Ledyard, CN--All of us have or have had a mother. Sometimes we lose them when we are young and some of us are fortunate to have them for a lifetime. Mothers laugh with us, cry with us, cheer us on, make our breakfast, lunch and dinner - but most of all, they love us.
We take you to two different areas of the country to meet some special moms. We begin in Ledyard, Connecticut (pop. approximately 14,000). It's the home of our first mother Pat Mignault. She's retired after being the high school librarian for over forty years. Her husband, Bill, coached the high school football team for five decades. He retired in 2008 as the winningest football coach (321) in Connecticut history.
Throughout the years Pat would bake pies and cakes, attend banquets and rarely missed a game. Whenever the coach would speak at an appearance, he would always say, "Pat and I would like to thank you." That phrase accompanied every speech he gave for over fifty years. He always gave her public praise for being there after a tough loss or when hard times came upon the program or family.
On a cold (10 degree) December day in 2008, Ledyard played the state class MM football championship in New Britain, Connecticut. Pat Mignault took her usual place away from all the fans to watch the game. This game hit heavy on the nerves as she watched husband Bill and son Brian coach, and grandson Mark quarterback the team. They captured the state title in a fairy -tale ending. It was the final game as family together. Mark went on to be named to the All-state team.
Pat and Bill's fifty-eight years of marriage brought the family three children along with Brian who has his PhD. and is a principal at Ellis Tech high in Connecticut. Then there's brother Billy, a retired firefighter from Norwich, Connecticut, and sister Pam who is an independent advertiser. There are five grandchildren, Kasey and Kala, Mark, P.K. and Patrick. Pat Mignault is one of the kindest, giving people there is anywhere. On your next trip to New England, stop and say hello and try one of her home made pies.
The next mother I'd like to highlight is in Miami, Florida, the home of Sonia and Janet Harrison. Mother Sonia is the bread winner of the family. The single mom has been an administrative assistant for more than fifteen years. The two look and act like sisters though mom definitely is head of the household.
These two have an incredible bond. They talk about everything from school, to work, to business, movies, life, and even sex. Mom drives Janet and her teen boyfriend to movies and games and eateries and lets them be young adults. "I want her to be aware of life. She knows she doesn't have to sneak around. I think she's old enough and mature enough to enjoy time with someone her age."
Janet is one the best young athletes in the country. At 5'-11 she has been a big fixture at amateur Taekwondo, something she has been doing since the age of three. In AAU national and competition she has medaled seven consecutive years including the past four with gold. She's in the heavyweight division and at times takes on challengers two and three years her senior. She will travel to Toronto Canada in May to try and capture another gold medal. "It (Taekwondo) builds her self esteem so incredibly high," says Sonia. "It carries over to other parts in life."
In early 2012, Janet received the award for most outstanding offensive player on the school's junior varsity basketball team. It was also her first year playing softball and she began that as starting shortstop for the Norland High (Miami, Florida) junior varsity team.
For the past few years mother and daughter get up early every Sunday morning, go to a nearby restaurant and pre-pare meals for the homeless. Sonia drives to nearby economic stricken Liberty City and Overton and distribute the meals. They pass out 250 and 300 dinners. "Feeding the homeless was Janet's idea, it was her doing that got me involved "
From marshall arts, softball, basketball and feeding the homeless, with all this going on young Janet carries a 3.8 GPA in school. Her mother has raised her well. She summed up being a mother: "It's a job I can't afford to fail. I love her enough not to fail."
[Photo credit: Brother Yusef]