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Mothers Day Salute Series: Joanne Turina by daughter Caitlin Turina-Lee.

POSTED May 05, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


I think that when most people think of my family and sports, they think of my father.  Well anyone with knowledgeable history of Torrington sports would know that is not true. 

Yes, I know it is hard to believe, but my mother was a dominant tennis player for the Torrington Recreation Department back in grammar school.  

If I recall correctly she even won a trophy once!  With my mother’s athletic achievement you would find it hard to sit in a room with her and my father comparing old sports stories.  

All joking aside, even though my mother was not a famous Torrington athlete or well-known coach, she was still a huge part of Torrington athletics and an extraordinary math teacher at Torrington High School.

In my opinion, my mother is the best around.  Everything she does for my father, sister, grandkids, and myself, she does out of love and never expects anything in return. 

Growing up swimming was something that was very important to me and became a way of life. 

Some of my fondness memories of swimming were driving to swim practice belting out oldies on Big D 103 with my mother.  It was sad to say, that I probably knew the words to songs from the 50s and 60s better than I did to the 90s. 

In the summer, I loved doing dry land exercises with my mother that consisted of sweating to the oldies with Richard Simmons.  These times were always so special to me because it gave me the opportunity for one on one time with my mother.  I also learned that I would probably never get a singing scholarship so it motivated me to swim faster. 

Most people would take a mother like mine for granted and at times, I am sure I did.  You do not realize how amazing someone like my mother is until you get older. 

I remember coming home from swim practice and there was always dinner waiting for me on the table.  I thought to myself, “That’s no big deal; all she did was cook us dinner.”  

However, now that I have a family to cook for, or should I say order in for, the idea of a warm, home cooked meal made by mom is next to winning the Powerball.  Cooking dinner for all of us was just the start of the hard work and dedication my mother had to put in for the night. 

I remember in high school having to do loads of homework for every subject.   My mom would not go to bed until I went to bed, even if that meant staying up with me to quiz me for an exam the next day.  

She would listen to papers I wrote to give her opinion/tell me to rewrite it, and taught me how to effectively outline, so my notes were not longer than the book.  The skills that my mom taught me to manage school, work, and swimming are skills I still use today to juggle family and career obligations.

My mother was our family’s biggest cheerleader, whether it was sitting in the stands at a hot swim meet, the theater for a violin concert, or in the bleachers of a crowded gymnasium.  Because of my mother, all of us had a constant unwavering source of support. 

My mother did not just cheer for us; she also supported her students at Torrington High School in their chosen endeavors.  She always has taken great pride in her students. 

I will never forget coming home to visit one day and seeing a huge smile on my mother’s face. I thought to myself, “Wow, did my father do something really special?”  She told me she wanted to show me something. 

To my surprise it was not a gift from my father, it was a thesis written by a student of hers.  Looking through this complex piece of math work that looked like a scene from the Big Bang Theory, I asked myself, “This is what’s putting that smile on your face? What’s so great about this?”  My mother explained to me how one of her students had gone off to college and majored in math. 

The student had no plans on continuing with math but my mother urged the student to at least minor in math, because she felt the student was so good at it.  She then opened the thesis and showed me the dedication page.  

The thesis was dedicated to her for encouraging the student to pursue math. 

Obviously, my mother did not make headlines in any sports newspaper.  If there were a section for best mothers around, my mother would make front-page news every week. 

I am very fortunate to have the mother I have.  She taught me and still teaches me how to be the best person, wife, friend, daughter, and mother I can be. 

In writing this article, I looked back to the best times I had in my childhood and they all include my mother.  I could write thousands of pages to tell stories of what my mother means to me; and all the great things that she does for our family. 

I was lucky because my mother was and is not just a mother to me; she is my best friend.  

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