NAUGATUCK — Cook, housekeeper, gardener, nurse, snow remover and chauffeur are some of the roles Mary Ellen Pec takes on in her life. Those gathered at the Aerie Home on High Street May 18 came together to honor Pec for her most important role of all — mother.
Pec, a Prospect resident, was honored by The Fraternal Order of Eagles as its 2014 Mother of the Year.
“It means everything,” said Pec about the recognition. “Being a mother is such an honor, to have other people think I’m a great mother means everything in the world. It’s the hardest job in the world, but it’s so gratifying and unbelievable.”
Pec was nominated by her close friend Kristine LaPerriere. Pec sat at the head table flanked by her two sons, 19-year-old Michael and 18-year-old Stephen, as LaPerriere read her nomination letter.
LaPerriere said she finds herself in awe of the way Pec cares for Michael, who has special needs and suffers from severe seizures. LaPerriere described Pec holding Michael’s head in her arms during a seizure and calmly soothing him. She told Michael to relax and told him to tell the seizure to go away, LaPerriere recalled. It’s a scene, LaPerriere said, she has witnessed many times.
LaPerriere said Pec managed to care for and raise her sons on her own, while surviving a bout with breast cancer and maintaining a full-time job at the Middlebury-based J&L Medical Services. She has provided Michael every opportunity to succeed and instilled a sense of community in both her sons, LaPerriere said.
“Mary Ellen is an unselfish person who has always made her boys her first priority,” LaPerriere said.
Pec received a necklace and earrings from The Fraternal Order of Eagles, which gave its first Mother of the Year award in 1950, and a proclamation from Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo.
Although Mezzo didn’t personally know Pec, he said he does know her because of the type of person she is.
“I can see the love in her eyes that she has for her two sons,” Mezzo said.
Mezzo said mothers take on many roles for their children. But, he said, before they were mothers they were young girls with hopes and dreams that may have been set aside for their families.
“Many times they sacrifice so much of that to do the most important function we have in society and that is to raise a family,” Mezzo said. “I can clearly see that Mary Ellen has done that with her two boys.”
Addressing the audience, Pec thanked the Eagles and everyone who came out for the honor she still wasn’t sure she was worthy to receive. Whether it was one of her five sisters supporting her during good times and bad, her friends taking Stephen to and from school activities or Michael’s teachers and paraprofessionals for being second mothers, Pec said she didn’t raise her children alone. It truly takes a village to raise a child, she said.
“It’s not one person,” Pec said. “It’s everybody.”