Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Mom: The Mayor (and so much more...)

My mom on my wedding day

My mom is the most amazing person I know.  She has overcome more obstacles in her life than most people could imagine and she has done it with grace and dignity. 

She was the fourth child born in a very poor family of ten. She found herself pregnant at the age of seventeen and she and my dad married very quickly.  Their first child was born when they were eighteen.  Having such an early and sudden start to married life, my parents struggled for many years to pull themselves out of poverty, but they never made us feel poor. 

When my parents were twenty-four years old they had an encounter with Jesus Christ that left their lives completely and radically changed.  I was born a year later, and since I can remember, Jesus has been a member of our family and a very real part of our daily lives.  My parents have never looked back since they made the decision to follow Christ.

When my mom was twenty-seven, just months after giving birth to her fourth child, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  This disease came on the heels of her father's sudden death and her father-in-law's sudden brain aneurysm.  My parents had been married for ten years at the time, but they were still struggling to make ends meet and with the tragic events in their lives, their stress was compounded.

Because of her first pregnancy, my mom did not get her high school diploma.  When she was in her mid-thirties she went back to school to receive it.  I remember being so proud of her.  She had always loved landscaping and gardening, so she went on to technical school.  She started up her own landscaping and greenhouse business and began to get involved in our community, volunteering for many activities.

My mom applied for a job, in 1991, to be the director of the newly established Main Street Program.  She was a fish out of water, but she had determination and passion and she did a great job.  My dad has always been my mom's biggest fan and she has said a thousand times, she couldn't have done anything without his support and help.

Around this time my parents decided to home school us.  Many things lead to their decision, but ultimately it was a choice the whole family made.  My two older brothers chose to stop homeschooling after the first year, but my younger sister and I went on to home school for six years - and we had a blast!  My mom is a hands on learner and teacher and so we went all over the place, learning about life.  She encouraged us in the areas that we had passion and helped us put it into practice.

My mom's Main Street job eventually turned into directing the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which she has been doing for almost twenty years now.  In her time with the LFCVB she has accomplished countless things, too numerous to mention.  I wish I could express how important she has been to our community.  Many things, both recognized and unrecognized, have contributed to the lives of thousands of people, both in and out of Little Falls.

Amongst their busy careers, my parents decided to build a home, which lead to another, and another.  My parents have built four homes in the past ten years, another testament to their determination and vision for life.

Eight years ago my mom's arthritis began to attack her nervous system and she ended up spending three weeks in the hospital getting treatment for it.  When she came out of the hospital she was paralyzed in both feet and one hand and she spent over six months in a wheelchair, but she wouldn't let it take control of her life.  A week after she was released from the hospital she was back at work (the silly lady) and a year after she was on a bicycle in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Today she is doing fabulous, although she still has lingering affects.

In 2006, my mom began to have a vision for City Council and decided to run for the mayoral position.  Like everything else in her life, she brought her family alongside her, this time her eight grand babies got involved, in their strollers and wagons, and as a family, we blanketed the city with information about her life and her vision.  She beat her three opponents and she has recently started her second term, this time running uncontested.  She talks about where her political career will take her next and we are excited to wait and see.

Throughout my childhood, my mom was passionate about three things: her faith, her family and her community.  She brought us alongside her to get involved in church, family events and volunteering.  She loves to talk and is a great communicator and encourager.  I went to her with all my questions, concerns and thoughts and we would work them out.  Even when she became very busy, she always took time to talk.

Above everything else, my mom has raised a phenomenal family (I may be a bit biased, but I am not ashamed to be proud of my family).  My two older brothers are married with families and have a successful construction company.  My younger sister and her husband live in Colorado and are expecting their first baby in a couple of weeks, and my husband and I live close by with our four kiddos.  We love each other, we support each other, and we spend a great deal of time together.  My mom and dad have accomplished much in life, but it's the success of their family that is their greatest accomplishment.  My mom did all of this with a debilitating disease, a rocky childhood, a teenage marriage, struggling finances and a limited education.  She amazes me.  When you ask her how she has done so much with her life, she will tell you, time and again, that she could not have done anything without her faith in Christ.  She has been able to do all things through Christ who strengthens her.

I feel honored and blessed that God would allow me the privilege of being raised by such a mighty woman of faith.  I pray that the legacy of faith she has passed down to us will be handed down to our children and our children's children for generations to come.

My mom is "retiring" from her position at the Convention and Visitor's Bureau very soon, but I know it is only the beginning of the rest of her life.  We will all miss her time at the CVB, but we are excited to watch the next chapter of her life unfold.  In what ways will she amaze us next?


  1. Gabrielle, this is a wonderful post about your mom! I never knew she overcame so much, and I can see why you are so proud of her!

    1. Thank you, Missy! I am proud of her and fell blessed to have such an amazing mom.


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