My Mother's Lifelong Journey Through Cambridge

My Mother's Lifelong Journey Through Cambridge

  • Posted on: 7 March 2013
  • By: cathypd

My mother June Pina was born in Cambridge in 1933 to parents Samuel and Alice Butler. She is the youngest of 7 sisters and 2 brothers. She has led an extraordinary life, which included family, friends, working hard and raising children. She was born at home on Brookline Street and moved several times during her youth, mostly living in cold water flats. Her Mom died when she was just 5 years old, and she was raised by her older sister Dorothy. The family moved to Washington Street, when my mother was around 10 years old. My mother attended the Roberts school, and enjoyed all of the simple things that kids did back in that era. The family did not have much money, so my mother had to make do with very little. Going to the movies at the old movie theater on Massachusetts Avenue on Saturdays was a treat, as my mother would pay a penny for broken cookies to bring in to the theater.

She spent her teenage years living on Harvard Street, and attending Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. Mom was a real beauty as she spent a good part of the time with friends and going out on dates and volunteering as a candy striper at the Cambridge Hospital. My mother says that she believes it was that experience that influenced her decision to pursue a career that involved working and caring for people. That career would come later in life for her. She decided to leave school without graduating in order to take a job at Raytheon. She later moved on and worked at the Necco Candy factory.

A blossoming romance began when my mother met my father as a teenager and continued for many years, resulting in marriage. My parents were married at St. Mary’s Church on Norfolk Street in Cambridge in May, 1954. They had three children. Dad took care of the family working 2 jobs, while my mother stayed home and raised the family. They had a happy family life and Mother was content, and both wanted more children eventually. In May of 1962 my mother, a 7 month pregnant 29 year old woman found herself suddenly widowed. Can anyone imagine going to your husband’s funeral with two children under the age of 7 and another baby on the way? She sacrificed her grief and pain in order to raise her children. I never really appreciated that until now, as I am writing this story. Here my mother’s life as a single woman with 3 children began.

With the love and support of family, my mother carried on and became stronger and more determined than ever to make a life for herself and her three children. About a year after my dad died, she lost her father . She never complained and she never had a pity party, although she was certainly entitled to one. In the 1970’s she went to work part time at Tutoring Plus on Harvard Street in Cambridge. She would help match inner city youth with tutors from Harvard and MIT. Throughout the 1980’s my mother worked at other places outside of Cambridge , and she became an active member of the Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church located on Hampshire Street. During this time she became a grandmother to two wonderful boys, oh how she loves that role.

In the 1990’s that calling that she had as a candy striper, was about to become a reality. My mother, like so many in her family, started an amazing journey into the profession of healthcare. She first started out as a homemaker and then eventually became a home health aide. She worked for the Visiting Nurses Association of Cambridge for many years. In 2005 my mother became a great grandmother, to a beautiful little girl. My mother was so happy on that cold December day, as she held her great granddaughter in her arms, making sure that the blanket was free of wrinkles and creases.

My mother continued to work up until December 2010. At 78 years old she decided it was time to retire, and take it easy. Today at almost 80 years old, she continues to remain active in all our lives, giving advice, nurturing, mothering, attending family events, going to the mall, and I even catch her watching music videos from time to time!. When I look back at my own life, I remember my mother, always there, always strong and forever putting her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren’s needs, wants, and happiness before her own. My family is truly blessed and fortunate to have Mother.


You did it, Catherine! what a grand story. The grandchildren and great grandchildren will bless you for writing it. And we're specially glad to see it on NeighborMedia because we know that a lot went into it.
Mary Holbrow

Thanks for the profile of this strong and amazing woman! A fitting story indeed for International Women's Day.

Thanks for sharing this story of your mother! You and your family are truly blessed.