Mother’s Day: Clark County Today staff pays tribute to their mothers

Happy Mother’s Day 2020 to all the mothers and grandmothers

Mother’s Day 2020 will not be quite the same as Mother’s Days past and, hopefully, in the future. The coronavirus pandemic has robbed many of us with opportunities to spend the day with our mothers, or at least the blessing of spending it within a distance of six feet.

Still, Mother’s Day is a day filled with a flood of emotions and memories. The staff at Clark County Today wanted to off our personal tributes to our own mothers. We hope you enjoy our thoughts and memories and feel free to share your own.


Every problem has a solution

Heidi Wetzler
Clark County Today administrator

Our family normally goes out to a special Mother’s Day brunch to honor my mom on Mother’s Day, as I’m sure most families do. But this Mother’s Day I’d say our plans are a little more telling of who my mom really is. She and my dad have largely been sheltering in place since this whole fiasco began. They are supposedly in the “vulnerable” category due to the decade of life they are in, but anyone who knows them would agree that they are surely the definition of the saying “age is just a number.”  

Clark County Today Administrator Heidi Wetzler (left) is shown here with her mother Anne Case. Photo courtesy of Heidi Wetzler
Clark County Today Administrator Heidi Wetzler (left) is shown here with her mother Anne Case. Photo courtesy of Heidi Wetzler

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but my mom is cooking her own Mother’s Day dinner and (my) favorite dessert this year. We are going to be served dinner by my “elderly” mother and sit on the back porch a safe distance away so we can at least be together. I’m not adding to the meal because I’m desperately afraid of inadvertently exposing them to this virus. But she’s nowhere near complaining, and I know she would happily do it this way anyway even if things were different. My mom has a generous spirit, a can-do attitude, and is a live-er of life. She enjoys the little things. And the big things. And is always right there if you need her. But if I had to pick a trait that rises to the top as I think of her, it would be her positivity. 

To her, every problem has a solution, and she’s going to smile all the way as she’s finding it. For every trial and challenge she just puts on her thinking cap and goes to work figuring out how to create the very best outcome. She’s helped me think through many a conundrum with love — and always hope.  I’ve heard hope defined as “Having Only Positive Expectations.” This is her. This is my mom. While she’s not the one I go to when I need a good pity partner, she is the one I turn to when I need a way out.  Thank you, mom, for your example and your tireless care and love!  I am richly, richly blessed. 


Share the sentiments all year round

Mike Schultz
Clark County Today photographer/videographer

My mother Suzann Schultz is a caring mother and grandmother. She taught me the value of being kind to people when I was young. She has always been a hard worker whether she was raising her four children or working at C-TRAN for 26 years. She has endured some pretty challenging times over the years and her strength is an inspiration.

Clark County Today photographer Mike Schultz is shown here with his mother Suzann Schultz. Photo courtesy of Mike Schultz
Clark County Today photographer Mike Schultz is shown here with his mother Suzann Schultz. Photo courtesy of Mike Schultz

Some of my favorite memories as a child were having some of her warm homemade bread with jam, going to the park to play and some of the many arts and crafts we tried. Making tie-dyed shirts was a highlight too.

Having a garden almost every year was fun except for pulling weeds. We would also go pick fruits and vegetables for canning and freezing. My mom always told us that the hard work would be appreciated in the middle of winter because we would have the food to eat. She was right. Nothing is better than home canned peaches.

I will see my mother this year from across her yard. It won’t be a typical Mother’s Day for sure. Mother’s Day is a great time to recognize your mother for everything she means to you, but I also like the idea of telling your mother how much she means to you all year round. I love you mom.


The right Mother’s Day Card

Andi Schwartz
Clark County Today webmaster/graphic designer

I always had a hard time finding just the right Mother’s Day card. They just never seemed to fit right for what my relationship with my mom was. I love my mom and I’m very blessed to have her in my life. But we’ve not been very close through the years. 

A very young Andi Schwartz is shown here with her mother Jeri. Photo courtesy of Andi Schwartz
A very young Andi Schwartz is shown here with her mother Jeri. Photo courtesy of Andi Schwartz

My parents divorced when I was 7 years old, so growing up was car rides to mom’s every other weekend, sleeping in sleeping bags and my brother and I always begging for mom to take us to the park after we ate cereal and watched morning cartoons. I remember her often having some kind of craft to do, drawing supplies or paints. And then it was back to our other life with our dad.

Due to the nature of our growing up years, and me moving on to my own crazy young adult years, my mom and I still didn’t spend a whole lot of time together. Yeah, I got myself into some situations. I don’t remember how, but she was there when I desperately needed help fleeing an abusive relationship. She even called my dad so together they could rescue me. I’ll never forget her doing that for me. And that would not be the only time she would step up to be there for me.

