Remembering My Mother, Bunty Petersen

A Very Personal Mother’s Day Story

Mother’s Day is almost upon us, and for the first year ever, many mothers who normally get to see their children, may not, because of the impact of Coronavirus and social distancing protocols. This year there will be an increase of people turning to digital platforms like Skype or Zoom to reach out to and connect with their loved ones.

Mother’s day can be a very bittersweet holiday for many people, myself included. Some people have distant mothers, mothers they had/have an unhealthy relationship with,mothers who are deceased, and some have other people who have assumed a “mother” role, like an aunt, a good friend, or a grandparent.

Aside from simply bearing a child, a mother needs to do so much more. A good mother should put her child first, should role-model what unconditional love looks like, and take care of a child’s basic needs, (clothing, shelter, etc). But I think many people would argue that being a mother means you need to rise far above all of these basic needs. I happened to have one of the very best possible relationships with my own mother, albeit difficult at times. We were almost inseparable, good friends, and when she passed 9 years ago, a part of me left with her.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a glimpse into the unconditionally loving heart of the woman who raised me, and who inspired the name of our company, and what we stand for.

A Firecracker from Scotland

My mother stood only 4’11” when she was younger and at her tallest height. By the time she passed, she had shrunk in size to only 4’6”. Despite her physical size, she dominated every room she entered. Born and raised in Ayr (pronounced “air”), on the southwest coast of Scotland, she was always a force to be reckoned with. The youngest of three children, Elizabeth was nicknamed “Bunty” by her Father, who doted on her, and even named his boat after her. At a young age she was very independent, full of fire, and took that energy into everything that she did as she grew up. I heard many stories of her younger years during WWII, stories of blackouts, bomb raids, and food rationing. My mother remembered those times with a laugh, thinking about how she traded things for rations so that she could learn to decorate cakes with sugar icing, or get the chocolate that she loved.

From a young age, her height was a challenge. She wanted to be a flight attendant, but was unable to because of her height. She was the most gifted of singers, and the funniest person I ever saw on stage, yet many times lead roles were given to a taller person, and she was forced to play a child, or the second comic lead. Even so, she starred in many productions in her local theater, and was widely known in her hometown as energetic, talented and hysterically funny.

Coming to America

My mother was one of the most positive, up-beat and funny people that I have ever had the pleasure to know. We laughed continuously, and even when she was furious, I could always manage to get her to smile. As she and I got older, we grew even closer, and were like best friends, shopping, cooking, and enjoying each other’s company. She was a very social creature, spending her time working in charity groups, singing in church choir, working as a travel agent, still continuing to explore other countries, and she had a huge network of friends. She continued to act in musical comedies onstage her entire life, stealing the scene in every one that she acted in, and impressing everyone with the power or her soprano voice that could take the paint off the back walls of the theater. So much power in such a small body!

What many of her friends didn’t realize was that my mother had a deep feeling of being “less than”. Many of us struggle daily with our self image. Whether it’s thinking that we’re unattractive, unintelligent, too fat, too short, too tall, too skinny, or dwelling on our age, we all have feelings of self doubt.

My mother had so many years of being underestimated because of her height, that she had eventually come to terms with it, and was able to make jokes and be funny about it, and really it didn’t bother her. What did bother her was feeling that she was not beautiful. She struggled with her weight her entire life. I can honestly say that she went on every possible diet, went for injections, went to every diet club, and even resorted to surgery...nothing worked. As a result, my mother had very low self esteem. Sure, she knew the things that she was good at, her skills, her voice, but she never felt beautiful.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we embrace all of our body as beautiful? We need to hear it 1000 times, we need to almost repeat it as a mantra, and be reminded by others, and still, many women never feel like they’re “enough”.

Finding Beauty and Peace

My mother, who took vitamins every day, and ate good healthy organic food, ended up getting cancer. The entire event, from the first diagnosis, to her passing, took about 2 years. She lived with me for the last year, while I took her to chemo and doctor appointments. For a while we thought she would make it, and then it came back with a vengeance when it spread through her body and even rendered her blind for a period of time. We guessed that the cancer may have been in her genes, and she did smoke when she was younger… But this story isn’t about understanding why she got cancer, but what happened because she did get it.

My mother always had problems with people touching her. She would give a quick hug, but she wasn’t a physical person. She had problems telling people that she loved them, preferring to bake for them instead. I believe the reason she was like that was because deep down she was uncomfortable with getting the words said back to her. After she started chemo the first time, she became very sick. She spent a lot of time on my couch, and I invited friends over to spend time with her.

A good friend of ours would come over and rub cream on my mother’s feet, and my mother allowed it. She even enjoyed it. She let people of many faiths come pray with her, she let down her guard, and really allowed her own insecurities to melt away. As she released the hold she had on her feelings, she began to shine with this beautiful light. I cannot describe it, but she was so beautiful. At the end, before she passed, she was so beautiful. She forgave people that she had been angry with easily and peacefully, and she was finally happy with herself.

An Inspiration for Ayr Skin Care

My mother took care of me her entire life, as you can read in Our Story. Her positive thinking, her inspiration for me to search and discover more about vitamins, health, and natural alternatives for beauty products, was all what inspired me to begin my own skin care line.

She saw me in the very beginning stages, as I began my research and created my first balms and oil based products. She never got to see me experiencing the joy and satisfaction of taking classes and really learning the skills to eventually open my own lab and sell products.

Even though she is not with us here, I feel her every day. When I am tired, I hear her voice telling me to get up off of my backside and keep going! I know she would be so proud of me, and all that I have accomplished. And I know that she would be delighted that I named the company after her and like to share her story and inspiration.

My mother never gave up. She was a light of inspiration to me my entire life, and she was a fantastic grandmother to my three children. She taught me the true meaning of unconditional love, and sacrifice, and through her journey, I too, learned to love myself unconditionally.

Whomever has come into your life as a mother’s day role model, I hope that you have been able to learn from them, and to love them and yourself. A very happy mother’s day to all of you,

Bye for now,

Kirsten xx

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