Rest In Peace – Our Clan Mother

EdwinaAlfredAbraira

Edwina Alfred Abraira

July 29, 1933 – May 6, 2016

Well, it is Mother’s Day and I am sad to announce that my Mom has passed away, just two days ago.  I created this blog to share stories about running and how it has inspired me along the way, so it is actually a good day to tell everyone the story of my Mother, as she and my Dad always served as a big inspiration for my running.

My Mom was quite the runner, taking up the sport as she approached her 50th birthday in the early 1980’s as running was growing through the first boom.  She won many age groups awards during her running career, in fact she picked up an age group award in almost every race she ever entered.  Her and my Dad probably completed close to 400 races or so from 1982 until my Dad’s passing in 2007.  They completed five full marathons, they ran Montreal four times during the middle 1980’s, and the National Capital Marathon in Ottawa in May 2005.  When her and my Dad decided to enter that race, we were all a bit worried, but they walked the 26 miles 385 yards in style.  6h06 for my Mom and 6h21 for my Dad.  She was close to her 72nd birthday for that marathon.  She was an excellent athlete in general, but grew up in an era when women didn’t really participate in sports as much, and that’s okay; but it would have been great to see her as a young woman athlete in today’s era.

Mom-LakePacidHalf-1992

1992 – Lake Placid Half Marathon

My Mom also has an interesting personal story.  She was born in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, just outside of Montreal; and grew up in a house that was expropriated for the construction of the Saint Lawrence Seaway system in the middle 1950’s.  Her stories of swimming and life near the flat rocks along the river when she was young always flowed through our household as we grew up.  It always had some sadness to it as this part of the territory is now disconnected to the village area of Kahnawake because the canal waterway runs in between.

My Mom’s father was James Alfred, a legendary lacrosse player of the 1930’s who was enshrined in the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1999.  Clearly, she inherited her athletic abilities from him.  Like many other Mohawk families did during the post-World War II era, my Grandfather brought the whole family down to live in Brooklyn NY while he worked on the high steel of the Manhattan sky-scrapers.  And it was in Brooklyn one evening while out strolling for ice cream, that she met my Dad, then a recent immigrant from Cuba.  Four children and a decade or so later, we were all back living in Kahnawake, my little sister came along in 1965.

My Mom was raised a Catholic, but really was the living embodiment of a Mohawk Clan Mother.  She was the eldest child of six born to Florence Montour and my Grandfather.  The Mohawk (part of the Iroquois Confederacy) are a matriarchal society where lineage is passed through the women.  My Mom actually lost her status as an “Indian” when she married my Dad, and did not get it back until the government of Canada changed their laws in 1985.  This issue only inspired her to be an even stronger woman as far as I can figure, she spoke of it a little but not too much, as she was simply too busy raising her children and taking care of the broader family clan.  We were really blessed with so much good energy in and around our home.  She was always there for us, we were always her priority in life.  As a child I always felt very secure in our home, there was plenty of love, laughter, and fun; and the basics in terms of materials things were always covered.  Children of my own came along, and even grandchildren to three of my siblings, she became their Mama, and through it all she remained the Matriarch.

May29.1967

Kahnawake Village – May 29, 1967

For some reason, the blessed Saint Kateri, the Creator, or whatever big-energy you believe in, felt it was part of the story to pass along to my Mom a neurodegenerative disorder that affected her cerebellum.  This disorder slowly took away her ability to move; yet, she had complete awareness of everything around her.  She gradually slowed down over the past 6-7 years; but, as was always her way, she simply made the best of it.  I am not sure how a human being could have that much courage.  She provided us all with moments of laughter right up to the end.  Even in her last days she could still give us wink when she wanted us to wet her lips a little.

She now joins my Dad in the spirit world.  I am pretty sure they are already out for a power-walk or an easy run.  Rest in peace Mom, you will live on in our memories every day.  You and Dad will be an inspiration to me at every starting line, during every race, and at every finish line, forever.

Happy Mother’s Day

 

12 thoughts on “Rest In Peace – Our Clan Mother

  1. Oh Ron, your words about your mom are precious, she was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to all that knew her. Take the time to remember her always and be glad you had her for all those years.

  2. Beautifully written Ron. Thank you for sharing. Your mom was an awesome woman, very much loved and respected. I affectionately called her my pretendy Grandma and have great memories of her 🙂

    1. Thanks Tiffany, she was a great Mom, Mama, Auntie, and I am happy to hear pretendy Grandma too, we will miss her.

  3. Ron we are sending deepest sympathy to you and your family at this time, your Mom as always a very special Lady who was always friendly and always had a big smile for everyone. She will be missed.

    1. Thanks Peggy, we were lucky to have her as our Mom, she can be with our Dad now, they are out walking together again.

  4. Beautiful words for a beautiful woman. You had an amazing mother Ron, she was a strong Mohawk woman. She possessed such dignity and grace, qualities of a true clan mother. Your mom and I had many talks, the one thing that stands out in our conversations is how proud she was of her children & grandchildren and their many accomplishments. Her children filled her heart with pride. And your absolutely right, she was and always will be a true “Matriarch”. I am honored and feel blessed for the opportunity to have known your mom, Edwina. I will miss our visits.

    1. Thanks for you kind words Lisa, we will all miss her very much, it was great that so many people visited her at the hospital, and we are happy that she is now with our Dad and out walking again.

  5. I am very happy to really discover your mum from your lovely image of her, having visited her regularly at the Kateri Hospital. I was always blessed to visit Edwina and pray with her at the Kateri Hospital. She had a peaceful, kind and welcoming personality. She was a quiet Mohawk Woman full of poise. May she rest in peace as Saint Kateri Tekakwitha cares for her in paradise, as you and the family find strength in God to mourn her loss!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Father Vincent, I was very happy to discover the Kateri Shrine in Fonda NY along with my Mom, we were able to walk along the paths and into the woods there, and she really enjoyed it. Now, she is at peace and walking (or probably running) along with my Dad.

  6. Ron you wrote a beautiful tribute for a wonderful Lady . Thank you for giving us an almost visual look into Edwina and your family’s historical background . It was incredibly interesting It was a privilege to have known her. We loved your parents visits to Guelph . As the years went by our family adopted them as their own . Our memories of your parents jogging , walking , playing games , interacting so beautifully with Dorothy ( Duffy ) Alan and their three children.
    Getting to know you Ron and siblings over the course of time just confirmed what a true testimony you all are to your parents . It is with sadnes and perhaps unfairness that your mum was afflicted with this núerlogical disease that eventually took her from all you . I will always remember Edwina with a smile on her face and a prayer in her heart for anyone who needed it. You will be sadly missed Edwina but I know that you are now running with the best. ❤️😘🙏

  7. Ron, I am fortunate to have known your Mother from my earliest running days. As said before, Edwina was an elegant and refined woman, who inspired me run faster and further. What an odd combination and what joy running brought to our lives. I was there at your parents final marathon and will never forget your Father’s mystical funeral service. Yes, your parents are together again and running forever. May we all be as blessed.

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