Three years ago, my husband and I adopted our now 9-year-old son. And last June, we welcomed our rainbow baby, a son I named Randy after my younger brother who passed away nine years ago this month. Both of those back stories have lots of hurt and sorrow for my dear mother, far beyond what I can imagine, especially now that I’m a mom of my own children. My heart breaks for her. But she pushes on like she’s always done.

Clark County Today graphic designer and webmaster Andi Schwartz (left) is shown here with her mother Jeri. Photo courtesy of Andi Schwartz
Clark County Today graphic designer and webmaster Andi Schwartz (left) is shown here with her mother Jeri. Photo courtesy of Andi Schwartz

Of course, during these strange times of not being able to see our families, I really miss my mom. I’m grateful that she doesn’t live too far away from me now. During a recent phone call, we both said we’d love to spend more time together when we can. And as I’m sitting here reflecting on Mother’s Day, I’m hopeful that it’s not too late to build that closeness with my mom. Often, when I hold my baby and wonder at his little fingers and toes, I imagine my mom holding me as a baby doing the same, and I feel sad that I’ve neglected to do that as of yet.

I just want to say to my mom Jeri … I love you so much! I know you’ve always been there for me and always will be. I recognize the sacrifices you’ve had to make, the pain you’ve felt during your motherhood. I want you to know that I’m here for you too! I’m so grateful you get to be grandma to our boys, that they can spend time with you and get to know you. 

So, if you have a strained relationship with your mom, it’s never too late to take steps to mend it. I encourage you to pray about it and give it a try. I know I am, and am looking forward to giving my mom a big hug and telling her how much I love her and need her in my life. 


The anchor of my life

Jacob Granneman
Clark County Today reporter/filmmaker

I’m her son. And she’s my mom. This has always been the anchor of my life. My childhood. My personality. The way I talk. She has had so much to do with, well, me.

My mom’s name is Sheri. No, not like the pie place. (She hates that) My mom is Sheri Granneman. Mrs. Granneman, as some of my earliest childhood friends still call her to this day. (She loves that.) 

Sheri Granneman, shown here, is the mother of Clark County Today reporter Jacob Granneman.
Sheri Granneman, shown here, is the mother of Clark County Today reporter Jacob Granneman.

She loves peanut butter everything, listens to the best 80s music and would do anything for my brother and I. I believe that is why we are all still so close. She lived every moment of our childhoods with tremendous love, devotion and sacrifice. 

I love my mom. Not because it’s the thing you do, but because she has always been herself. She was my mother first, then my parent and wise counsel, and now she is, truly, my dearest friend. (Well, one of, my dad’s alright too.)

She never had to have children. She never had to be a mom first and worker second. She never had to bring two boys into the world who would grow into men. But she did. Because she wanted us. She wanted me. 

My mom has always given strong wisdom. She never sugar coats anything (except Christmas toffee) and has always pushed me to simply do my best. Not perfection, which as we both know is not our destiny. 

My mom showed me the abandoned love of Jesus everyday of my life, and she still does. I’m her son. And she’s my mom. And she always will be. Thanks mom. I love you.  


A single day hardly seems sufficient

Chris Brown
Clark County Today reporter/video host

What can you say about a woman who raised eight children, homeschooled them all, and still managed to cook, clean, and educate herself on any number of topics?

A single day hardly seems sufficient, but I’ll do my best.

My mom is truly one of the kindest, most selfless people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. She gives of herself, of her finances, of her wisdom, and of her zest for knowledge. 

Judie Brown raised eight children, all homeschooled, and still looks this good. Photo courtesy Judie Brown
Judie Brown raised eight children, all homeschooled, and still looks this good. Photo courtesy Judie Brown

Perhaps the journalism bug that bit me came first for my mother who was, and remains, a voracious reader with an appetite for understanding. From nutrition, to online marketing, to politics, and many things in-between, she is tireless in her quest for knowledge.

She comes by it naturally.

Grandma BJ Schulte, who just celebrated birthday number 89, is likewise a generous, kind-and-warm-hearted soul with a love of life, books, writing, and her family.

I’ve also been blessed with an incredible mother-in-law, who graced me with a wife and mother to our own children. Katriina fills me with pride as I watch her interact with our two girls. Her grace, wisdom, and desire to love and teach amaze and inspire me.

