RIP, Mom

My mother died yesterday. This is her in the mid 1970s, with our beloved collie-retriever mix, Sunshine, who was there for most of my childhood. She frequently sang her own favorite song to him, off-key: “You are my sunshine…. my only sunshine….”

My mother was a reporter, working for sixteen years with the Grand Forks Herald, and was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the floods that ravaged the  area in 1997. She was an early reporter on environmental issues, and many of her articles were picked up nationally in the early 1990s. Those were the proudest moments of her career.

I can’t underestimate how much pure will and determination she had to have to make that a reality. In her early 20s she was a divorced single mom with three kids and no college degree. Somehow, twenty years later, in a profession still dominated by men, she was a respected reporter with an impressive collection of clippings and a number of awards.

Her career fizzled with her health, but she was a passionate follower of the news until the end. My mother passed on her love for animals, her strong political opinions, her love for spicy food (we were both born in Louisiana, so it’s in our blood), her inability to sing in tune, and her love for books and writing. It is because of her that I never imagined any greater aspiration than being a writer. I’m glad she’s at peace now, and hope that Sunshine has found her and is keeping her good company. I hope my next book makes its way to her, because I think she would have liked it.

16 thoughts on “RIP, Mom

  1. Kurt, I’m sorry. I’m sure she and Sunshine are having a great time together. Maybe they will meet up with my father and his dog, Bodger, and spend some time discussing life, the universe, and everything.


    • Oh, I loved Bodger! He is seriously one of the most charismatic dogs I’ve ever known, he was so manic and cute. I hope he and your dad are going on a lovely spring walk right now.

  2. Kurtis, thank you for the tribute to your Mom. She was quite a presence in the Herald newsroom when we worked there in the 1980s and 90s. I admired her drive and tenacity. Glad to hear you are carrying on the writing tradition in the family. Our thoughts are with you.

  3. I took Sue Ellyn on a driving tour down Old U.S. Highway 10 between Dickinson and Mandan on a spring afternoon many years ago. Thought I’d introduce her to small town tavern culture. You should have seen the bartender’s face at Rocky’s Bar in Glen Ullin when she ordered a glass of white wine. She settled for a Jim Beam and Coke.

  4. Hello,
    Sorry to hear about your Mom. I remember and admired her work when I lived in Grand Forks. My Dad once worked at the Herald and I have a fondness for all who are connected with it.
    Blessings and peace to your family,

  5. Beautiful tribute. I remember your mom. She was truly gifted and had a rare and remarkable talent of highlighting the beauty of people and the environment, including the animals.

  6. Kurt, I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was an amazing and warm woman, and you were both lucky to have each other. Your story brought a tear to my eye.

  7. So sorry, Kurtis. But what a nice tribute to your mom. She looks and sounds like a beautiful lady.

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