Tinasia's moving tribute to her late mother
While scores of children will be honouring their mothers this weekend with homemade cards and breakfast in bed, Tinasia Paynter has decided to celebrate her mom in a different way this Mother's Day.
The ten-year-old wrote a moving essay about her mother Kitina Simmons, who died in a car accident in 2008. She recently won first place in the Continental Society of Bermuda's Mother's Day Essay competition, and said she entered the contest to tell others how much her mom still means to her.
Tinasia paid tribute to her mom for being “truly unique”, always making her feel “super special” and being “a gentle queen” who wouldn't hurt anyone.
She wrote: “My mother passed away when I was five years old, but I still have the guts to believe that she should still be voted Mother of the Year!
“While she is not here physically with me, she is still making a significant impact on my life and she always will.”
Tinasia said it's sometimes hard to remember all the good times she shared with Ms Simmons. But one memory that sticks out is when they moved into a new home together and got to jump on the bed and dance to songs.
“[My mom] was funny, the best, pretty and nice,” she said, when asked to describe her mother. “She used to say things that are funny, and make jokes, and the way she danced [made me laugh].
“She would help a lot of people, and she liked to help people. She would help me with my schoolwork in the hard times I had.”
Howard Paynter, her father, said he didn't get to read the essay until he was called down to Tinasia's school Elliot Primary recently. But he wasn't surprised that she fared well in the competition.
“I was pretty excited, and felt like a proud dad because sometimes when you are raising a child you don't really know how well they are doing until they actually grow up a bit,” he said.
“It's been five years since her mom passed and it's been half of [Tinasia's] life where I have had to navigate my way through. In the beginning it wasn't easy, but as time went on it just became natural.”
Mr Paynter said both sides of Tinasia's family have made it a priority to keep Ms Simmons' memory alive.
Sometimes they put cards and flowers down on her mother's grave; the family also gather to have parties in celebration of her life. “I get to blow out the candles for her,” Tinasia said.
They are also constantly reminding the youngster about how much her “free spirit”, “high energy” and “personality” are like her mom's.
He admitted he was “a bit shell shocked” when Ms Simmons passed suddenly and was left wondering what to do as a parent. He sought to get counselling and was taught the importance of keeping Tinasia's mom in regular conversations.
“Basically I was told to reinforce the views, and talk about her freely, and talk as if she hasn't gone anywhere at all,” he said. “And I think it has been the biggest strengthening tool because we talk so freely about her it's as if she hasn't gone anywhere.
“When it comes to writing about her mom she gets most of the stuff from her support system and we don't say anything negative about her.
“From that I think she has built a totally positive image of Kitina — from what she can remember and what we tell her.”
If Mr Paynter could tell Ms Simmons anything in honour of Mother's Day he said he would simply thank her. “I would thank her for being who she is because in turn she gave us a beautiful daughter.
“Some of Tinasia's attributes come from her mom ... and I would say the blend of us both produces what we have today.”
The Continental Society of Bermuda will be honouring Tinasia and her mother with a special assembly this morning. The youngster will be awarded a host of prizes — including a travel voucher from Jet Blue and a pizza luncheon for her P5 classmates.
This was the Continental Society's 44th annual Mother's Day Essay Competition. Organisers received 125 essays from seven participating primary schools — but this was the first time in the charity's history where the winning mother was deceased.
My mother should be mother of the year because she is my shadow.
She's an angel that flies above me, like the beautiful clouds, but soars even higher above the clouds too. That's because she's up in heaven watching over me.
The second reason why my mother should be mother of the year is because she was truly unique.
She made me stand out like a sore thumb! My mother made me feel super special by being there for me. My mother passed away five years ago.
The third reason why my mother should be mother of the year was because I believed in her and she believed in me.
My mother passed away when I was five years old, but I still have the guts to believe that she should still be voted Mother of the Year! While she is not here physically with me, she is still making a significant impact on my life and she always will.
The fourth reason why my mother should be mother of the year is because she took things like man.
She would never back down from anything. She worked hard for a long time and always looked as cute as a button. When she was working hard, she was as sharp as a pencil. My mom always had a sharp tongue on her!
The fifth reason why my mother should be mother of the year was because she was as gentle as a lamb.
She would not even hurt a fly. She was a gentle queen. She would not hurt anyone. What a precious gem she was.
In conclusion, now you know why my mother should be mother of the year.
Remember, vote for my mother. She's the best! My mother should win the title and be this year's mother of the year. Remember my mother, Kitina Simmons.