Sean Virkler realizes there are some things you can’t thank your mom for enough. This year, instead of giving his mom “something lame,” Sean wants to make sure she hears, “Thank you!” for everything she does and has done.
We’re talking about Denise Virkler: Mom, Grandma, et cetera. And there’s a lot of et cetera!
Before she was Mom or Grandma, Denise was born in Utica, New York. She grew up in Watertown and moved to Whitesboro. Her father William passed when she was nine. Her mother, Ruthena, shouldered the responsibility of raising Denise and her brothers, Bill, Bob, Mike and Mark.
Ruthena had her hands full. The sons were reportedly “awesome, but kind of wild.” Denise had a bit of rebel in her as well, perhaps.
While she was a proud Warrior of Whitesboro High, Denise met a young man, Robert Virkler. Despite his being from New Hartford, the rival school, they fell in love and were married.
Denise earned the title “Mom,” as she and Robert raised a family: First Shannon, then Sean, then Kate. She was not only a natural, she was awesome!
Sean recalls having an ideal upbringing, despite he and his sisters admittedly being “pains in the butt.” He fondly remembers the pool in the backyard, summer vacations, and trips to Cape Cod and Disney World.
“It was like growing up in Mayberry,” he says. That’s because Mom was always there for her kids, he goes on to explain. She never missed any of Sean’s games, or Shannon and Kate’s dance recitals. She always made sure they had the nicest clothes, the newest toys.
There were many memorable family moments. The Easter morning jelly bean hunt. Campfires on the beach listening to Casey Jones. Hair of the Dog concerts. Going to Syracuse games together.
Mom was hospitable as well as generous; the family always entertained neighbors and friends for cookouts, parties, and Fourth of July fireworks. And then, there was all the et cetera. The wonderful things.
The Virkler kid’s mom was always positive, always supportive. She was willing to help the family every way she could. Her love, patience, and kindness were limitless. For the children, for her brothers, and for her own mother, whom she cared for after suffering a stroke.
Sean notes that “Mom’s love and support shaped me and my sisters into who we are today.” They’ve learned from her to be respectful and caring spouses, parents and human beings.
It’s easy to laugh about the time Mom almost dropped Kate into the ocean during a whale watch, or the shards of glass that ended up in the Christmas ham, or drinking too much rum. Great moms get a pass for those sorts of things.
Denise Virkler might be retired now, but she’s still active, walking, pickle balling, shopping for deals, and going to the beach. And she’s still Mom. And Grandma to nine, ranging in age from three to 17. She’d insist that they all get a shout out: Jake, Jameson, Luke, Matthew, Conor, Benjamin, Kendyl, Thomas and Samantha.
She is still there for all of them, anytime. She never misses any of their special events. She’s still busy making special memories with them.
From the heart, Sean says: “I love you, Mom, though I don’t say it enough. Thank you for everything you do for me, my sisters, and the grandkids. I can’t thank you enough for all the little things you do for all of us.”
All that et cetera!