7 Women on Their Unconventional Mother Figures


Mother’s Day is typically a celebration of the women who raised us, but the day can look different for people who have suffered the loss of their mothers or have chosen to part ways from their maternal parent. Ahead of Mother’s Day, we spoke to seven women who have lost a mother on how they choose to celebrate the holiday, however unconventionally, with the mother figures in their lives.

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Kalpana Kindo, India

Kalpana at the hospital where she works.

Courtsey

“My first memory as a child was losing my mother. It was very painful and scary because my father was no longer with us. I was taken to an orphanage in the Odisha province of India. It was there that I met the founder of the Miracle Foundation, Caroline Boudreaux. Whenever she would visit, she was always so loving and kind to me. We had an immediate bond and she said she could tell that I was a leader and that I could do anything, if I put my mind to it. Whatever I accomplish or wherever I go in this world, Auntie Caroline will always be a part of my life as a mother figure to me. Through her support she has given me the gifts of a quality education, strength, support and love. When I got my acceptance letter for college in India and was struggling with what career to pursue, Auntie Caroline set up a meeting for me with a career counselor and helped me get a scholarship. I’m now studying to be a nurse because of her.”


Jennifer Coulombe, New York, New York

Betty with the author’s grandmother.

Courtsey

“My mom passed away of a brain tumor when I was 15 years old (I’m now 37). Betty was one of my mom’s best friends from growing up and was in my parent’s wedding. When my mom passed away, Betty and I spent more and more time together. In high school, it would be shopping days at the local mall in Upstate New York, hanging out at the pool on hot days in her neighborhood and helping me get ready for prom (she definitely once helped me fix a bad makeup job that I had gotten done at the local mall for prom! She saved the day!) These days, I live in New York City and Betty still lives Upstate. We talk weekly on the phone; I call her with all of my crazy NYC dating stories, talk about my next travel adventure, her book club meetings, new recipes to try and the week to week updates in both of our lives that easily fill our phone catch ups.”

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Jennifer Zawadzinski, New Jersey

Jennifer Zawadzinski

Jennifer as a child, with her mom, Carol.

courtesy

My Mom, Carol, was the most important person in my life. She was such a loving mom – kind, thoughtful, creative, fun and stylish. I remember building sandcastles with Mom at the beach, blowing bubbles and doing arts and crafts; she always spent time with me. In my 20s, she started to forget things and passed away from early onset Alzheimer’s, which she had for 13 years. It has been seven years since she passed. It’s a profound loss, but a few important women have come into my life who have helped to ease that loss, nurtured me and helped me become who I am today.

My best friend Jane’s mother, June, who I’ve known since the 7th grade, was there for me as my Mom was dying. She lived near the nursing home and gave me the key to her home and said, “You have a room, use it whenever you need it.” Instead of taking the long drive home after visiting Mom, I’d stay at June’s home where I had many sleepovers as a teenager, and it provided such comfort. June also make me delicious home-cooked Italian meals. I will never forget her acts of kindness and love.

No one could take the place of my Mom, but I am so grateful for my relationships with many women who love and support me unconditionally.”


Ashley Purdum, Brooklyn, New York

Barb, with Ashley’s mother in the 70s.

Courtsey

“My mom passed away when I was 25, nearly a decade ago, but her high school friends (the ‘soul sisters’ as they have referred to themselves since around 1969) have acted as a network of moms, each fulfilling a trait of hers—the mom that goes thrifting and always has fun treasures to share (that’s Barb, on the left, with my mom in the 70s), the mom that’s always worried in the most caring way, the mom to commiserate with over strong mimosas, the mom to talk about dogs with, etc.”


Jennifer Snyder Waco, Texas

Jennifer, with her Aunt Diane.

Courtesy

“The person that I celebrate on Mother’s Day is not my natural mother, but she’s known me my entire life. She has celebrated all of my milestones and cried in my heartbreak and is now one of the most sweetly treasured people in my life. She is my aunt, Diane. She and I became close through our professions when we found ourselves in the same networking groups and discovered we had shared friends. During the past ten years, Diane and I have supported one another through triumph and tragedy. She is my biggest cheerleader and I am hers. When I made the decision to walk away from my mentally ill mother, she understood as my mother’s sister the pain and suffering I had endured. She also knew the strength it took to make that decision. She loves me and supports me but most of all, she sees me. She instinctively knows when I need a friend or swift kick in the butt. Diane is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known, inside and out, and am thankful for her every single day. Happy Mother’s Day Diane! I don’t know who I would be without you.”


Danielle Butler, Atlanta Georgia

“Auntie” Sonya with the author and her sister.

courtesy

” Sonya T. Cruel is a champion whose life’s challenges rival that of a Rubik’s cube. And while some may hail her comeback after divorce, obliteration of cancer TWICE and rise to corporate leadership in hospital administration as her greatest fetes, I’d stretch beyond that to say her most prominent victories lie in stepping in as a mother figure to me, my younger sister and many others. After my mom’s passing 10 years ago, Auntie Sonya (affectionately known as just Auntie) stepped in to continue mentoring me through young adulthood and navigating the latter, difficult teenage years with my sister. While continuing to maintain involvement in her community, she openly embraced the challenges of raising two girls though she had no children of her own. Auntie answers numerous frivolous phone calls per day from us chatty girls and entertains our folly on social media. And while she’s there for the fun stuff, she’s been amazing through the hard parts too – from helping us through relationship struggles, assisting us with the rearing of our children and nursing us back to health on weak days. She’s got keen motherly instinct. If I take the time just to watch Auntie, I could learn so much but the blessing is I get to not only watch but to actively be a part of her life. Happy Mother’s Day and THANK YOU!”


Alexa Dosik, Brooklyn, New York

Alexa with her mother and grandmother as a child.

Courtsey

“My mom, Jill Dosik was my best friend and an amazing woman. She and my grandmother raised me and were extremely involved in all aspects of my life. My mom was truly my role model and was always positive, despite her 10 year battle with breast cancer. My grandmother was like my second mother. When my mom died at age 39, my grandmother, a survivor herself, stepped up to the plate to be our primary caregiver. She cooked for my brother and I, took us to school, to our friends’ houses and did everything else our mom did for us. My grandmother truly filled the shoes of my mother and I know my mom would be so proud of her. My grandmother is loving, giving and would do anything for my brother and I. Although no one can replace my mom, my grandma is so very special to me. To this day, nearing 80 years old, she is my best friend. I go to her about advice, from work advice to love advice. We gossip about celebrities, talking about fashion and tv shows. She is a 25 year old at heart. I really owe a lot to my grandma and I am so grateful for everything she has done for me.”



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