Friday, March 8, 2019


This blog is about my mother, Jennie.

There is an old adage that seems to be true: mothers and daughters cannot truly see or know the other as a person. Because mothers and daughters are so closely connected, their mutual unknowability and inherent blind spot might come from proximity or having expectations. The normal personality differences usually result in a mother-daughter dance that lasts forever, a dance that unintentionally upholds the tender relationship where we share and protect our hearts with and from one another.

My mom is peaceful, serene, and logical.  She loves justice but also uplifts peace. She’s honored  first her parents, then her husband, and then her family.  In all of my years with my mother, she’s never badmouthed any of them—because she treasures these relationships. She rolled up her sleeves and shared her skills, recipes, stories, and values effortlessly while we were growing up. She taught me about proper boundaries before that word was even part of the female vocabulary. And most of all, she taught me how to be a good woman just by living the example right in front of me.

My parents, Jack and Jennie, on their wedding day

 As a young woman, she was Tracy’s Tomato Queen, riding on top of an elephant in the middle of our small town.  Not long after, she met and fell in love with my father, Jack Ryan, an Irish-American from Boston.  Together, they had five children—Patty, Janet, Steve, Shari, and Colleen—their first grandchild (my son, Vince) was born before Colleen finished high-school. Our children know her as Grandma and now my Grandchildren know her as Great-Grandma. Time flies! My Mom is a woman of endurance and peace, but she sure knows how to fire up the joy, especially when it comes to gatherings.

This past year I’ve been compiling a family memoir of my mother’s family, the Gonzalez family, immigrants from Mexico. In this process, I’ve been able to know more and more about my mother.  I am in awe of how carefully she’s navigated through life, how each step has been done with care and gratitude. There are many times I’ve watched her walk through things she never should have walked through…and she’s been faithful to stand up and walk.  My Mom’s beauty is much more than exterior—it’s a beauty that radiates from her heart.  

The days she’s given me are priceless, and when I look back, I see rivers of love, flowing from her heart and spilling into my life in every season.  She has given the same love to all of our family over the years, faithful to be there in every way.  She continues to surprise me.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you, and am pleased to dance with you!   

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