Last week, I lost my mom, Margaret Jean Young. She died quickly of a heart attack. She was at her back door getting her three cats inside from the cold. Up until her last day, she was full of energy and sharp as a machete. I miss her dearly.
My mom was tough. She had a difficult childhood in rural Florida, growing up on a farm without running water or electricity. At 36, she had two restive kids, a deadbeat ex-husband, and no job. We lived in a shitty apartment in Jacksonville, FL. She worked and worked, and eventually clawed her way out of Florida, moved us to Maryland, and started her own public relations firm. She ran that company, Young & Associates, for 30 years. It’s still standing.
My mom was universally loved. She had insanely loyal friends and a large, supportive community. No one ever forgot her once they met her. She was funny and charming and refreshingly honest. She cussed a lot. She was a true, old school southern progressive (a rare breed): she didn’t trust cops (or really any authority) and absolutely despised Trump.
My mom was my best friend, my fiercest ally, and a consistent voice of unyielding support. She’s the reason I started playing music: she roped me into piano lessons at six, bought me my first four-track at 14. After that, she just encouraged me to be creative. She always pushed me to do what scared me, from when I was a neurotic wreck playing my first talent show, to opening, and expanding, Tiny Telephone.
My mom was my mentor. Everything I learned about running a business, I learned from her. She was my role model, my teacher, and my hero. She was the first person in her family to go to college, and then topped that by getting a masters in journalism at UCLA.
Many of you know my Mom from my shows. I’ve introduced her to audiences at least a dozen times: at Cat’s Cradle, 9:30 Club, Black Cat, Bowery Ballroom. I even brought her on stage a few times--that was my favorite thing to do on tour. Once, while walking in Chapel Hill, someone recognized and offered her a high-five. Because she was awesome, she high-fived them back.
I adored her and she adored me.