I spent the day with my mom — dreaming, laughing and planning.
From her I get my love of adventure. My mom has a fun, adventurous spirit, and looks for the positive in the face of challenges.
Thinking about her strength, courage and resilience naturally makes me think about my Grandmother and where we come from.
Gary and I named our company, Joma Films, after our grandparents: Gary’s grandfather, Joy Cummings, and my grandmother, Ma e Marshall.
Joma is pronounced /jō-mə/ and rhymes with roma.
Gary’s middle name is Joy after his grandfather. Our daughter’s middle name is Mae.
Mae and Joy were both adventurers. They were optimists, joyful, full of life and creative despite very challenging life circumstances.
Mae lost her mother as a teen and then a few years later lost her husband in the war in 1942. At the time, she was pregnant with my mother. Mae’s family was determined to give the baby up for adoption thinking she couldn’t raise the child on her own, so Mae ran away from home with her infant daughter.
Joy’s dad left home when Joy was only twelve leaving behind six kids. As the eldest, Joy became responsible for feeding the family. All year round, even in the cold Minnesota winters, Joy hunted, fished, trapped and sold hides to keep his siblings and mother fed.
Joy became a pastor, traveling salesman and ventriloquist. He was the life of the party, with sparkling eyes, the biggest smile and heartiest laugh. Joy lived up to his name. He took care of people in need with grace and gentleness, was optimistic and loving.
Mae was born during the Great Depression in tornado alley in Wichita, Kansas. She traveled west with her family for a better life in Washington state. When I read the Grapes of Wrath, I imagined it as her family’s journey.
Mae was the misfit of her family, always writing and drawing, with little support. She wrote a novel when she was twelve.
During the war, my grandma worked as an airplane mechanic, because all the men were at war and the women had small hands which could access airplane engines.
She owned the toolbox in the family. She tore down walls, sheetrocked, painted and gardened. She was a seamstress, artist and writer. She continued writing books until she could no longer see and hoped they might be made into movies.
Through heartache, tragedy, setbacks and challenges, both Joy and Mae talked of the future with hope and spoke of people with love. They didn’t understand when others couldn’t see the love in someone, even in those deemed “less lovable” by society.
Gary and I were both fortunate to meet and love each other’s grandparents.
Grandpa Joy performed our wedding ceremony, and I remember many dinners filled with laughter listening to his stories and jokes.
When Gary and I lived in a cabin in the woods in Northern California near my family,
every Sunday we would drive into town and visit my Grandma, attending what we called, The Church of Mae Marshall. She’d tell stories and give us advice.
They were wise… wise with the kind of wisdom earned through hardship and then choosing to embrace courage, joy and love.
Their lives were hard, tumultuous, and unpredictable. Yet they chose trust.
When encouraging our dreams, they’d said “go for it” instead of “be careful”.
Their examples instilled us with core beliefs allowing us to take risks and be brave.
We named our company after Joy and Mae so that we will always remember — to choose joy, love, compassion and courage even when things get hard.
And to also remember to always be thankful, because we truly do have so much.