Letter: Not a mother by birth, but one who shaped a life

With Mother’s Day Sunday, I found it to be the perfect opportunity to spotlight a woman within this community who defines what true motherly love is all about.
Suzanne Mansell first came into my life several years ago when her daughter Ashley and I became friends through little league cheerleading.

Suzanne Mansell, left, and the author, Melissa Driskell, who graduates from a nursing program this month.

Suzanne Mansell, left, and the author, Melissa Driskell, who graduates from a nursing program this month.

Suzanne was very involved in her daughter’s life and one of those moms everyone wanted to have. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, Ashley became like a sister to me and Suzanne became the motherly figure I never had.
She was there to celebrate the achievements I accomplished and never gave up on me when I failed.
This is especially true during my rebellious high school years. This was a time in my life where I failed to see the importance of education and lacked the maturity and guidance needed to stay on track. My grades were at an all-time low and my attendance put me at risk of not even being able to graduate.
Although Suzanne had lectured me time and time again, she knew that a bigger intervention was needed. I
was then offered an invitation by Suzanne and her loving husband David to come live with them throughout my last year of school. This was one of the biggest blessings of my life, without a doubt.
While living with the Mansells, I had the structure I so desperately needed. Going to school was no longer an option, it was an expectation. Other rules were set for me just as they were for their own daughter, such as an appropriate curfew.
My grades quickly improved, along with my attendance, and on graduation day I was able to walk across that stage with my head held high.
I am happy to say that within the next week I will be walking across another stage as I graduate from the Johnson County Community College and its practical nursing program. Suzanne will be there to celebrate this achievement with me, just as she’s always been throughout my trials and triumphs; and to me that is what true motherly love is all about.
Thank you, Suzanne, for all you have done and continue to do. I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without you.

– Happy Mother’s Day!
Melissa Driskell

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