Well, this is another first for my Who’s Who column. After writing about many dynamite power couples (married or business partners) I am branching out and profiling my first mother and son team. I say ‘team’ because of how they interact with each other, and how that interaction stretches beyond the regular mother/son relationship. I’m currently part of an incredible theatrical experience called “My Boy Jack”, now playing at CentreStage Theatre and I have met two of the most wonderful people during this time, Julie Skaling and her son Gabriel.

Let’s start with Julie. Being a mother, I’ve always said, is the hardest job in the world (especially if you were Mine) but Julie makes all her busyness seem effortless and tranquil as she moves from her day-to-day career to all her extra-curricular activities with a carefree attitude. Julie and her husband Jeff live in Scott’s Bay on her grandparents’ property, near her parents; with their two children Gabriel and Breanna (and a bunch of animals)… family is obviously very important to her.

In 1992, Julie graduated with the highest standing in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and now she is the owner of Julie Skaling Physiotherapy Clinic which “is committed to a very high standard of professionalism and care when it comes to your health and well-being. We are focused on restoring function, preventing injury, and enhancing your performance.”  –   With clinics located at 70 Exhibition Street in Kentville (678-3422), and 4 Little Road, Wolfville (542-7074), Julie and all the services she and her team provides are easily accessible.  A neat fact: recently Julie Skaling Physiotherapy Clinic became a Certified Concussion Management Clinic. They’re always growing and changing to adapt to their clients’ needs. Julie is also the co-owner of Sole Provider Custom Orthotics (located in same building as her Kentville clinic) with her husband.

The nurturing attitude that has made Julie a successful business owner for over 25 years has also made her an incredible mother and friend to her children and beyond. The first time I saw her son Gabe on stage (in CentreStage’s “My Invisible Friend”), I was blown away by the maturity he possessed. He was poised, polite, articulate and, as an actor myself, I could see the seriousness in his face while performing; it was truly something to take in. I was envious of how deep his characterization got at such a young age (the young man is only 15).  Gabe sings baritone in the Annapolis Valley Youth Choir, plays bass clarinet, and is a dedicated community theatre actor of some 7 plays!  On acting, Gabe states, “What I like best about theatre is that it gives me a chance to escape whoever I may be in real life and adopt a completely new persona and be completely spontaneous and free. I feel that, over the years, this has become part of me, in fact, so that who I am is an actor. ‘My Boy Jack’ has given me a chance to dive into a character to whom I do not relate in all aspects and it has been wonderful experiencing what being in a really dramatic, emotional production is like.”  Gabe is currently escaping into the role of Jack in “My Boy Jack” and it’s a revelation. Next up, this grade 10 NKEC student is playing the great and powerful OZ in his high school production of the Wizard of Oz.

Gabe also loves playing video games, reading, target shooting, walking in the woods, and being a big brother. Gabe’s younger sister Breanna has Down’s syndrome and Gabe says that their relationship has contributed to his patient, loving, caring and nurturing personality. Gabe and I clicked because he’s very much like me, in terms of not enjoying sports, always being the kid to get injured, and not being competitive at all. He’s quiet, reserved, always deep thinking, and generous to others. Then he lets loose on STAGE – a great outlet for expression! Oh I can’t wait to see where life takes this boy!!

With Gabe comes Mom and with Mom

comes Gabe. Julie has been helping out with “My Boy Jack” and she loves being the back stage MOM to her kids and anyone else that needs extra support. She sews costumes, helps with costume changes, and she supplies actors who’ve performed very emotional scenes with the three “CH’s” – chips, chocolate and cheering up!  I can’t thank Julie and Gabe enough for the support they’ve shown me during this production. I come off stage in a very sad state and they’re always waiting with open arms to cheer me up and it means more to me than I can express.

Gabe is a busy teenager with lots of talent and he’s coming into his own. His future is bright and he will no doubt be a solitary Who’s Who down the road. For Julie, she is living in the now. She loves being right here, right now, for as long as she can be. Her children and her family are top priority, with friends and clients and all those needing anything she can provide, in a close second place.  What a Mom and what a Son!  Go Team Skaling!

Mike Butler