Chris Brown’s wife Katriina, with their daughters Leslie and Evelyn. Photo by Chris Brown
Chris Brown’s wife Katriina, with their daughters Leslie and Evelyn. Photo by Chris Brown

In short, much of what I am stems from watching these incredible, tireless women. They have made me better in so many ways, and I would be very much worse off without them.

Happy Mother’s Day. Heck, happy mother’s every day.


A perfect combination

Paul Valencia
Clark County Today reporter

An incredible nurse.

A Raider fan.

A loving mom and grandmother.

Well, that’s a perfect combination.

Jody Valencia was a nurse for more than 45 years before retiring in Vancouver and has been a Raider fan since the beginning of the franchise in 1960. Photo courtesy Jenny Valencia
Jody Valencia was a nurse for more than 45 years before retiring in Vancouver and has been a Raider fan since the beginning of the franchise in 1960. Photo courtesy Jenny Valencia

Jody Valencia spent more than 45 years as a nurse, helping to bring life into the world. First in California, then in Oregon.

I was pretty young when she took her experience to Providence Portland when that hospital opened its maternity center. At the time, there were only three or four rooms. She helped it grow to an entire floor.

My mom was there from the beginning until her retirement.

My older siblings had moved out, so in my early teens it was me and mom. A lot of movies. A lot of restaurants. And at least once every couple of months, someone would come up to her to thank her. 

“Hey, you were my nurse!”

The pride I felt, knowing how my mom touched so many lives.

She would then see two of her grandchildren born at Providence, with her great friends as doctors and nurses. 

Many who know me, personally or through social media, know that the Raiders mean a lot to my family, as well.

Well, my mom was there from the beginning of the Oakland Raiders. A lifer. She was at the Heidi Game in 1968! 

In 2015, my wife, son, and I spent Christmas Eve with my mom at a Raider game.

In 2018, she wanted one more trip to the Coliseum. In all, there were 15 family members, with my mom, on Christmas Eve again.

She moved to Vancouver after retiring from nursing and can be seen in Silver and Black every Sunday during football season.


Something more valuable than any material item

Ken Vance
Clark County Today editor

Mother’s Day just hasn’t been the same for me for the past 16 years. My mother, Donna Vance, passed away in October of 2004 at the age of 76. Like many of you who have lost your mother, I haven’t “gotten over’’ my mom’s death. I certainly accept that it’s part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. 

Donna Vance, mother of Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance, is shown here with her grandson Joseph Vance on the Zoo Train at the Oregon Zoo. Photo courtesy of Ken Vance
Donna Vance, mother of Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance, is shown here with her grandson Joseph Vance on the Zoo Train at the Oregon Zoo. Photo courtesy of Ken Vance

My mom and dad, Roy Vance, were married for 47 years prior to his death six years before my mom’s passing. I didn’t grow up with an abundance of worldly possessions. Sure, I was like most children, I wanted for things, and even though our household income was always modest by any standard, if I wanted a certain pair or shoes, an item of clothing, a piece of sports equipment or apparel badly enough, they somehow managed to get it for me. That wasn’t always the case for my three older brothers. There were rewards to being the youngest.

My parents gave me something more valuable than any material item. It’s something so many in this world aren’t blessed with. I’m talking about 47 years of parents who remained married, who never divorced, never separated. I’m so thankful for that and, as much as I love my dad equally as much as I love my mom, my mother deserves much more of the credit for that than my dad. I will leave it at that.

My mother obviously had many admirable, wonderful traits that I could go on and on about. She spent many of her years as a cook in the Stevenson-Carson School District. My friends and fellow students loved her and she loved them. I remember one time when I was in high school, I stopped by the elementary school where she worked and while I was visiting with her in the middle of the afternoon while most children were in class, two young girls stopped by the kitchen, quiet and empty at that time of the day, just because they missed my mom and wanted to see her and tell her hi.

The students and my friends weren’t the only ones who loved my mom. I can honestly say that I can’t think of anyone who didn’t like her. In her later years, my mom and the mother of one of my best friends, were by default the social committee of their small church — organizing their small gatherings and my mom and others worked countless hours making quilts for the graduating high school seniors in that church so they could have a warm, handmade quilt to take with them on whatever journey they were set to begin.

The one trait I can never omit when I’m sharing my memories of my mother is how selfless she was. She was the wife and mother of a man and four boys who were far from helpful at times. My mom, seemingly, worked from the time she got up in the morning until the time she fell exhausted into bed. She never spent a dime on herself that could go to someone else. She even made her own clothes to save money.

And, of course, my mom was a wonderful grandmother.

I could go on and on. Let me just say, like my fellow Clark County Today colleagues, I was very blessed to have the mother I did. 

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