Saturday, May 12, 2012

Remembering Mom

My mom passed away nearly 20 years ago.  I think about her in some way every day.  On Mother's Day I think about her a lot.
Mom With Baby Steve

Mom was Always There.  And not just the obvious things like rocking you to sleep at night.  My mom had a way of being really connected to each of us kids.  She had keen sense for when one of her kids was troubled with something.  She could tell when I was the least bit upset purely from body language.   

Mom was a Teacher:  Her class room was the dining room table, where she set up 'camp' most days.   Problems with homework?  It got handled in the dining room.  Issues with a girl friend?  Again, the dining room.  I learned how to write in the dining room.  Mom taught all of us the art of writing at a typewriter.  Each of us had our own Underwood typewriter and Mom was always there to proof our latest short story or piece for the school paper.  Mom also loved to read.  She was often reading 2-3 books at one time.  I read a lot because of my Mom.

Heading To Work With Grandma Fan McQuillen
Mom was Funny:   You had to get to know my mother to understand her sense of humor.  She wasn't particularly outgoing.  In fact, she avoided parties and social situations, preferring to be at home with her family.   But around the people she was comfortable with, she was very, very funny.   She was well read and had a sort of sophisticated, off beat and cheerfully caustic way of talking about life.

Mom Made Life Fun:   Whether it was telling very interesting and creative bed time stories or taking us out on daily drives around town, Mom always found ways to make our lives fun.  Some of her bed time stories, like 'The Witch in the Chevy 2' were funny and very original.

Mom Sacrificed:   Mom majored in journalism at The University of Iowa.  Her dream was to be a writer for New Yorker.   And, she was smart enough and good enough to have made it to a high level in the writing world.   Still, because she put others ahead of herself, her dream didn't happen the way she had planned.  She gave up the bright lights of the city to stay home in her hometown of Charles City, Iowa where she could be with her mother, run her own business and start a family.  
First Communion With Mom

Mom Taught Us About Business:   Both of my parents owned their own businesses on Main Street in Charles City.  As the owner of Janan's For Young Ages, a children's clothing store, Mom was decades ahead of the explosion of women-owned businesses.   Mom and Grandma Fan worked the business together for many years.  Most days after school all of us kids would head down to Mom's store to catch up on the news of the day and bum a quarter from Grandma for a Coke.  What we didn't realize at the time was the education we were getting about small business and balancing a career with a family.  One of my favorite memories as a child was 'going to market' with Mom in Chicago at The Merchandise Mart.  

Mom Loved Unconditionally:   No matter what you did, Mom was always there.  And through the tough days growing up, knowing that she was there was the greatest comfort and security a kid could ever have.

When I consider all these things about my Mom and realize that not all kids had mothers like mine, I know that I was truly blessed.

So as we celebrate Mother's Day 2012, a toast to you, Janan McQuillen Thomson, my Mom.

Pete Thomson
Twitter:  @pwthomson