Celebrating Our Mothers …

–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

Phyllis Jean

Mother’s Day is coming, and it will be the seventh without my mother since she passed away just before Mother’s Day in 2011. She had been leaving us slowly, however, as the Alzheimer’s took much of her piece by piece during her last 10 years.

Since her death, it has become easier to remember her as she really was – the strong, active and loving mother she was when I was younger. She was college educated and a teacher, but as many of her generation were able to do, she chose to stay home with my brother and me as we grew up. It was a great gift I didn’t recognize at the time but have come to more fully appreciate as I have grown.

She was always there for us. We were her job – making our meals, doing our laundry, putting on band-aids, taking us to the doctor, being a volunteer at church and school, driving us everywhere, teaching us all we needed to know, and so much more.

Everybody’s mom is their number one fan, and my mom was mine. Cheering me on when she should, prodding me when I needed it, protecting me when I needed that, knowing when to correct and when not to. In her later years, she never lost that. What a gift she was to me.

Thank you, Mom, for always being there for me! I love you and miss you dearly.
—Craig Stough



My dad has always referred to my mother as our, “domestic engineer”. It’s hard to imagine a woman who once took 36 photos of her eyeball (before realizing she had the disposal camera facing the wrong way) having the know-how to erect a great structure. Yet, she built a strong foundation and fortress of family, faith and friendship that has weathered many a storm.

There are many attributes to her work, such as her continual presence at her grandchildren’s milestones that can be seen from the exterior. However, as with many gravity-defying edifices, it is the unseen, silent “building” that I most admire.

The woman is a big advocate for developing inner beauty. I will always remember her telling me as a teen to “work on your inside”, to be “authentic” and that “beauty truly does radiate from within”. That passed down belief came in handy during my time battling breast cancer as a bald woman with drainage tubes. She also passed on her love and appreciation of nature, laughter, comfortable shoes, seeing the humor in every situation and of having a cold Molson on a warm Canadian day.

My Mom (AKA Noni) is my north star, the fixed, constant presence in my life and my ambassador of “memory making moments”. They say, “in life you don’t need a manual, you need a mother.” I have one, a silent builder, who has given me the tools for knowing what is truly important and the blueprints of how to be a successful “domestic engineer” of love.
—Mary Helen Darah



She is approaching 90 this July. A child of the Great Depression, her life has been filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The mother of eight children, she buried an adult son, Bill, after he battled cancer off and on for nearly twenty years. Her husband and our dad, Bill, died in 1997 when she was nearly 70 years of age and she forged a new identity as an independent woman still maintaining her primary role as mom to now adult children with gratitude, grace, dignity and good humor.

Author and activist, Harriet Beecher Stowe said eloquently so many years ago “most mothers are instinctive philosophers”. Our mom, Adela, had enough mom-isms to last a lifetime and I still find myself saying them to my own children today. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” was her realistic approach to marriage and raising children. “If you don’t open your mouth, you will open your purse” was a saying she borrowed from her own mother on how important it is to speak up for yourself or it would cost you in more ways than what can be measured financially. And my personal favorite, “You may be smart in school, but you are pretty dumb at home” sums up the challenges of raising teenagers.

We all want to believe that mothering is so different than it was so many years ago. Although the joys and challenges of technology and social media have made it different, being a mom in today’s world is based upon many of the fundamental truths that my mom brought to her role so many years ago. Mom is a caretaker and also believes in the importance of looking out for the least among us. She values education and has instilled in all of us the importance of lifelong learning. She beams with pride about the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren. She is grateful for a home-cooked meal and for spending time with family. She enjoys a good book and an occasional glass of wine. Her life has never been easy and yet she continues looking forward to each new day. Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom in the world.
—Lisa Urrutia



In myriad ways, my mother was a woman ahead of her time. She was a career woman while her peers were marrying young and having families, and she ventured away from her hometown of Toledo to forge a new start in Miami. There, she met the love her life, my dad. A devout Catholic, she espoused great respect and love for other faiths, and never required that my dad convert to Catholicism.

