In memory of Mary Lynch Mobilia – Women’s advocate and mother, proudly born on International Women’s Day!
Mary Lynch Mobilia, my mother, was known for her love of teaching and reading, of poetry, and of the importance of social justice, tolerance, environmentalism, family, and thinking of others. She was a dreamer and a realist, and a women’s rights activist who lived true to her convictions, always standing up for what was right – a strong example for her five children.
She was proud of many things – growing up on Mission Hill, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, being a public school teacher, and building a close family. She was also particularly proud of having been born on International Women’s Day, March 8th. She missed turning eighty by eight months. Although she didn’t make that milestone, she still packed in a lot of opportunities to stand up for women’s rights. I experienced it very early on when she supported me in third grade as the only girl in the boys’ baseball league, and she supported my sister in the fight for girls to have access to middle school classes that were only available to boys. In January, my sister and I continued our mother’s legacy by taking our niece to her first Women’s March on Washington (as my sister did for me when I was 18). My mother and my father raised my siblings and me to know that girls are just as capable as boys. My parents’ focus on equality has made their daughters strong women and their sons great men. Each day there are big and small opportunities to get closer to equality. The key is not letting the chance to act slip by.
My mother was a person definitely “ahead of her time.” She was extraordinarily well-read and well-informed, making smart choices in life, researching and choosing where we were to grow up, acquiring knowledge about health and nutrition, cooking fresh food and recipes from scratch, being culturally aware, working for social good and social change, and showing us what it means to be a good citizen and community member. Along our street growing up was a neighborhood filled with kids and parents like my mother who valued building community, organizing neighborhood block parties and supporting each other day-in-and-day-out. Our neighbor connections still remain so important to all of us.
As a congregant, teacher, and also guitar player, my mother actively participated in our local church. She had strong roots in Catholicism but also an open-mindedness and willingness to question its beliefs and understand other religions. She provided us with a strong grounding, and a frequent reminder that we could be spiritual in any way we chose.
She taught us about the many different types of intelligence, and the many definitions of success. Also, that education can come from anywhere – from traditional or vocational school, from travel, from experiences. My mother volunteered a lot and contributed to our schools. Our parents welcomed exchange students to our home. In retirement, my mother taught ESL, becoming a friend and supporter to new immigrants. We always knew that any new friend of ours could easily be welcomed to family dinners, no need to ask.
My mother set a high moral and ethical example, fighting against prejudice and injustice. She always stood up for what is right, never afraid to make unpopular decisions – even at her own expense if it meant helping someone or the greater good. While a public school teacher, she led Facing History and Ourselves programs. My mother was pro-choice, and she participated in more anti-war marches on Washington than any parent we know. She also spoke her mind, regularly writing letters to the editor and calling her state reps.
When I ran for Boston City Council in 2017, she and my father were “all in” – making phone calls, holding signs, making donations, and providing regular words of encouragement. When Election Night didn’t deliver a win, she showed her pride in my having earned 33% of the votes. She immediately backed me when I announced that night my intention to run again in 2019 — excited about the likelihood of the first woman to hold the seat of District 8 Boston City Councilor, especially if that person were her daughter.
My mother was always there for my siblings and me, championing our causes and cheering us on in different phases of life. She was smart, talented, thoughtful, open-minded, progressive, and uniquely creative. As a mother and teacher, she has left the world a better place than she found it. I will miss her breadth of advice, her deep knowledge on so many different subjects, and her unwavering support – an irreplaceable role in my life.