As this evening wanes, I find myself thinking about the mothers in my life and what they’ve given me. I realize that each one has touched my life in a unique way. Here’s just a little of it:

Sally Thomas, my mother (pictured foreground, far right), not only gave me life: she gave me a zest for it. She was the whirlwind who was a constant in my life, who taught me that anything can be made beautiful with effort and thought. She’s also the amazing force who taught me how to transform any space from disaster to fantastic in record time. Any of you who’ve dropped by the barn on the Thursday before a sale know EXACTLY what I’m talking about!

She’s also the one who dragged my sisters and me through antique shops and decorator showrooms almost constantly. I knew Lee Joffa before I knew Disney. (My mother LOVES Lee Joffa; can’t stand Disney.)   She also taught me to treat everyone with respect and kindness.  And she really wishes that I’d learned more of her fashion sense than I have…

My Grandmother Thomas, looking elegant into her 80s, wearing her pearls, as she did almost every day of her life.

Virginia Thomas, my paternal grandmother, in whose home I now live, taught me the joy of accomplishing something every day.  Every Sunday she prepared  a delicious meal on a table spread with polished silver, sparkling crystal, and fresh-cut flowers, while entertaining everyone and appearing not to be working at all.   She really didn’t know how not to be gracious.

I also attribute my love of driving and road trips to her. She would wake my sisters and me in the morning, the picnic basket already full (right down to the red-checked tablecloth), announcing that we were going on a drive. We’d pile into her car and take off at a roaring speed. We’d learn about fascinating historic sites, homes, and people, eat her superb Maryland fried chicken in some charming spot she’d picked for our picnic, and always return as the sun was setting.

I also learned from her that, “The biggest room in the world is room for improvement.” And I have come to understand, as I’ve grown older, what she meant when she gave her highest compliment to a woman: “She never complains.” As a child I just didn’t get it. As a woman, I understand exactly what she meant.

My Grandmother Smith, who stood no more than 4’11”, had the most impeccable manners and taste of anyone I’ve ever known.

Jeannette Smith, my maternal grandmother, instilled in me the importance of being a lady. While she would be appalled by my daily attire of jeans and t-shirt (though she would never say so!), she did teach me the difference between a well-cut suit and a cheap one, the elegance of handmade Italian shoes, and the importance of quality over quantity.

And did I mention that she lived in NYC for much of my youth?  Staying with her and my Aunt Barbara during our frequent trips into The City were a high point of my young life. My love of exceptional retail experiences was formed under her tutelage.

Mother Crum, who intimidated me when I first met her, became one of my dearest friends. How many of you can say that of your mother-in-law?!

Mary Frances Crum, my mother-in-law, taught me how to gracefully let go of  mistakes and forge ahead to be the person you choose to be. She also taught me how short life is, and to treasure every moment with those you love.

My mother, Sally Thomas, with my father, Charles Thomas, smiling her joyful smile.

Most of all, thank you to my dear mother, who put up with the worst of me in order to bring out the best in me.

Take a moment and think about what the mothers in your life have taught/given you.  I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading,

Virginia Jeannette Thomas Crum