In an effort to change the subject of the conversation with two shootings in Muscatine in the past week, a friend of mine simply asked, “Tell me your good news.”

And people did.

I got to hear about an eager freshman starting in the Muskie Marching Band, a daughter going off to college, the beauty of a walk at Discovery Center Park, a pregnancy, a new location for a local business, several new homes, births of children, weddings and more. I got to see pictures from the Muscatine County Fair, the Muscatine Special Olympics Summer Games and hear about random acts of kindness.

And thank you Muscatine for allowing the Muscatine Journal to share your good news. Please keep sending us your photos for our Faces and Places and Friends and Family features. Submit them to

So today, I wanted to do the same and share a tale with you. It’s my good news.

Last week, for whatever reason seemed especially challenging. It was one of those days where nothing seems to go quite right and I arrived at the office with more to do than time to do it.

It seemed that while I had been away, Journal customer Nancy Wangberg had dropped by and left something behind. That something instantly brought tears to my eyes.

I was young, just 5 years old when my mother passed away from complications from Type 1 diabetes. She had struggled with it since childhood, always wanting to eat something she couldn’t, to be normal and to do what all of her friends could. And while the memories I have of my mother are few and far between, it’s interesting that I do remember her spirit. I remember she was fun. It’s one of those things that has been reinforced throughout my lifetime with the many stories that her friends and family have shared. The biggest compliment people pay me is to tell me I remind them of her when I smile.

She loved the stage. She recruited me at a young age to join her in the JC Penney’s fashion shows at the Muscatine Mall and made sure I got signed up for dance lessons. Later in life, I remember feeling like nobody else in my family understood the side of me that wanted to perform, that wanted to smile under the lights and entertain a crowd, yet I always knew where I got it from, and I knew that she was always watching.

My mother was involved with Muscatine Masquers before her death, a local theatre group that has since disbanded. I recall some of her cast mates coming to her funeral and sharing that they were going to name an award after her and that it would be given to someone each year that embodied her positive spirit.

The group kept a plaque that would be displayed at shows and name plates were added. Last week, the first plaque made its way to my office thanks to the keen eye of Nancy who had discovered it at the Don Lewis sale, ironically just up the street from the house where I grew up.

I knew instantly what it was. To me, it represents more than a memory, it represents the spirit my mother carried with her, and the one I have inside of me. When I thanked Nancy, her response said it all, “Sometimes we don’t get enough reminders of the wonderful gifts our mothers left to us.”

Thank you, Nancy. I shall treasure it always.