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Mother’s Day 2018 Giveaway Winners

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This time of the year it is so special for us here at Women of Today because we get to provide experiences for mothers around the country through our Mother’s Day giveaway.  We get inspired by so many of you!! All of the letters you submitted to us were beautiful!!!! Yes, I cried and I cried every time I read them … and the final contenders, I read multiple times … There was a lot of tissue used here in the office!

Here are three of the four winners stories … I hope you get inspired by them as much as we did! We will be sharing the photos of their spa day and dinner soon!!

With love and gratitude always!
Beijos xx

Lisa’s Story ….

There really are not enough words in any language to explain why my mom would be worthy of your Mother’s Day giveaway but I shall give it a try. My mom is truly my best friend. She’s just the best mom! When my brother and I were little we were dirt poor. Our dad was in the army and then he started his own business and we just plain and simple had no money. I thought we had no furniture because my parents wanted to have room to do handstands and cartwheels, but my mom always made our home happy. She was always humming and singing. When I was 4 (1973) she was diagnosed with lupus and given 2 years to live because they knew nothing about lupus, and hers was attacking her kidneys. So she had 2 years to live, and 2 good hours a day. My dad had to get this business off the ground because our health benefits and income were tied into that ,so she decided she didn’t want her kids to say “I had a great mom”.

Our house was always clean. I don’t remember our house ever being a mess, but I do remember her being my Brownie leader and taking my brother on early morning walks for his ant farms and doing dive rolls and cart wheels and yes taking naps, but always with us and always smiling. She taught me to cook so I could take care of my dad, but I didn’t know that’s what it was for. Before we knew it, my dad’s business grew and he was promoted and he had qualified for every trip so he could take her around the world before she couldn’t see it. Yes there were plenty of hospitalizations but she never ever complained. I never remember my mom complaining. I came home one day when I was 19 and she was sopping wet in her robe laying on her bed and I asked her what was wrong and she said she had had a lupus flair the night before and had been in the hospital all night so I told her to go to bed and sleep. She told me my dad had some colleagues in town and they were going to dinner. I told her I was sure they’d understand and this I will never forget she said, “Lisa I’m going to hurt laying here. I might as well be out doing something fun.” She always rallied. She always gives 150%. She volunteered the Make A Wish Foundation on a part time basis, and ended up as Vice President of granting wishes and working full time.  She loved those kids! So dedicated to the kids and to her family and friends and to all the other charities she was helping. Then in 1993 she about a year after my wedding she was sick and it was serious. The lupus advanced to the final stage and she was in ICU for nearly 3 months. She was in multiple organ failure when the doctors said she wouldn’t make it through the night. Well they just didn’t know my mom because at 3:30 in the morning she woke up and looked at me and said, “I want to go home Lisa. Go get the doctor.” Sure enough everything was working except she had lost her kidneys.

Fortunately for her, her sister was a perfect match and donated a kidney to her January 24, 1995 one week after her first grandchild was born and over the next 10 years she’d have 6 grandchildren! That kidney was a game changer for her. There was no sign of the lupus and she was healthier than she had ever been. She and my dad traveled, she worked with her charities and dad’s work and spent a ton of time doting on her grandkids … always taking care of everyone else. Then in 2005 my dad decided to retire from his executive position and to celebrate I took them on a trip to Alaska. On the way back my mom got food poisoning and that wiped out her kidney. We were all devastated. She was so brave and amazing about it. She gave herself a few days but then she picked herself right up and had complete faith the doctors would find her another kidney and they did. My brother was an identical match and donated a kidney on Valentine’s Day the following February 2006!!! So amazing!!! The news crews did a special interest story for the kidney foundation. Everything was going well. Then in 2008 my health took a turn and it took 4 years for the doctors to figure out that I had lupus which crushed my mom and dad.

I’m a single mom and my mom and I are so similar in attitude so we appreciate life and approach things the same way but there have been a lot of hospitalizations and she is always there for me. Then 2 1/2 years ago very suddenly my dad passed away at 70 yrs old. My mom has been him since was 18 years old. Everything she has been through and that has rocked her to her core. She’s doing pretty well but she’s now taking care of my dad grandparents who are 97 and 93, my dad’s parents and is always there for me. She’s there for all of us. I just can’t think of anyone that lights up a room more or deserves something more. She’s just the most amazing special sweet funny silly spectacular mom!!!

I love her so much!!!

God blessed me so much!

Svetlana’s Story …

Hello Camila,

First of all I want to tell you that I love your blog, especially your recipes and craft ideas (the DIY baking bowls idea is gold!).

Thank you for letting all the beautiful women out there to tell you about their amazing mothers and to have an opportunity to win a spa day for them.

I want to tell you about my mom.  Her name is Raisa.  She was born in the Soviet Union a couple of years after World War II ended.  Her dad was one of the few lucky men who came back home from the war.  He was away from home for 4 years and my grandmother didn’t hear from him once. Luckily, he came back, and my mom was born (it was a crazy time to be born!).