She has a lifelong passion for poetry, classical music, opera, Broadway, and fashion. From a young age, I learned to scorn velvet in favor of velveteen, and I can still recite verbatim childhood poems read to me from the luxury of her lap. “I’m hiding, I’m hiding, and no one knows where, for all they can see are my toes and my hair…”

My father traveled a great deal, often leaving my mother a single mom of four kids during the week. She left no room for being our “buddy” as she was focused on strong parenting. The indelible memory of my arriving home late to a completely dark house with only the amber tip of Mom’s cigarette as the signal to just how much trouble I was in is an image that only in the safety of full-fledged adulthood makes me giggle.

As age often dictates, the tables have turned somewhat. Now, when I first walk into her apartment at Sunset House, I derive tremendous joy when her face lights up and she says, “Oh, Mari!”
—Mari Davies



My mom, Carol Alexander, is one-of-a-kind. She’s a natural comedian. My brother Josh and I think she’s the funniest person on the planet. She’s also very talented. Who else could just whip up the most gorgeous flower bouquets for our weddings? And she’s super creative. Our campsites were always the most stylish in the park, not to mention the mean spaghetti dinner she could cook on the Coleman stove.

Whenever we’re together, something crazy happens. Once when we were running errands, Mom stopped at McDonald’s for an iced tea. Since it was sunny out, she was wearing sunglasses. While in the restaurant, she couldn’t help noticing that people were looking at her in a strange way. It was not until she got back in the car and looked in the rearview mirror and saw that one of her lenses was missing…

Mom was even funny when she was mad at us, “Jonifer!” and “Jesh!”

My Mom is quite the singer – our impromptu duets rival Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer. Other greatest hits are Barry Manilow’s “Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed,” Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop till You Get Enough,” and of course, “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz.

Did you know that my Mom invented Friday Night Pizza Night? Our coffee table has hosted pizza greats such as Clover Bar in Grand Haven, Mich.; Snappy Tomato in Fort Thomas, KY; and J & G in Sylvania. However, nothing compares to Mom’s deep-dish Chicago version.

Thanks Mom for being the most loving, caring and supportive Mom ever. You brighten our world. Happy Mother’s Day!
—Jennifer Ruple



When it comes to mothers, mine undoubtedly was the very best! Positive, cheery, likable, funny, courageous, friendly, compassionate, kind, generous barely begins to describe her and her “can do” attitude. No challenge was too daunting. No task too difficult, no person too unpleasant. She was always in the game. My greatest regret is that she had too little time to shine her light on all of us. But, I am most thankful for the time that she was part of my life and that my children do have memories of her which they too, cherish.
—Sharon Lange


My Sharona

To many of you, she is Sharon Lange, Editor of Sylvania Advantage. To others, she’s that nice lady who brings you papers. To some, she seems to be everywhere in the city taking photos and supporting every organization and event. And to many, she’s the crazy lady driving with her top down when it’s 40 degrees!

But to me, she’s my mom.

While I could write more about the many ways she serves our community, to celebrate Mother’s Day, I want to honor her by telling you what she means to me.

My mom…

  • Is constantly supportive of me;
  • Always takes my phone call even when she is under intense pressure (and she does so without letting me know she’s busy);
  • Makes me feel important, secure, loved and that I matter;
  • Clearly, wants the best for me;
  • Is my biggest fan;
  • Is the most selfless person I know.

And she has taught me…

  • That everything is a Not To Worry (NTW);
  • The importance of making memories for those you love;
  • The value of hard work and perseverance;
  • The importance of putting others first;
  • That relationships should come before tasks (although I admit it’s taken me a while to learn this);
  • The value of a positive attitude;
  • The value of treating others with kindness.

I am so thankful for my mom. She is truly amazing and I am so proud to be her son!
—Jim Lange