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Meet Our #BHLDNheroes Winner: Cali S.

This is such a beautiful photo. What was happening in this moment?
I had just given my mom a special gift while we were getting ready on my wedding day. It was an antique locket. Inside, I placed wedding photos of my parents and grandparents. After my mom opened her gift, I showed her a second locket I attached to my bouquet. Inside this one was the same wedding photo of my parents and a photo of my husband and me.

mothers day

That must have been a powerful experience for both of you. Tell us a little more about your family.
I’m the oldest of five, which already makes my mom a hero! Next in line are my twin siblings, who were born with a rare genetic disorder. They’re not able to walk or talk, but they can love and they are loved. Seeing my parents’ devotion and dedication to them has taught me and my younger brothers so much about love, life, commitment, responsibility, selflessness, and family. We’ve learned the importance of “sticking together,” as my mom always says.

What makes her a hero to you?
Despite her somewhat overwhelming circumstances, she has made every one of her five children (of varying ages and abilities!) feel so loved and treasured. My mom is truly the most exceptional, hard-working woman I’ve ever known, and it’s not just because she happens to be my mom. Her heart is so big; it’s hard to believe it fits in her petite body!

She sounds like an incredible woman. How has she helped shape who you are today?
She taught me from a very young age to always treat people with compassion, and to always stick up and speak out for those who can’t. When I was in middle school, some kids were mocking a woman who had special needs. I said something to defend the woman without giving it thought, at the risk of my peers turning on me, because that’s how I was raised.
I hope to grow more like my mom with each passing day—to carry her fierce sense of family and love people as deeply as she does. To be compared to my mom is the highest form of flattery!

mothers day

Tell us about your favorite memory with her.
While it’s not the happiest memory, it’s probably my most meaningful. When my grandmother was in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, my mom flew down to Texas to stay with her in the hospital. She refused to leave, staying there day and night. I couldn’t bear the thought of her going through all of this alone, so I flew down to be with them.

We spent two weeks sleeping back-to-back in a small reclining chair at my grandma’s bedside. We cried (a lot), talked even more (to one another and to my grandma, as we were convinced she could hear us), comforted one another and my grandma (certain she could sense our being there), and finally said our goodbyes.

When you’re with your parents, you tend to always feel like a child. This was probably the first time I felt like an adult, giving back to my mom.

[photo credit: Max Wanger]