Marianne Fons.

posted in: Day In The Life 28
The lady herself. Photo: Me, c. 2014?
The lady herself. Photo: Me, c. 2014.


Dear Mom:

By the time you read this, it’ll be tomorrow.

You’ll be home in Iowa with Mark and Scrabble. Your morning ritual will be done. You’ll have had your coffee. You’ll have put in an hour or more of work on your novel. Whether or not your morning ablutions are done, you’ll surely have your mental to-do list going; you’ll have a plan for the day.

By the time you read this, I’ll have done my own morning ritual, except that I drink tea and write nonfiction. That’s a huge difference — tea and nonfiction vs. coffee and fiction —  but is also sort of no difference at all, and I think it’s good for mothers and daughters to ride that line.

We covered both serious and frivolous ground in the 30 or so hours you were here in Chicago. We spoke of work, the future, creativity, family, fashion, sacrifice, choices, romance, time management, death (same as time management), taxes, and more. We talked quilts, of course. We talked about feminism because I’m studying the work of Miriam Schapiro and to talk about Miriam Schapiro is to talk about quilts and feminism.

I have so many questions about how making a quilt for the Bicentennial united so many women from different spots on the frenzied, polarized political spectrum of 1976. You were there, I wasn’t, yet. You were a stay-at-home mom, you took a quilting class, then you built this incredible business while raising up three girls all by yourself. My sisters and I go through life sort of continually shaking our heads in disbelief. Our family has certainly had its share of storms and shrieking eels, but the ship is sound: She tends to right herself.

Thanks for coming to Chicago, Mama. I miss being on TV with you. Judging by the (hundreds of!) people that came to see us today at the convention center, I’m not the only one. We’re a good team. But even if we never film another episode, we’ll always have those shows. We got to sew together and someone taped it! Way cool.

Lastly, thanks for buying me that dress. We went into Nordstrom Rack and my eyes laser-beamed on it immediately. It was smooshed into an overcrowded display, the only one of its kind. My size. On clearance. I knew it was perfect; you were dubious and made me try it on. When I came out of the dressing room, you took one look and threw up your hands and said, “Well, it’s perfect!”

And I felt so happy because I love being a person you like, a person that reliably makes you smile and shake your head because she can find the clearance-rack designer dress that fits perfectly and she can do it in 5 seconds flat.

It’s nice to be loved by my mom. It’s even nicer to know that I delight and amuse her. My sisters do that for you, too, and this makes me deeply, indelibly content. I speak for us all when I say we don’t take this particular contentment for granted.

See you next in Iowa, Mom, for the opening of the theater. Remind me to do an interview update with you and Rebecca this week or next week.


28 Responses

  1. Sheron
    | Reply

    Well, Mary Fons, you just made me miss my mom more than I have in a long time. She left this world way too young, at 67, just over 15 years ago. Your day with your mom sounds like a day with my mom and me, right down to buying the dress.

    My mom was the best! Also a single mom to 6 children! In the 60’s!! She was a feminist, a writer, played the piano beautifully, and didn’t have a judgemental bone in her body. She was one of the kindest people on the face of the Earth, and I was lucky to have her as my mom.

    Thanks for sharing about your mom, and for letting me do the same.

  2. Nancy Neely
    | Reply

    I love that you have that relationship with your mom. My mom and I found it difficult to communicate but I loved her deeply and miss her every day. You continue to treasure that relationship with your mom. You are richly blessed.

  3. Tami Minor
    | Reply

    So very sweet. Felt like I was there.

  4. Jennifer Reinke
    | Reply

    What a special relationship you have with your Mom….This is a true blessing. And yes, you are a VERY good team.

  5. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    <3. I love the love you feel for your family!

  6. Julie W.
    | Reply

    This open letter to your Mama was a total heartwarming way to start my day. Thank you!

  7. Kaaron sloan
    | Reply

    Beautiful. I am sure your mom will treasure this piece forever.

