1. A soldier's surprise return
Two soldiers recently returned home from their respective deployments a few days early, becoming the best early Mother's Day gift their moms could have asked for. Video cameras caught the tear-inducing surprise on tape, and the mothers' never-let-go squeezes and face-burying hugs say so much more than words ever could.
In this first video, a uniform-clad brother hugs his mother (he's not the surprise) and then a man in a white button-down shirt steps tentatively into the frame (at 0:44). His wide-eyed mother turns to look at her son, who has returned from Korea, for the first time in a year.
In this second video, we meet Patrick, who was only 18 when he left for his first deployment to Afghanistan and Germany. He returned earlier this month, after being away for a year, and stops by his mom's work to surprise her. Watch the video:
2. A deaf mom hears her son for the first time
Amy is a 26-year-old mom who was born deaf and has relied on lip-reading and signing to communicate with loved ones. But earlier this year, Amy was outfitted with cochlear implants — an electronic device surgically implanted into the ear that provides a sense of sound. At the doctor's office, the physician turned the device up higher and higher and Amy began to hear voices for the first time, including that of her husband and her 6-year-old son Blake. The boy is encouraged (around the 3:30 mark) to say something to his mom. He yells "hi Mom" from across the room and Amy is brought to tears.
3. The greatest gift a (grand)mother could give
When Fernanda Medeiros was 13 she had to have her uterus removed. It was a tragedy for the young woman because, even at the time, she knew she wanted to be a mother. But she never gave up that dream. She and her husband, who live in Brazil, tried adoption, but were turned down. In 2005, Medeiros heard of a grandmother who acted as a surrogate, carrying her own grandchild to term. Medeiros and her mother, Maria da Gloria, approached a doctor for the same treatment, but were initially denied because the doctor said da Gloria was too old at 51. But they were determined and eventually found a doctor who was willing to try. Da Gloria, who had birthed three children, had to take hormones to restart her menstrual cycle. The first IVF treatment was unsuccessful, but the second one took, and in January 2013, the grandmother gave birth to two healthy granddaughters named Emmanuel and Julia, giving Medeiros the children she always wanted.
4. Support when you need it most
Sometimes it's not the grand gestures that make moms so special, but the little words of encouragement that can mean the most. This video is a perfect example of the importance of a mom's tender support. In the clip, we meet 4-year-old Gavin, who has been blind his entire little life. On a bright and sunny day in March, Gavin uses his walking stick for the first time to take one great independent step down off a curb. The nervous boy searches for the slope of the cement while saying "I can do it! I can do it!" All the while you can hear his mom rooting him on. "You can do it baby — go ahead, you're safe." The moment is small on action, but oh so big on heart.
5. Grandma's incredible dedication
Young Tan has not had an easy life. The 7-year-old has cerebral palsy and lost her father in a car accident in 2008. And her mother was forced to leave their rural mountainous village in China to find work. But Tan still has great support in her grandmother, Xiang Yuncui. Xiang rises at 5 a.m. to feed her granddaughter and get her ready for school. Then she loads Tan onto her back and walks the more than six miles of mountainous terrain to get her granddaughter to school. Xian has taken the four-hour daily trek for nearly three years and vows to continue so long as she can. After their inspirational story caught the media's attention in 2012, officials said they would help Tan get the surgery she needs to try to improve her condition. Click here to watch a video of their story.
6. The dying mom devoted to bringing her family joy
When Susan Spencer-Wendel was diagnosed with the fatal neurodegenerative disease ALS in 2011, she didn't dwell on the sadness of a life cut short. Instead, the mother of three made a bucket list that would inspire her to live out her final year making positive memories with her family. As the disease ate away at her muscles, the 46-year-old chronicled every moment, eventually typing her thoughts out with just her thumb. Some of the activities she planned included taking her 14-year-old daughter to New York to try on wedding dresses ("I wanted to glimpse at the woman she will be."), taking her 9-year-old son swimming with dolphins on his birthday, and bringing her 10-year-old daughter on a trip to the tropics. Her heartfelt chronicles were published as a memoir called Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy. In it, Spencer-Wendel explains how she arrived at the decision to focus on the positive. She writes:
I thought of suicide about as often as you see a butterfly. It would flutter into my mind, and I would study it, marveling at its symmetry. Then it would flit away, and I would forget, for it was only a passing thing. Until it returned the next day, and the next. I do not think my death will ruin my family’s lives. But I realize the way I die may affect their ability to live with delight. To live with joy. A suicide would teach my children that I was weak. When I am strong. [Via The Stir]
7. A daughter's touching tribute to her sick mother
Sixth-grader Camila Vick is about to knock your socks off. In this video, Camilla introduces herself and says she wrote a song for her mom. "She was going through breast cancer and I just wanted her to know she was going to be OK." She goes on to sing in a voice more mature than her years would suggest, and with words so tender and thoughtful that Hallmark would be wise to snatch her up. Grab a tissue, and have a listen: