By Kevin Canessa Jr.
When I was a wee lad, growing up and living in Jersey City, I never really understood how lucky I was — and it took me until I was in my mid-20s to realize that I had a truly wonderful mom.
If you don’t mind, I’ll tell you a little bit about her.
She had me in 1974, when she was just 21. I think back to when I was 21, and could never have envisioned being a parent. Yet somehow, mom, who was just three years out of high school, gave birth to me. And from the get-go, she did it all by herself.
Dad, even back in 1974, was absent. He chose to spend more time at bars, baseball games, you name it. When it came to raising me, he was never anywhere to be found. Eventually in the late ‘70s, mom and dad divorced — I haven’t seen him since 1981. Back then, it was because that’s just the way it was. Now it’s by choice. And I am better for that.
In all those years, from 1974 to 1979 — and beyond as I got older — mom did everything in her power to ensure I had the best life.
I always got what I asked for — whether as a younger kid it was high steppers from “Romper Room,” or as I got older, TVs, VCRs, microphones — if I named it, I got it.
Looking back, it’s hard to think about what she did and not feel a sense of sadness on one end, and gratefulness on the other. Because she sacrificed everything for me. And when I say everything, I mean it.
I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like in my 20s if I had no other choice but to make sacrifices for a child. Yet that’s what she did — so often.
Some of the bigger sacrifices she made involved education. In 1985, mom made the decision to move from the Jersey City Heights to Kearny. One reason was because the rest of the family was in Kearny. The other was because she didn’t want me to go to Jersey City public schools. Instead, moving to Kearny would open great opportunities to go to Kearny High School.
What do I do?
I recalled that back in 1984, I had a determination to go to St. Peter’s Prep, because I loved the Jesuits and in particular, the Rev. John Browning, S.J., who, at the time, was the school’s principal.
Going to Prep wouldn’t be cheap, either. Still isn’t. But for four years, as she worked like crazy, there I was in September 1988 at Prep in Downtown Jersey City.
Then, despite having nearly a full ride at Seton Hall University, I decided I wanted to go to Salve Regina University, Newport, R.I., that wasn’t going to be free. In fact, it was the complete opposite.
Not a penny in aid or assistance or scholarship.
But there I was again, at the university I wanted to attend.
All because mom always made sure I got whatever I want.
She did it all by herself.
And while I know there are countless stories out there about great moms — I wanted to share with you a little bit about my own mom and all she’s done for me throughout my life.
Maybe there’s someone in your life who had a similar impact? What better time is there to recall such a person than around Mother’s Day.
With ease, I can say I am so grateful for all my mother has done for me my entire life. This year, I say “thank you” in a most public way. Thank you, mom, for being the greatest mother a human could ever ask for. I love you – and am grateful beyond words.
The preceding column was adapted from a previous column Canessa wrote some time ago.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.