My mom’s dad died when she was a little girl (after the war, he worked as a fireman, shoveling coal into the train’s engine firebox).  The hard work and war injuries made his heart stop.  It is so sad that I never got to know him.

After her husband died, my grandma had to start working double shifts to feed the family (she worked at a construction site, moving bricks).  All her childhood, my mom was taking care of younger siblings, cooking, taking care of the house, the garden, the chickens, cows, etc.  Not to mention, that they didn’t have running water in the house, so she had to bring the water home every day (she had a cart where she put a barrel on and then traveled couple miles each day bringing water home).  What amazes me is that being so busy she still found time to go to school (she walked to school and back, several miles every day, and she made sure to bring her younger siblings to school as well). She told me that her favorite thing in the world was to read books, and that she read every single book from their local library!

After graduating high school in her village, my mom went to a big city hoping to enter a university.  At first, she wasn’t accepted.  She didn’t get discouraged and got a job at a local sewing factory.  She was working at the factory during the day, and studying for her exams at night. One year later she tried to enter the university again, and she got in!  The girl from the tiny village traveled to a big city alone, without any support and little money, just having a big dream – to get a degree in Meteorology. She didn’t give up after the failure but kept fighting for her dream.  She studied for 5 years and earned a Masters degree in Meteorology.

Back then there was an iron curtain in the Soviet Union.  It means that people were not allowed to travel overseas.  My mom really wanted to travel and to see new places, so she got a job as a researcher on a navy ship. She traveled to so many countries!  Then the other amazing thing happened — she met my dad on that ship (he worked as a navigator).  They got married, and had two children – my sister and I.  My mom stopped traveling and focused on taking care of the family.

She went through the collapse of the Soviet Union, through the bread lines, through crime ridden 1990s, through periods when food, water, and electricity were scarce, and somehow she managed to stay optimistic, to put food on a table, to dress my sister and I in beautiful dresses (good thing she can sew!).  I remember my childhood as a very happy one, filled with love and joy.  Thanks to her.  Despite going through very difficult times, she made sure my sister and I were happy.

My dad died when he was 43 years old.  My mom never remarried.  She worked really hard, and she made sure my sister and I had everything we needed.  She made sure that we focused on our education and that we earned a degree.  Thanks to her, my sister and I are successful adults.  After graduation, my sister moved to NYC, and I moved to Austin, TX.

My mom retired and lives with me now.  She worked as a meteorologist for 35 years.  Now she helps me raise my three wild boys (they adore her!), and she also volunteers at Camp Eyas, a local non-profit that helps military families who lost a loved one.  She is my rock and my inspiration. She deserves the world (and a pampering day in spa!).


Click here to see Camila surprise Svetlana and her mother on their spa day! 

Elina’s Story …

Interestingly enough the first though that came to my mind was that every mother deserves to win, but I am going to try to have my mom win.

My mom was the first to get an higher education in her family. She lived most of her life in Armenia. She got divorced from my father when I was 3, due to physical abuse and drinking problems. Back in the 80’s Armenia, for the most part, was not a society where divorce was seen as a fundamental right. And women were always to blame for the failure of their marriage. In any event, she had a good job and was able to provide for her family as a single mom for the first few years after the divorce. In the early 90’s Armenia got its independence from the Soviet Union and that’s when everything collapsed. The economy was in a dump, and the country was at war! We had no electricity, running water and or other basic necessities for over 6 years (we used to get electricity once or twice a week for an hour, this was when all the cooking took place). Now, these were years when my mother was in her 30s! And she was struggling beyond words can explain. From knitting sweaters to backing pastries to sell, and in between also selling all her jewelry we survived those years! Right after the things started getting a tad better, in 2000 she decided to enroll me in a “study abroad” program. This was her way of helping me to escape what she couldn’t and starting a better life somewhere else.  The problem was that she had no idea that while kissing me a good by at the airport in Armenian the next time she was going to see me would be 9 years later…

I came to the USA in the summer of 2000, and I tried to study and work. I decided I wanted to stay, had my visa extended couple of times and after that I was able to get a green card through marriage. There were myriads of challenges that held back my return to Armenia, she tried a few times and all times was denied an entry visa to the USA. in 2009 I got my green card and we met at last. It hurts just to put this in writing, the letters she wrote to me (handwritten) during those years were both supportive and heartbreaking. I am a mother today, and I can not imagine what she must have felt all those years of waiting to see me.

In addition to being a mom, I am also in my thirties, same age as she was when our country was suffering economic blockade. And the best years of her life were spent in darkness, (literally) and in constant struggle of being able to provide the bare minimum the next day. That’s how she spent her best years, and it just kills me!

With all these challenges, however, she managed to raise me well! I am honest! I love books and read a lot because of her. She introduced me to tennis when I was very young! I played it competitively for some years and it taught me independence, bravery and confidence. And lastly, she gave what I have today. A comfortable life in a very safe country with fundamental rights that so many of us take for granted.

She lives with me now, in the USA. She deserves to be pampered on mothers day!

Thank you!

Here are some photos of Elina and her mother on their spa day in Los Angeles!


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