Monica Boehm (St. Michael Catholic Community) turns 30 this year, and she will welcome her third child in August. This Mother’s Day, she reflects on how her grandmother, Mary Vos, already had seven children by the same age.
“I have deep admiration for her (doing that) at that time. I look at her at that age as really giving her whole life to having children and raising children,” said Monica.
“She is very selfless. I just find motherhood more difficult than she found it. Maybe it came naturally to her, or maybe it didn’t. She did struggle. I know there were times where it was hard.”
“As a mother myself, she has always taught me the importance of unconditional love, and slowing down the time we have with (our children) because the world moves so quickly around us. To raise our children to be mindful, kind and caring people.”
Monica describes her 88-year-old grandmother as the matriarch of the family. With 11 children, 51 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, Mary and her late husband Hank have left an incredible legacy.
“She’s the head mother that I look toward, and I base my motherhood off of her,” said Monica. “She would not just get us together, but get us having fun and bonding. She has a ton of energy. And she is so stylish. Her hat and shoes always go together. She presents herself very well.”
Every December, Mary hosts a Christmas party at a downtown hotel for her entire extended family. They go skating in Olympic Plaza, swimming at the hotel pool, followed by Mass, dinner and a talent show where everyone is encouraged to perform.
Mary, who sings and plays piano, has always tried to develop her children’s musical talent. The family created an album under the name ‘Vos Family Singers,’ performing at the Calgary Stampede, the Spokane World's Fair, the Montreal Olympics and a tour of Great Britain.
But while music is important, it is Mary’s Catholic faith that is the foundation for her close-knit family. A long-time St. Michael Community parishioner, she attends the parish with several of her children and grandchildren, including Monica.
“She is always telling us to surround ourselves with those who enhance our walk with Jesus. That’s her big reminder to us in our lives. She always reminds us to trust God’s timing. And also to place your anxieties on the Lord,” said Monica.
After Mary’s husband Henry died four years ago, Mary got a custom rosary made with the initials of her grandchildren engraved on each bead. She dedicates a Hail Mary to each of her grandchildren as she prays the rosary daily and afterward, she sends a text to whichever grandchild came to mind during her prayer.
Mary has managed to pass on a Marian devotion down through the generations. Growing up, Monica remembers her mother Cathy Sandquist’s desire to imitate Mary, Mother of God and Matriarch of the faith. “I always remember my mom saying ‘let me be more like the Virgin Mary.’”
According to Monica, faith and family is the foundation upon which Mary has built her life and created a legacy for generations to come.
Written by Sara Francis
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers