Sweet Jane


I’ve been wanting to write a Mother’s Day post about my sweet mom for a couple months now. The more I think about it, however, the more my thinking has turned to fretting. I want to say so many things and make this tribute to my mother the most beautiful, insightful, ground-breaking thing she has ever read that now...now I’m pretty sure it’s going to fall short. I’m 99% positive that this rainbow of love bursting out of my chest is going to smack against my computer monitor and come out the other side as a disjointed and clichéd Hallmark card.

So, what follows is definitely not the best, and probably not the second best, but it’s my valiant effort to share a few reasons why my mother is special and how through her strengths and weaknesses she has had a solid hand in shaping the best parts of me.


(She let me play dress up one more time by giving me her wedding dress to wear on my own special day. We're not going to mention that I had to let out most of the seams...)

Sweet Jane

My mom’s name is Jane. And yes, she is very sweet. But even though I desperately wanted to reference The Velvet Underground, “sweet” isn’t the word I would use for my momma. She’s an energetic, hard-working, go-getter. And that’s absolutely one of my favorite things about her. I like to joke that my spirit animal is a bumble bee because I’m always buzzing around and love to be productive.

But if I am a bumble bee, my mom is queen bee. She can organize a troop of volunteers in the amount of time it takes me to fully wake up and pour a cup of coffee. She can write a grant proposal while organizing a donor luncheon and at the same time listen to me cry about how my bathroom scale is plotting against me to overthrow my entire self-esteem (that scale took a trip to the dumpster and will never be heard of again). She can multi-task and still sincerely listen like no one I’ve ever known.


After reading that paragraph, one thing you may have guessed about my mom is that she is a social worker who founded a nonprofit organization that aids and supports community growth in our hometown of Columbia, Missouri. One thing you probably didn’t guess, however, is that she is completely blind.

After saying that or typing that or even reading that, I always have to pause and take a deep breath. ••• She wasn’t always blind. And sometimes it still feels very new and raw. Two and a half years ago, through two failed surgeries, my Sweet Jane lost her vision.

I can’t sugarcoat this one. It really sucked. It still really sucks. Aside from the hundreds of ways it has impacted her daily life, my mom has always been my biggest fan and loudest cheerleader. For most of my life I have found a significant part of my identity in the visual art that I create. I LOVED drawing a picture, then running to my mom knowing she would gasp and say, “Oh, Suzy! How do you do it?? This is BEAUTIFUL! How did I get such a talented daughter?”


When my mom lost her sight, our relationship lost a huge part of its foundation as well. I needed her to stroke my fragile artist’s ego and she wanted to partake in all that I was creating. We were in unknown territory and needed to find common ground again.

As a full-time graphic designer, I struggled to describe logos, books and websites I was designing. I began avoiding the subject because of the obvious frustration we both felt over my shockingly small vocabulary and terrible use of descriptive adjectives, “So the background is gray-ish, and there is a roundish thing in the middle and a leafy-bubble on top and some text running through all of it.” She would still say, “Sounds beautiful! I can tell it’s so amazing!”

Trust me, she tried to pick up what I was putting down, but I wasn’t put’n it down very well. About this time I began quilting again after a long absence from sewing. Then one day, while I was home visiting, something pretty magical happened. I brought a quilt to my mom’s house after getting it freshly longarm quilted. Thinking I would just run it upstairs and out of the way, my mom stopped me to ask if she could feel it.​


Watching my mom run her hands over my quilt, feeling the stitching and participating in my art again brought me such a sudden bolt of joy, I was speechless. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I was making something again that we could both enjoy and experience.

I still struggle to describe patterns and designs, but now that I’m creating a work of art that is tactile and full of movement, I have some leeway. Now I can say things like, “Here, move your hand over this part. Can you feel the hand stitching? Those are blue and make the shape of a wonky triangle type thing. Can you feel that?”


Jane The Writer

Another reason I was fretting over writing this blog post is because my Sweet Jane is a very, VERY good writer. Much better than me. I was even tempted to just ask her to write this whole thing herself guised as a Q&A. But, I thought, if I’m going to at all attempt a personal tribute, I should probably write most of it myself.

However, because she is such a good writer and a doer, she couldn’t help herself and wrote something anyway. This is from my amazing mom:

“Mrs. Williams, you have a beautiful daughter.” I still thrill as I recall these words spoken to me by my obstetrician at Suzy’s birth. In 1985, expectant parents rarely learned the gender of their child and I had been secretly hoping for a girl. We already had a wonderful son and this was going to be my last pregnancy. After a long history of retinal detachments and one occurring earlier in this pregnancy, my doctor said I should probably avoid getting pregnant again. I took his advice and got to have 29 sighted years with my son and 27 years with Suzy. Not as much as what I would have liked but I am eternally grateful for what I was given.

Suzy always had a distinctive flair. As she began writing her full name, Suzanne, she always ended it with a giant E. We never knew exactly why. It was just part of who she was. From a young age, I knew Suzy had a calling to make the world more beautiful. Whether it was using her crayons to make a “mural” on the living room wall or pick flowers she shouldn’t have to decorate the house, she was always up to beauty. Suzy learned to French braid her hair almost as soon as she learned to tie her shoes and experimented with hair color to the point of near disaster (orange was not in vogue in the 90’s). Then came her first high school art teacher and her “quilt mother” Brenda Winkelmeyer. And the panorama began.

You name the art form and Suzy tried it but her heart always came back to quilting. I still have dozens of her early quilts etched in my mind. Now I “see” them through her verbal descriptions and “hand-guided” tours of the textures and shapes. I am totally taking credit for launching her into quilt pattern making. She spent so much time describing the details to me, I think, at some point, she decided she might as well describe them to everyone else too.

Now my eyes can only truly see into Suzy’s heart and what I see is a beauty crusader. I am pretty sure she is determined to blanket the whole earth with new combinations of shapes and colors. Her message is: the possibilities (for all of us) are Endless. Maybe that is what the big E was all about.


40 thoughts on “Sweet Jane

  1. Angela O'Rourke says:

    Such a beautiful tribute and wow, what a woman!! Even saying this sounds trite, because she deserves every superlative that was ever written! The happiest of Mother’s Days to your sweet Mother Jane!

    • Suzy says:

      Thank you, Angela. That means so much! She is amazing and I’m sure she’s going to read this comments and feel so much love 🙂

  2. Chris Martin says:

    How wonderful it is to see your sweet mama and you through each other’s eyes and hearts! What glorious talents you have each been given by God, and the amazing things you both do with those talents is your gift back to God and humanity. It’s been ages since we have seen Ken’s cousin Jane, and yet it seems like such a short time ago. How blessed we feel by all that you, Suzy, and your sweet mama Jane do for others. God bless you!

  3. Brenda Winkelmeyer says:

    I hope the fact that I am a friend of Jane Williams influences God when the time comes and that my basement sewing room served as a kind of labor and delivery room for her daughter makes Him smile too. Love you both.

  4. Margaret Koppenaal says:

    I love you and your mother so much. I can’t begin to describe what Jane means to me and our family. But Sweet Jane is not a bad summary. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and love for your beautiful Mom. You are both pretty special. (And of course I love your Dad, your husband, brother, daughter-in-law and that gorgeous baby! Not a bad family! 🙂

  5. Joan Smith says:

    This is beautiful! Jane is a remarkable woman who works tirelessly to help those in need in our community. She is also proud of her Suzy’s artistic talent and of her entire family. Bless you!

