VIP SuperDad: Jason Edwards
story by LIESEL SCHMIDT
Jason Edwards has been a father for the better apart of two decades.
A year and a half ago, after the loss of his wife, Mary (pictured left), he became a single father.
Hearing him speak of Mary and the kind of mother she was, it’s clear that she has inspired him to not only be every bit the father she would want him to be, but also to be the best human possible—even under the most adverse circumstances. Hers was an ability to always aim to fly above the impossible, to recognize what is important in life—and she instilled that in her family, as well as the knowledge that every spirit is special, and one should never be overcome by the challenges they face.
“Mary was the kind of person that believed that it was more important to have a smile on your face and be happy than to have wealth or social status,” Jason says. “She lived that every day. She was the skater mom for our daughter Dakota, she was the Scout mom and the baseball mom for our son Hunter—and never a moment of drama with any of it. She always had a smile, no matter what!
Jason photographed with daughter, Dakota, and Martha Carucci, Director of the National Breast Center Foundation, in front of Mary's Angel Wings.
“When we first had our kids, we struggled financially. There were a lot of seemingly stressful times over money, school, business, the house…” he goes on. “Mary was always so calm and relaxed about everything, and there was a very synergistic balance between us. What one needed, the other had. It helped us get through so much together. It helped us get through so much together. Because of that, I now try to focus more on my kids’ happiness and sense of family. Mary and I shared the belief in importance of family and faith.”
"There is a strength about them that always amazes me. Sometimes I think that their faith and emotional strength are stronger than mine.”
Naturally, now that Jason is raising their two teenagers on his own, his involvement in the day-to-day has deepened. “I try to make sure that they have things Mary would have been on top of,” Jason says. “I know I can never replace her love for them or take away their feeling of loss for her, so I try—not always successfully—to do as much as I can to provide the things she would have, emotionally and spiritually. There are certain things that a mother and a father each provide for their children, and they’re not always interchangeable. The hardest parts for me are the times that the kids just wish they had their mom. They miss her, and there's nothing you can do for them to take that pain away or fill that void. I'm so very proud of them for the way they have come to cope without having their mom. There is a strength about them that always amazes me. Sometimes I think that their faith and emotional strength are stronger than mine.”
Strength is a running theme in this family.
Almost a decade ago, the Edwards's family was rocked by news that Mary had breast cancer shortly before her 50th birthday. “I always think back to that moment and remember how fast life changed,” he says.
“When she told me about it, I was puzzled,” Jason admits. “Then when I got home and saw this amazing creation, I was in awe. Mary explained to me later that morning, standing in front of the wings and admiring her work, ‘The purpose was to provide something uplifting for everyone—and in a big way. This is how I feel about the Foundation.’”
Now, what Jason sees when he looks at those wings—which have become part of the walk in tribute to Mary—is a reflection of his wife. “I see her childlike, ear-to-ear smile, standing in front of the wings,” he says. “It’s the smile she had before that day that changed [her] life, that relaxed and happy face that she had before she was diagnosed with cancer. I look at the detail and marvel at how this was created in such a short time. I can’t help but think that there was a higher power at work here. Her inspiration was way beyond my comprehension at that point."
Those wings mean even more now than ever. “Martha Carrucci of the NBCF adopted the wings as their symbol for the walk,” he continues. “It helps all of us keep her spirit alive and remember her for the courageous and beautiful spirit that she was and still is. She was flying above cancer. She always kept fighting and each time she had bad news, she would regroup and fly above. Hopefully, her story will inspire others to fight—and still others to help support the fight.”