For Justin Faulk, Mother’s Day is pretty much every day.
The Carolina Hurricanes defenseman lost his father when he was 7 years old. Now 26, Faulk has relied on his mother, Gail, for so much in his life, and he surely doesn’t have to wait until the second Sunday in May to make her feel special, to tell her how much he appreciates and loves her.
“I probably wasn’t the easiest child to deal with," Faulk said in an interview this past season. “I played a ton of hockey, and it’s an expensive sport. She worked so hard to provide for me and my brother financially.
“She got a second job, a cleaning job at night, to have a little more cash and make it easier around the house. I think it was just last summer she finally stopped. I told her, ’You don’t have to do that anymore.’”
Faulk’s mom first put him on skates at 3, all the better to keep up with his brother, David, who is five years older. Justin quickly took a liking to the rink, then to the sport of hockey, although he also played football and baseball until his early teens growing up in South St. Paul, Minn.
Justin said his mom made sure he had all that he needed, could go where he needed to play and advance in hockey. He was with the U.S. National Team Development Program, then won a national championship with Minnesota-Duluth as a college freshman before starting his professional career in the Hurricanes organization.
“She worked to make sure I could participate in pretty much anything I wanted,” Faulk said. “She didn’t tell me 'no' for anything I needed.”
Dale Faulk, Justin’s father, died of a heart attack at 37. It was hard coping with such a sudden loss, and especially tough on David.
“We had to deal with it at a younger age than most people and learn how to navigate life without that support,” Justin said. “You grow up fast.”
Gail King, who would remarry, held the family together, gave her sons guidance and kept them pointed in the right direction.
Justin Faulk said David works as a lineman, installing power lines in the Midwest, saying he is married and has kids.
A three-time NHL All-Star and a former U.S. Olympian, Justin said, “I think my brother and I turned out pretty good.”
The Hurricanes this season had a “Moms Trip” — a team first — that included a Valentine’s Day dinner for the group in New York before the Canes’ road game against the New Jersey Devils. Justin said he never begrudged his teammates for having so much fun on the annual “Dads Trip” and has had David along.
It was finally Gail’s turn this year as she joined 16 other Hurricanes mothers.
“They’re able to tell us we’re spoiled a little more than they do already,” Justin said, smiling. “And 100 percent we are. And they know that. My mom will always tell me I’m spoiled.”