What my mother taught me: Islanders share mom's best advice

What's the most important thing your mother taught you? Stand up straight? Always tell the truth? How to throw a great party? In celebration of Mother's Day 2021, CBC P.E.I. asked Islanders to share the maternal teachings that have served them over the years.

'The secret to a happy marriage is to always strive to put more in than you take out' and more maternal wisdom

Chijoke Amadi and his mother Evelyn, who taught him to to be caring, hardworking and fearless. (Adil Elamin)

What's the most important thing your mother taught you? Stand up straight? Always tell the truth? How to throw a great party?

In celebration of Mother's Day 2021, CBC P.E.I. asked Islanders to share the maternal teachings that have served them over the years, on Facebook here and also via our CBC Prince Edward Island Facebook page.

Here's a sampling.

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)

Chijoke Amadi says "the most important things I learned from mum are how to be caring, how to be hardworking and dedicated to the well-being of my family and friends, how to be fearless and not let anyone stop you from chasing your dreams, how to learn from where I came up short, and how to pray."

His mother Evelyn lives in Nigeria, where Mother's Day was celebrated March 27.

"Mum and I have a very strong bond like every first child and their mum," Amadi added. 

Realtor Elaine Nguyen hasn't seen her mother Viet Tran since 2018 when she visited from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

"Since I was young, my mum always told me: be responsible for everything I'm doing; once I choose my path, believe in myself and move forward. Do not regret it," Nguyen said. 

'My mum always told me: be responsible for everything I'm doing; once I choose my path, believe in myself and move forward. Do not regret it,' says P.E.I. realtor Elaine Nguyen, right, with her mother Viet Tran, left. (Submitted by Elaine Nguyen)

"Giving of yourself to make others happy," was what Connie Ings taught her children, says daughter Jayne Ings, adding "Miss her every day."

Connie was married to renowned veterinarian and politician Bud Ings and Jayne said her mother ran the household in Mount Herbert, managed her husband's office, volunteered for many community and provincial organizations and was a passionate gardener. 

"I try and follow her example by kindness to others, especially seniors, and volunteering in my community. I'm sure she laughs at my attempts at gardening!" Jayne said. 

'Giving of yourself to make others happy,' was what Connie Ings taught her children, including baby Jayne. This photo of the two was taken circa 1964. (Submitted by Jayne Ings)

Heidi MacDonald of Charlottetown said her mother's teachings have stuck with her, including "You can pray anywhere" and "Make a decision and stick with it." 

"She was a single mom to a single child, who loved me every single minute," said MacDonald, who has cerebral palsy, spina bifida, arthritis and asthma, and uses a wheelchair. 

Her mother, Mary Henrietta MacDonald, died last fall of cancer as did her aunt, and MacDonald herself has battled cancer twice, so she said she uses her mother's advice frequently. 

Heidi MacDonald of Charlottetown and her mother Mary Henrietta MacDonald shared a last hug before Mary Henrietta died of cancer last October. (Submitted by Heidi MacDonald)

Debbie Anderson Crowther of Kensington recalls on the night she married, her mother gave her two pieces of advice.

"One: You get your first child when you marry. Men are like little boys and they never really grow up (then we laughed)," Crowther wrote. 

"Two: the secret to a happy marriage is to always strive to put more in than you take out. There are times he will need more and times you will need more, but if you both do this, that's the true secret to a happy marriage."

Her parents were married 59 years, and Crowther and her husband will celebrate 44 years of marriage in August.

Keshia Clarke, right, and her mother Ruth Ross-Gallant on Clarke's wedding day. (Submitted by Keshia Clarke )

"This woman taught me how to be a warrior!" commented Keshia Clarke of Charlottetown.

"She is the definition of true strength. Life has tried so many times to knock her down and she continues to get back up and keep going with a smile on her face."

Always tell the truth, it's easier to remember.— Bill Wiltshire

"My mom taught me so many things, but on my wedding day her only advice was 'live within your means, when money gets tight, love flies out the window,'" said Linda Grierson Menzie. 

Kelly Sark of Lennox Island First Nation says her mother taught her "There will be things in life you can't control, so don't worry about it. Just live life to the fullest ... she was always right."

'Although it’s never perfect, these words allow us to live life as it comes,' says Joanie Pickens, right, of the advice from her mother, left, to 'live and let live.' (Submitted by Joanie Pickens)

Joanie Pickens's mom Velda Gallant taught her to "live and let live, and she always reminded me that 'this too shall pass,'" she said. "It's a positive-perspective way of living. It teaches us to live in the moment, enjoy life, and allow others the same space. When things are good, it reminds us to take it all in, and when things are bad, it reminds us that it won't stay that way forever ... I hope I'm doing even a wee bit to pass this stuff along to my own girls." 

