There are many memories that stand out for Jason Allen Donald when he starts talking about his mother, the strong, loving, and generous Patricia (Trish) Donald.
One was on a Mother’s Day back when Jason was still an active military member in the U.S. Army. He came back home secretly and snuck into the family’s backyard.
“My sister gave my parents probably some lame excuse to go to the backyard,” Jason said. “The surprise on both their faces is something that I will always remember.”
This year for Mother’s Day, Jason and his sister, Alyce Schwartz, want to make sure that Trish remembers how much she is appreciated – her warm smile, her constant friendship, her genuine concern, and the thought she puts in for others does not go unnoticed.
“She means the world to me,” said Alyce. “I’ve always been attached at the hip! She’s my best friend, the one I can laugh with and confide in. She gives very good advice and is always there to help. Her lifelong friendship and her caring ways and words mean everything to me.”
Patricia Villante Donald is the daughter of Joseph and Cecilia Villante. She spent most of her childhood in Elmer, New Jersey, where she met a life-long best friend, Tootie. The Villante family – which included brothers Joe and Jerry, and sister Kathleen – then moved to Warminster, Pennsylvania, where Trish attended Archbishop Wood Catholic High School.
As a teenager, she started another enduring friendship, this time with a wonderful classmate named Pat Raab. But at age 18, an unexpected pregnancy forced Trish to make some difficult decisions.
Instead of allowing the father’s parents to pressure her into getting an abortion or giving her baby up for adoption, Trish eloped with Jason’s biological father – only for him to leave her before the baby’s birth.
Undeterred, Trish became a single mom at age 19 as she gave up art school and overcame obstacles with the love and support of her parents and family.
“There was no question in her mind what she was going to do,” Jason said. “Being an unwed mother in the early ‘70s and a part of a strict Catholic environment wasn’t easy. But she’s a strong woman who endured a lot.”
Jason is forever grateful for the sacrifices his mother made to have him and raise him as her own. Reflecting on it made him very emotional.
“There is nothing I don’t like about my mom,” said Jason. “She is my everything and I love her more than she’ll ever know.”
When Jason was around 4 years old, Trish would meet and eventually marry a man named Bruce. Jason’s stepdad, who eventually passed away in 2006, loved and raised Jason as his own, while the couple added a daughter to the family in July 1979 that they named Alyce.
Alyce has learned a lot from Trish and is grateful for her mother’s presence in her life.
“She has taught me how to forgive, how to be patient, and how to accept and get through many griefs as a family,” Alyce said. “And, most importantly, she taught me how to enjoy life!”
Trish is now retired and living in Florida with Steve, who she met two years after Bruce’s death. She is the loving grandmother to 26-year-old Jason, 23-year-old Carly, 21-year-old Caden, 19-year-old David, 16-year-old Nicholas, and 9-year-old Cecilia.
“She loves all the grandkids so much,” said Alyce. “They love her cards that she sends, and her different shaped bills tucked away inside. She makes them all feel special.”
The Schwartz children – David, Nicholas, and Cecilia – absolutely adore their grandmother, who they affectionately refer to as “Mum-Mum.”
“Mum-Mum applauds Nicholas’ musical talents, praises David’s academic endeavors, and adores Cecilia and her artwork,” said Alyce. “She has the best hugs, and we always have so much fun and lots of belly laughs when she visits, or we visit her in sunny Florida.”
In addition to the grandkids, Trish loves plants and her dog, Josie. Plus, she enjoys going down to the beach and collecting seashells. She is very creative, especially with her unique birthday cards.
It is difficult for Jason and others to really describe the impact that Trish has had on their life. She is, as Jason said, “loving, caring, generous, smart” – a set of qualities that has helped her endure many hard circumstances, from being a single mom to having a boss who farted all the time to grieving the loss of her brothers or long-time husband.
Through everything, Trish has displayed strength and beauty that her children cannot help but appreciate – or forget.
“Her unconditional love, work ethic, strength, and compassion were instilled into me, and I try to be the same with my family,” said Jason. “I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today without my mom.”
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