Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Rene and Doris Pinette

Thank you Grigorij for inquiring about my parents in yesterday's comment. I will indulge in the pleasure. Its so fitting, because today is Mom's birthday. Happy Birthday Mom!

I'm one of the fortunate ones.

It was only when I got to college that I realized I didn't grow up in a typical family. We were far from it. It surprised me to find out. My parents and us kids (3 of us) were all born and raised in Berlin, New Hampshire. Its mountainous and rural and the livelihood was it's, now closed, paper mill. All my relatives lived there. I used to complain because we had no one to go visit out of town. I was envious of my girlfriend, whose older sister lived two hours away, and periodically they would go visit for the weekend.

I was the first to leave Berlin...

Adventure was in my blood and now I want to experience the world.

Our household was filled with love. We didn't have much money. My parents struggled a lot financially, but that didn't stop them from giving us all the love and support we needed, and more. Dad toiled at the paper mill while Mom stayed home. It was very unusual at the time. All the women of the town had gone to work at the new Converse factory, making shoes. Mom was determined to raise her own kids. She did without a lot to be with us.

She made everything! From baking to gardening to sewing and lots of crafts. I loved doing all these things with her. To this day, we have always been very close. More like sisters than parent and child. I remember shopping with her and schoolmates would approach saying, "I didn't know you had an older sister?" Mom was fun and beautiful (you still are, Mom). How we've laughed together over the years!

The radio was never on. As Mom worked, she sang. She sang so beautifully. She could hit those high notes, few can. Sometimes still today, as I move about my own home, those childhood songs will start playing in my head. Dad's favorite was Lara's Theme (Grigorij, I bet that surprises you!). He also loved Edelweiss and any old movie that ended with a kiss. Mom sang a wide variety of songs, from fifties hits to movie themes to honky-tonk songs like Oh Susanna. She sang that one often to me. Somewhere Over the Rainbow would echo out of the laundry room as Mom folded and ironed endless amounts of clothes. She also sang funny songs, which the titles of slip my mind at the moment... Many of the "Fifties" songs had crazy noises in them. Like the Abba Dabba song, which we wiggled and danced to. She would be so animated with those, making crazy eyes and silly faces as she sang them to us. Another often heard favorite of both Mom and Dad's was The Impossible Dream. Dad's voice was so rich in those deep notes, Mom's so heavenly in the highs...

They were a wonderful duet in all aspects. An unbelievable example to guide us.

Laughter and love. Its what I remember from my childhood.

Also the never-ending words, "You can be anything you want to be!" It was repeated over and over, from both my parents and my relatives. Particularly my aunt Lorraine, who we simply called, "Ma Tante". She played a very active, positive roll in our lives. Relatives gathered to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small. (Every mile-pebble and every mile-grain of sand, if you will...) Hugs and kisses were abundant.

They still are...

We are French. Our ancestors were from Canada including my grandmother. So was the case with many other residents in Berlin. French was spoken widely and as a child it was my first language. Now, as a grown woman communicating with people from France, I realize my "Canadian French" is quite far from the actual beautiful parisian french. But it still works...

Religion was a big factor in our upbringing. Its a wonderful gift to have been given. I've made sure to share it with my own children. I thank God for all the blessings He's given me, including my wonderful parents.

Fortunately, at 70 something (we need to keep some secrets...) they are both still with us, happy and full of life. They're job of supporting us through everything has not stopped. This winter, rather than spending their time in Florida, they have weathered the cold to be with my sister in Massachusetts whose dealing with tragedy.

Mom and Dad came to spend last week with me, while my sister and her family went on vacation in Florida. (Odd how we've all gone to Florida while Mom and Dad remain here...) I enjoyed my week with them very much! Last summer, Mom became one of my students. Painting together is yet another pleasure we share. Here is what she painted.

Original Oil Painting 16x20"
by Doris Pinette

Its difficult to sum up such strong influences in our lives with only one post. There is so much more that could be said. But love, laughter, God, strength, kindness, hard work, perseverance and shooting for your dreams are the lessons of my childhood.

Thanks Mom and Dad. You're the best!

50th wedding anniversary
July 2006


  1. Thank you. My congratulations to your mother. With all my heart (and soul) I wish her Love, Joy, Creativity, eternal Youth.May she live on and on and on!! My gift to her - a song by my favorite singer
    Bulat Okudzhava "Georgian Song"


  2. Susan,
    I loved reading the tribute to your parents. You are indeed blessed.

  3. Happy birthday to your mother. Sounds like she was a wonderful person and you had a marvellous upbringing. Oh those songs I remember them all. Some of them I loved singing myself now that my vocal chords no longer allow me to sing I hear them in my memories as if I was still singing them. I loved the blog and read every word of it.

  4. Thank you Ralph and bless you for reading. Sometimes I can get carried away and long winded...

  5. Susan, thank you for sharing your family with us. You are richly blessed. As a two time cancer survivor, I feel such empathy for Nicole and her family. Keeping you all in my prayers - may "God" bless. Also wishing many more happy birthdays for your Mom.

  6. Bravo Susan. Je suis certaine que ta famille est très fière de toi comme tu l'es d'eux. C'est tellement merveilleux de lire tout ce que tu écris les concernant. Tant d'amour en vous et bel exemple qu'une famille unie est un véritable trésor sur terre... Mille bises.

  7. Wow your moms painting is gorgeous, thank you for sharing. Hugs.

  8. What a great tribute to your parents, Susan. I can see where you got your spirit and optimistic nature. I too had the benefit of growing up in a loving, nurturing family--what a gift.


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