Geraldine Forsythe says her mother's best advice was that a woman should have her own bank account and she should never lose touch with her girlfriends.

"Always tell the truth, it's easier to remember," was the maternal nugget that stuck most with Bill Wiltshire of Charlottetown. 

Doug Gallant of Charlottetown says the most important thing his mother Margaret taught him was the truth about his adoption — but she did so only after her death. Here's an abridged version, from his Facebook comments here

"Not once during my childhood did I ever imagine that [adoption] was my reality, so the revelation that I was indeed adopted caught me totally by surprise," Gallant said. 

Doug Gallant, right, said he never suspected he was adopted. His mother, left, revealed the truth after her death. (Submitted by Doug Gallant)

It was February 1976, six weeks before he was to marry. He went to the rectory of St. Dunstan's Basilica for a copy of his birth certificate, but the nun in the office couldn't find it.

"I'm looking for Dougie's birth certificate, he needs it to get married," the nun told Rev. Clarence Roach.

"You're not going to find it there sister, Dougie was adopted, his birth certificate is in Ontario," Roach replied. 

Roach knew instantly from the look on his face that this was news to him, Gallant said. He told his mother what the priest said, but she denied it. 

"He made a mistake. You were not adopted. You are mine, all mine," she said.

"For 10 years it was like the conversation never happened," Gallant said. But after her death, he found a small chest of sentimental items. 

"Laid across the top of the trunk, waiting for me to lift the lid, was a small stack of papers. Her last act, in a life of unselfish acts, was to tell me the truth," he said. 

With the adoption documents were also letters from his birth mother in Toronto, who had corresponded with Margaret for three years until she was sure Doug was settled and happy. 

"I miss my mom, she used to recite the poem to me (by heart) of Henry Longfellow whenever I am undergoing a stressful situation," commented Jean Pei of Charlottetown. "'Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.' From her example, I learn strength of character."

Joe Sawler of Charlottetown says the most important thing his mother taught him was to think positive and look on the bright side.

"Unfortunately my mother was battling cancer when she really drove this message home to me," Sawler said. "She was facing a deadly disease and yet she was still positive. Life is too short to be negative and I use those lessons every day. She passed away at the age of 42. I was 12."

Helen McKenna of Summerside said her mother taught her, "You can't drink enough to make your problems disappear, it only makes more."

'She taught me that I am stronger than I know,' says Julain Molnar, left, with her mother Earlla Vickers, right. (Julain Molnar)

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!" is the advice that Julain Molnar of Stratford says she uses most. Her mom Earlla Vickers is 87.

"It reminds me that when I think I have run out of reserves, patience, will, resources, sanity, and I don't know how to go on, if I just breathe and hang on the storm will pass and things will change, settle down, become clear," Molnar said. "This has gotten me through many things — simple setbacks and the darkest days of my life. It works every time."

Tony Joy hasn't seen his mother Regina since 2019. She lives in Kerala, India, and Joy said he will be thinking of what she taught him this Mother's Day. 

"Hard work and prayer makes you strong mentally and physically. Do not be scared to face the circumstances in your life as a good blessing will come for everyone, one day," Joy said. 

Abegweit First Nation Chief Junior Gould and his mom Donna, whom he said is a 'stormtrooper.' (Submitted by Junior Gould)

Junior Gould is chief of P.E.I.'s Abegweit First Nation and calls his mom Donna a "stormtrooper." 

"My mother always said 'be proud of who you are like your dad is. Listen and learn so you can teach your children to not make the same mistakes I have.' I love my mom to the moon and back. You didn't make any mistakes mom, you did a great job," he writes. 

'She and I had the same hairdo in those days!' says Brian Higgins of he and his mom, Margaret, in this photo taken circa 1983. (Submitted by Brian Higgins)

Brian Higgins works as a video-journalist at CBC P.E.I. and says the teaching he remembers most is "not exactly profound, but it has saved me a few tears!" His mother said when dicing an onion, don't slice off the end with the root hairs. That makes your eyes water worse.

"I think about my mom every time I cut up an onion!" Higgins said. 

More from CBC P.E.I.


Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara has worked with CBC News in P.E.I. since 1988, starting with television and radio before moving to the digital news team. She grew up on the Island and has a journalism degree from the University of King's College in Halifax. Reach her by email at


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