In many of her own movements and gestures, Emily Burke sees a reflection of her mom.
The Biloxi native also finds herself calling those she loves ‘’baby,” a habit she picked up from her mom, Nanette Burke. Lately, she’s realized that when she’s tired, she even sighs like her mom.
Given that they’re built alike, too, Emily says – with “short and beautifully curvy” figures — it’s no surprise that even strangers notice the similarities. The two also share the same warm, welcoming smile.
“Anything that I do that makes someone think I move or act like my mom I feel is a good thing,” says Emily, public relations manager at the IP Casino Resort Spa. “It makes me feel special because I know for certain that whatever encounter they may have had with her, … in that moment, my mom made them feel special.”
Emily describes Nanette as a source of steadfast love, a woman who would “move heaven and earth” to support her family and close friends. Even when she was at her worst, Emily says Nanette has never judged her — and as a result has become her daughter’s most trusted confidante.
“My mom is absolutely the most loving, supportive, faith-filled woman I know,” Emily says. “She has stood by my side during the darkest, most lonely times of my life, never wavering. I give much credit to her for the person I have become.”
The mother and daughter have developed an unbreakable bond, which Emily says was formed when her mom took a year off from work after she was born. As a school teacher, Nanette was able to spend summers and holidays with Emily and her brother, Sam, and many of her daughter’s most cherished memories took place on the beach and nearby pier – where they fished and built sandcastles.
“There was always a teachable moment with mom,” Emily says. “She made sure we understood the importance of faith, family and having fun.”
When Emily was a teenager, and would leave to go out for the night, she recalls her mother kissing her and saying, “I love you” – then reminding her to “always be a lady.” Other sayings her mom used often were STP, “solve the problem,” and “be aware of your surroundings.”
As a single-mom of 22 years to her son, William Burke, Emily can appreciate Nanette’s example and influence more than ever. She also has adopted some of her mom’s most effective parenting techniques.
“One thing I can say I have used with William that my mom used with Sam and me is that look; you know that momma look, like, ‘you’d better stop and get it together fast, or life isn’t going to be pleasant,’” she says. “Lucky for me William was such a great kid that the look is as far as I had to go with discipline because he knew I meant business.”
Both now mothers of adult children, Emily says she can recognize the important role her mother plays in this stage of her life. The pair see each other several days a week and enjoy bargain shopping and sipping wine on the Burkes’ front porch.
The mother-daughter relationship has evolved into one of mutual respect and admiration. Without having to ask for it, Emily says her mom gave her a pep talk during a recent lunch, telling her to love herself more and take better care of herself.
“She just always seems to know what to do and how to handle me,” Emily says. “I truly treasure the bond we have, (and) I know many are not as lucky and blessed as I am.”