  8. Linda
    | Reply

    This was so lovely, Mary. My own daughter is here in Wisconsin now but she returns home at 10 am Tuesday morning. She lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. I have no idea when I will see her again. We also sew together. Nor lucky enough to have this times on b tape though. I love,watching you and your mom sew and talk together on both Quilty and Love of Quilting.

  9. Linda
    | Reply

    This was so lovely, Mary. My own daughter is here in Wisconsin now but she returns home at 10 am Tuesday morning. She lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. I have no idea when I will see her again. We also sew together. Not lucky enough to have these times on tape though. I love,watching you and your mom sew and talk together on both Quilty and Love of Quilting.

  10. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    That is just about the nicest thing a person could say about their Mom.

  11. Julie
    | Reply


  12. Liz Flaherty
    | Reply

    As a mom (and someone who used to be a daughter–I still mourn that status loss) I can tell you this was perfect. I’m glad it was such a great time.

  13. Andrea
    | Reply

    It was so delightful to meet you and your mom yesterday!!! I wasn’t star-struck at all 🙂

  14. Deanna
    | Reply

    I love the love you have for your Mama. How very special!

  15. Shannan Sabby
    | Reply

    Thanks for the Princess Bride nod, it was awesome!

  16. Kathy Darnell
    | Reply

    Oh Mary, what a sweet tribute to your Mom and a super shopping adventure. Thanks for sharing your day. Please know there were 1000s of us delighting in watching you and your Mom sew together. It opened all our hearts to memories of learning to sew with our moms. Sweet days ahead for you both

  17. Dorothy
    | Reply

    Mary, i miss your shows on PBS . Still watch your Mom and the other teachers, but miss you . Lovely letter to your Mom.

  18. Catherine
    | Reply

    Hi Mary,
    I’ve been a fan of your Mom for years. I’m a faithful subscriber to the magazines and I learned a lot about quilting. She’s one “Special Lady” and having you as a daughter is a blessing. Love to you both.

  19. Mary Kay
    | Reply

    Such a nice read. My mother and I had so much fun together.

  20. Kathy Isaacks
    | Reply

    Lovely to read about you & your mom’s visit. Wish I could have gone to the show on Friday but went Thursday instead. Going to Iowa July 12-18. When is the theater opening?

  21. Kathy Darnell
    | Reply

    Such a sweet love letter to your Mom. Touches my heart. We have all shared your enthusiasm for quilting, newbies, tips and good advice. You two are a couple KEEPERS!

  22. Becki Morrison
    | Reply

    Very sweet, and throat lumpy! Thank you

  23. St. Barb
    | Reply

    I lost my dad 30 years ago April 5. I only had my mom for another 5 short years. Not fun being an orphan. But I did have the relationship you had with yours. I called her every day and we planned outings for fun. I started doing things with my daughters when they were still young, and they have passed that on to their daughters. My youngest is 34, my oldest is 39 and I enjoy them every chance I get. Thank you for the reminder of what I lost with my mother, but what I still have with my daughters, and what I have passed on for future generations.

  24. Linda Gagnon
    | Reply

    Wish you were still filming with your mom! I miss the two of you together. The love you have for each other is so apparent when you are together. It’s nice to hear you put it into words. You are both very lucky❤ Keep up the great writing – you make my day!

  25. […] was such a great day at the quilt show, I almost forgot I was flying solo. I sold out of my books and met too many terrific humans to count, including Laurie, who […]

  26. Marsha
    | Reply

    You are so fortunate to have such a great relationship with your mom. Just want you to know you are missed onTV. I record the show. Every week wishing to see you bubbly personality.

  27. Charlotte
    | Reply

    Shrieking eels! Best movie ever!
    I miss my Mum. She died before I really got to know her as a person. I hope my daughter and I have time to know each other as adults.

  28. Carmen
    | Reply

    What a lovely tribute. I also love spending time with my mom. I hope I’m that kind of mom when my kids are older, too.

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