  6. Jaquita Foulks says:

    Wow! I cried and cried and cried,that was AMAZING as well as TOUCHING,I am so sorry that you feel that way,i met you once and i do admit that you have a very sweet spirit yourself just like sweet Jane! My heart goes out to you guys,i love her very much and ALWAYS will,have a bless day……hugs and love

  7. Diane Torres says:

    Thank you, Suzy, for this wonderful tribute to your Mom! Have known Jane since we moved to Missouri in 1976 AND remember the special day you were born! 🙂 Jane has the God-given gift of making people feel they are special and accepted. How many times she encouraged and given me Hope! Don’t have time or space to write of all her attributes! She is loved by all who have the privilege of knowing her. You are following her footsteps! Much Love and many Blessings to you both.

  8. Amanda Ward says:

    Oh, Suzy. This post is just beautiful. If my children feel a fraction of this kind of love for me when they’re grown, I’d feel like the luckiest woman alive. Thank you for sharing such a touching story. xo

  9. Dee says:

    Such precious showing of love, sweet Suzy! Our American history celebrates the creation of beautiful quilts as a covert yet effective mode of communication. I Praise GOD & Thank you & Sweet Jane for sharing how our legacy continues to bring hope in spite of adversity!

  10. Marilyn Teegarden says:

    Suzy this article was so touching. . I thank God everyday for the Williams family. . A true friend is what I call your mom. ..she has been through so much with me and not once has she ever turned her back on me…thanks again so much for sharing this… love ya

  11. Kim says:

    Suzy! You are beautiful just like your Momma! Thank you for sharing this tribute to your Mom and for caring on her legacy of beauty and grace with your own unique voice and expression. I sure do love you Williams ladies!

  12. Terry says:

    I think you described your mom so perfectly. She is an amazing woman and I am thankful I got to call her neighbor and friend for so many years. Her ability to listen to your heart and encourage you while administrating and fulfilling so many needs of others is amazing. How she can be burdened for so many needs yet find joy and laughter waiting for God’s provision is faith building. Your “potty reading time” picture is priceless. That is Jane…taking every moment to bring life and joy. I pray she is encouraged by your story. You both bring beauty to life.

  13. Heather says:

    Just found your blog so I”m late to comment….Wow! What a beautiful tribute to your mom, and what a beautiful tribute she gave to you too. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. : )

  14. Michelle Romanowski says:

    Suze! This is such a beautiful post! It brought tears to my eyes, my friend! What a precious relationship you two have and what an incredible journey. I have always admired your giftings, beautiful talent and spunky fun personality – this is yet another quality to admire! Your dedication to your mom and your heart to have her involved in what you do and love is beautiful! I am honored to call you friend and fellow collaborator! =)

    • Suzy says:

      awwww M! You’re make’n me blush! Thank’s so much for taking the time to read my ramblings. You are such a sweet friend and fellow creative thinker. xo

  15. Jordan Slice-Metcalfe says:

    This is such a beautiful post! I was reading your Barn Quilts post (loved it) and meandered here from the link. Your mother sounds absolutely amazing! You certainly have her gift of lovely writing – I love following your blog and laughing along with each post. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

  16. Dawn Chenault says:

    This is a beautiful tribute and speaks volumes about you and your mother’s character. I admire that there is no bitterness, blame or complaining from either of you. I pray I can see and celebrate the talents and qualities in my children that make them who they are and not focus on the things about them that make me crazy!
    Thank you for sharing.

  17. Lorna says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing about your wonderful mom. I love that you two can connect over your quilts.

  18. Brooke says:

    I am crying! You couldn’t have written a more beautiful love letter to your Mama. I love you even more!

  19. Leah pearl orchard says:

    This was a beautiful blog post. Both you and your mother are talented writers and I really enjoyed the read. I can only imagine how grateful your mom feels that you guys found a way to connect over art again! And I love what she said, “I am pretty sure she is determined to blanket the whole earth with new combinations of shapes and colors.“ your quilts are insipiring to me. I love your detail and I am always excited to open my inbox or Instagram when you’ve got a new post!

  20. Ellen says:

    Thanks Suzy for sharing your Mom with us. Mom’s are so special and deserve all the alcolades we can give them.❤️😎

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