Friday, May 7, 2010

Remembering our "other" moms

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Happy Mother’s Day.
If you’re lucky enough to have a mom nearby, you’ll have a lot to celebrate today.
If she’s far away, you can send her a card, flowers, or something else you know she’d love and, of course, call her up and tell her you love her. No matter high tech your mom is, this is the time for snail mail sentiments or voice and/or webcam contact, not e-mail or texting.
If your mom is no longer on the planet, there are many ways to honor her memory. Make a donation to a cause you know she supported. Say a little prayer. Take a bouquet of flowers to her grave. Call your siblings or other friends and relatives who knew her and share favorite mom stories or get together for a meal and drink a toast to her.
About this time of year, when I’m remembering my own one-of-a-kind wonderful mom, I ponder her creativity, her kindness and the fact that she was a great mom not only to my sister and brother and me, but also to the hundreds or maybe thousands of kids whose lives she touched as a teacher of art and American history and a scout troop and community leader.
And I find myself thinking about the other “moms” in our lives. It’s a good day to honor some nurturers, mentors and role models who may not have had any biological kids of their own, but who made big impacts in our lives. Most of us could make a list.
My list would include Sister Beth Daddio, cofounder of Jardín de los Niños, a center that has given generations of homeless and near-homeless kids and their families a chance for better lives, and a sense of hope and safety in secure, beautiful and fun surroundings.
If you haven’t been keeping tabs, Sister Beth is back in Las Cruces, after working with community service programs in Iowa for many years. Many days, you’ll find her at Jardin’s chic boutique, La Tienda de Jardín, at 355 La Colonia, at the intersection of Main, El Paseo and Alameda. Stop by and say “Hi!” Clean your closets and donate goodies to benefit her kids and maybe even find a vintage treasure for yourself or your mom.
Cecilia Lewis is another role model who has stepped up to nurture kids in very difficult circumstances. When she was just a few weeks old, she and her mom and dad, British nationals working in China, were taken to a Japanese prison camp, where the family remained until World War II ended.
With a beginning like that, you’d think the last place she would want to be would be a prison of any kind.
But she founded the Fresh Eyes photography project, working first with adults and then with juveniles incarcerated here. She shared her considerable photography and social skills to show kids new ways to relate to each other and the world. The Las Cruces program became a model for similar programs throughout the state and the nation, from Santa Fe and Albuquerque to New Orleans and New York.
Though she never had biological kids of her own, when I went to see a Fresh Eyes exhibit at he New Mexico State Capital Building, it was clear that she’s been a dream mom to many incarcerated kids and a source of hope and encouragement to their families. You could see her influence in their photos: Cecilia learned grim truths about the world when she was very young, but she also learned, and now shares, the hopeful wisdom and creativity that transcends despair and makes fresh starts possible.
I bet you know some heroines like this, too. While you’re celebrating your mom today, send other inspirational souls a card, too, or make a little extra time to say the words that are the best gifts of all: “Thank you” and “I love you.”

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

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