU tournaments around the country. She was always the loudest parent in the gym (which is something we were not necessarily so happy about as high schoolers) and was always actively involved in our lives. She sacrificed her personal time to share it with us. Her life revolved around her boys’ lives. Her life was her boys’ lives.
We were never rich, but we never did without. A school teacher and a single mother, she sacrificed her own agenda, relationships and free time so that my brother and I could attend Bishop Hendricken High School and both eventually go on to attend Providence College. She ALWAYS put Trevor and me before herself and still does to this day.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to meet my mother, you know who she is as a person. From the moment you shake her hand or give her a hug, you can tell that she’s as genuine as it gets. A fun-loving, out-going and upbeat person, my mother has the gift of lighting up any room that she walks into. She’s bright, she’s welcoming and she never pretends to be anything that she isn’t. She’s as authentic as a person that you will find in this world. She’s true to herself and her family always comes first.
This winter, I was fortunate to have my family visit me during my time on St. John. They stayed for five nights and soaked up the sun while enjoying their time in the Caribbean. One day, we took a boat trip over to the Willy T, a floating schooner turned bar and restaurant, located in the southwest corner of ‘The Bight’ off of Norman Island. I was hanging on the upstairs deck with my friends Felix and Connor and my brother when the question was raised, “where the hell is mom?” After a bit of panic, we wandered downstairs to find my mother at the bar with my friend Ashley, about to do a shot-ski with two new friends whom she’d just met. This is an anecdote I’m sure she won’t be happy that I shared but it’s a memory I won’t soon forget. She has an overwhelming passion for life. She never shies away from a good time and lives every day to the fullest, a quality that I have adapted, sometimes a bit too much for her liking.
It’s almost uncanny when friends that I haven’t seen in months immediately ask how my mother is doing. It could be a friend from elementary school, a college roommate, a Newport local or someone whom has only crossed paths with her once or twice. My mother has touched the lives of so many people in so many different ways and leaves a lasting impression each time. Whether it’s a student who had her as a teacher when they were in second grade or a casual acquaintance, her reputation is one of love and I couldn’t be more proud to call her my own.
Today, my brother lives in New York City and my mother lives in Coventry. Although our schedules are hectic, when we do get the chance to get together, that time is priceless. Now that we are older, going out and reminiscing on old stories is one of our favorite pastimes. She’s no longer just our mother, she’s also our best friend. We celebrate our greatest accomplishments together and know there’s a shoulder waiting for us during our toughest times. We may not have it all but we have one another and that’s just fine with us.
When I think of my mother, I immediately remember Shel Silverstein’s timeless classic, The Giving Tree. As cliche as that may seem, there really isn’t a more appropriate way to depict the sacrifices she has made for me throughout her life. In the book, there is a short quote that serves as a summation of the relationship our mother has with her boys and it reads as follows; “and she loved a little boy very much, even more than she loved herself.”
Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘selfless’ as “concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.” There are so many words that can describe our beautiful mother, however none makes more sense than this. Her love is unconditional and unwavering. She is the true epitome of what it means to be a mother, a woman who loves her children more than anything and would run through a wall if it would benefit them.
No matter how much we say it, we will never be able to repay you for all that you have done for us.
From the bottom of our hearts, we love you Mom. You’re our hero.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Tyler is a local hospitality professional, when not in the Virgin Islands he can be found bartending at Midtown Oyster Bar Wednesday through Sunday nights on the Burgee Bar and at Caleb&Broad on Monday nights for their award winning $10 entree dinner special.
Tyler is a graduate of Providence College and a true Rhode Islander, born and bred.
Email him at TylerBernadyn@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @tylerbernadyn