Mothers have been known to fill an abundance of roles — the organizer, the teacher, the caregiver, the glue that holds the family together.
Shirley Turner is no exception, and she could probably add a few more roles to the list to boot.
At 74 years young, Turner is a mother, grandmother and a great grandmother. She’s a two-time survivor of breast cancer. And without her — according to her son, Randy — her husband Ron would be wearing Kleenex boxes for shoes.
"I always joke with my dad that he’d be lost without her, and he agrees," Randy said, laughing. "He’d be eating unthawed TV dinners not even cooked, probably."
All joking aside, Turner’s dedication to her family is something that Randy said he has always felt and admired, even as a young boy.
Both Turner and her husband attended Brandon University to become teachers after the kids were born, Randy said, working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet.
"I remember she would work nights at a Husky station in Brandon, and every night we’d wait for her to come home because she would bring us hotdogs in a hamburger bun … That would be our treat before we went to bed," Randy said. "It was her way of showing she was always thinking of us … later on in life you think back and realize how much she cared."
That dedication has carried on to a new generation as the Turners have never hesitated to drive the three hours from their home in Boissevain to Winnipeg just to see their grandson’s hockey game.
"They did that for their other grandsons as well, and also the great-grandkids," Randy said. "I don’t even know how many games they’ve missed, but it’s not very many."
But that doesn’t mean her kids, now all grown, are ever left out.
"I’m 55 years old, and they still phone me up on my birthday and sing me a happy birthday. They do that for everybody," Randy said. "The term ‘matriarch’ was made for people like her. She’s always concerned about everybody else … It doesn’t matter if it’s her one-year-old great-granddaughter or her own kids, she’s always put their well-being before hers."
Turner, however, just sees herself as any other mom.
She recalls being thrilled the days her children were born, enjoyed their childhoods and only semi-dreaded those teenage years.
She’s also thoroughly enjoying being a grandmother and a great-grandmother.
"When you’re the mom, you feel all the responsibility of teaching them, training them, disciplining them, they’re totally your responsibility," Turner said. "With my grandkids — you know people always talk about having them and being able to give them back at the end of the day, and there’s a certain amount of truth to that. You don’t have the full responsibility with grandkids, you can just enjoy them."
Born the middle child of 12 children, Turner said growing up in a large family probably shaped her into the mother she is today.
"There was never a dull moment. It was very busy," Turner said. "I wasn’t exactly close with my mom, because there were just too many of us, but she certainly was the mother in that she looked after everybody … I think I learned from her, to a certain extent."
And motherhood for Turner was a matter of almost common sense.
"Showing respect to kids, no matter what age they are, is very important. We think that if they’re little, they don’t need our respect the same way, but they do," Turner said. "And just love them. If you really love them, and show them love and respect — that’s the glue."
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