Jessie Skartsiaris, a local wife and mother of two children, is also the owner of the women's clothing boutique, The Look on Main, which opened last October in downtown Stratford.
In celebration of Mother’s Day earlier this month, The Look on Main held a contest in which either a mother or daughter could nominate the other, with the winning Mother-Daughter combination receiving a new outfit each, plus a make-up “make-over,” a manicure-pedicure and dinner for two.
On May 6, The Look on Main held a reception to announce the winners, Destiny Gevry and her mom, Brandy Finley.
Skartsiaris noted that nominated “mother,” Brandy Finley, “has been through a lot” in her life. Meanwhile, her daughter Destiny “unselfishly submitted her mom while she is going through tough times herself, as her husband has been in Afghanistan for the past seven months fighting in the war, and they have a seven-month-old baby – yep, he left when she was only 5-days-old.”
Skartsiaris was happy to announce that both mom and daughter won an outfit each from The Look on Main, a mak-up make-over from Vada Image Consulting, a manicure/pedicure from Golden Q Nail Salon, Stratford, and dinner for two at Hillstone Eatery, Stratford.
Congratulation to both winners, and to Skartsiaris for organizing such a unique promotion.
As for Destiny’s winning nomination letter, she read it to the gathering at the reception, as follows:
"I am not even sure where to begin on explaining how wonderful my mother is and how honored I am to call her mine. My mother has not had an easy life by any means, but she has always managed to stay positive strong and strive to give us what we need.
"When she was 16, she met my father who had three girls. She moved in with him very young and sooner rather than later found out that it was a relationship filled with abuse, manipulation, and terror.
"She vowed though not to leave the relationship until she was able to take his three girls with her. She spent six long years building up enough so she would be able to leave with the girls and had me and my older brother in the mean time.
"She didn’t care that she was in a rough situation because she knew that if she left without the two feet to stand on she would not be able to take his children as well. When she finally got enough to put my father behind bars, she left with my brother and one of his daughters; the other two were able to go live with their mother.
"She then became a single mom raising a daughter only 10 years younger than herself, plus my brother and I. She never showed her fear or anxiety to us just worked and made sure we had the best life she could give us and surrounded us with love and security.
"A few year later she met my step-dad and married him, soon having my little brother. While pregnant, she was diagnosed with adrenal cancer and the doctors said it was not safe for her to continue her pregnancy. She would not give in however and fought through it like she always has and gave birth to my wonderful little brother and they both survived!
"My mother was married to my step-father, who I call dad for about five years and then it ended in divorce. She never cried in front of us or let us know she was scared or sad. Instead she just loved us even more, if that is possible and worked even harder to make ends meet.
"Throughout the years, I know being a single mom has been tough for her but she always made it work and made sure that although we didn’t have a lot, we were surrounded by love.
"She has always been accepting of us and behind our choices every step of the way. She allowed us to make our own mistakes and explained with love what the consequences would be for the choices we made.
"Even when I turned 17 and left to meet my real father, she was not mad that I was going back to a world she protected us from and knew I had to know him for myself.
"I soon realized that he was still the same and she was right there to comfort me and show me how proud she was that I was able to take the steps I needed to no longer wonder who my father was.
"When my little brother came out she was right there to hold his hand just like she always had been. She has raised four wonderful children and we have all succeeded due to her letting us be our own people and being our biggest fan and supporter.
"Recently, I had my first child and my husband was deployed to Afghanistan when she was five days old.
"Once again, my mother put her life on hold so she could come live with me to help be a first-time mom and also feel safe and not so alone while my husband was at war.
"She never does anything for herself always give everything to her children and I really would like her to be able to have something for herself.
"I can’t begin to thank her for the life she has given me and teaching me what a child really needs – not possessions, just love and quality time.
"She was more than just a mom to us growing up. She was our imaginary friend 'Penelope,' our confidante, the best story teller, a great singer and our best friend. (We moved a lot, but always had her to play hide-and-seek with or color with.)
"I hope you pick her because she deserves it.
"Most importantly, I hope you pick her because I want to her fully understand that the love and support she gave us growing up is more than anything in the world!
"We were driving the other day and talking about my step-dad, who has money and was always able to give us great possessions. She said that she always felt bad when we were growing up and after the divorce because we would always call him for things we needed or wanted.
"He was always able to give you nice things, she said, and she felt bad that we couldn’t.
"But I want her to truly understand she gave us so much more and if my daughter gets half the love she gave us she will be a lucky girl!
"Also, she deserves something nice for herself and even when I try to do nice things for her like slip some money in her purse to get her nails done or go buy a new outfit, she ends up buying her granddaughter things or buying something we need for the house.
"So if you pick her, there would be no way for her to give up something for herself.
"Thanks so much."
For her part, Destiny was thankful for the opportunity and recognition.
"I found out about the contest by Googling 'Mothers Day contests in CT.' And I was very excited and my mom was actually sitting next to me" when she received the email notifying her that she had won. "My mom didn't believe me," Destiny recalled this morning.
"We were very appreciative and even more excited after meeting Jess. She is really amazing and a wonderful lady!"
Thank you, Destiny, for sharing these most personal memories of a very special person, your mom.