By Tina Comeau
When Ray Cushing called from his Ontario home to wish his mom Vera a happy birthday in early August, he explained to her that his gift would be a little late because it was too big to send in the mail.
He was coming home for a visit later in August so he told her he’d drive down her present.
At the time Vera Cushing had no idea just how literal her son’s words were.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, Aug. 20, Ray pulled into the driveway of the family’s home on the Crosby Road in Yarmouth County driving a 2011 Mercedes-Benz with a big red bow on top.
This was the gift to his mother that was too big to send in the mail.
Ray, 35, had decided many years ago that one day he would buy his mother her dream vehicle.
He and his four siblings – Gina, Nola, Chris and Donnie – and their father Robert knew a Mercedes-Benz was Vera Cushing’s dream car because for the last 35 years or so, she had been buying car lottery tickets through the Scotia Festival of Music in the hopes of winning one.
“It was just the car that I always loved the look of. I’d always say, I’m going to have one of those one of these days,” says Vera. In fact, in the years when the lottery tickets were being sold on a different make of car, she didn’t buy those. She just wanted the Mercedes.
The closest she came was winning third prize in the lottery in the late 1970s, which was a trip to see the Ice Capades in Halifax.
“We’d always hope that she’d win the Mercedes, but after year, after year, after year, after year of not winning it I said, ‘This is just crazy. Just go out and buy the silly car,’ but she wouldn’t,” says Ray. “So when I got older I said, ‘One day I’m going to buy you one.’”
His mother may have thought he was joking, but in his heart he knew he was serious and it was a promise he would follow through on when his finances allowed.
The son says it was the least he could do for his mom. He says he grew up with great parents, but his mother, in particular, went above and beyond the call of parenthood as she raised five kids.
“Dad was a fisherman so mom had to do a lot on her own,” he says. “She was the one who would take us to hockey games and ball games until we were old enough to drive ourselves. She was at every school play, and she still does it with all the grandkids.”
And as if being a mom wasn’t enough, she also had to battle breast cancer in her life, not once, but twice.
Instead of a card to go with his gift, Ray gave his mother a letter in which he wrote, “You deserve this. You have raised five kids and a husband (haha). Gone through breast cancer and won. Did every volunteer job imaginable and most of all, put up with me and my stress-filled antics. You are what I have termed, Supermom.
“Words can’t describe or show how much you mean to me and your family,” he wrote. “Thank you for being there and being a big part of my life for all these years…This car won’t even touch on how much you mean to me, but I hope you enjoy it.”
As he went out vehicle shopping, Ray kept his gift a secret from his family, with the exception of his sister Gina – and he only enlisted her help because he needed her to photocopy their mother’s drivers licence and find out information about her car insurance.
“When I bought the car it had 70 kilometres on it, now it has 2,070 kilometres,” he said a couple of days after having driven it home from Ontario to give to his mother.
As for how he was going to get back home, he got a new car too, so to speak. He took over ownership of his mother’s old car.