Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ambassador Mom

When my mom was a young girl growing up in snowy South Bend, she dreamed of far away places. Not merely visiting them mind you; no, her dream was to be the U.S. ambassador there.

After she graduated from Purdue, the dream drove her to Washington DC, where she got a job at State as a secretary. Then she met a handsome Annapolis grad about to go to war and got sidetracked for a bit ... wife, two boys, houses to keep up.

Still, Dad was in Naval Intelligence, so we got embassy postings in Turkey followed by Japan ... she was still in the glow of her dream.

After my parents' divorce, Mom became a celebrity of sorts in Tokyo, writing a column for the largest English-language paper for decades until she married her ex-diplomat boyfriend Bill when she was 80 and moved with him back inside the Beltway. (That's Mom and Bill in the photo.)

So imagine my choked-up pride when I got this email last night from Bill:
Dear Laer:

I'm writing because I wanted to tell you that your Mom and I just came home from the annual Japan America Society dinner, this time rather special because it was the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Society here in Washington. Our speaker was former Vice President, former Ambassador to Japan, Walter Mondale.

He mentioned numerous people who have played roles in Japan American affairs and who were with him during his time in Japan and then wound up with a tribute to "the best diplomat of them all, Jean Pearce." Thunderous applause and a rather startled Jean. I was so pleased since I've been saying the same thing for so many years -- she really did do more for the cause of better understanding between the two countries than anyone else I know -- and for thirty-eight years to boot.

I thought you should know and she's too modest to tell you herself. Nevertheless, she surely will treasure the moment. I told Fritz Mondale how happy he had made her (and me) and his response was simply that "every word of it was true."

My long time admiration for him has been amply fortified.

Best, Bill
That's my mom! The most amazing woman I (and many, many others) have ever met.

What a joy for her to have this recognition among her friends and peers when she's still healthy and vital and can fully enjoy it.

Mondale was a great ambassador to Japan, and to him, a big thank you for giving my mom the honor she so justly deserves.