My Mom Yvonne Rall Died Last Night

It is tempting, when a parent dies, to center your remembrance of them through the lens of your relationship to them as a child.

Self-centered as we are — at least as self-centered as I am — we ignore their individuality in favor of their effect upon us, especially the things that they taught us.

My mother, who died last night at the age of 84 (I always knew she would die midwinter, she so hated the Midwest’s relentless cloud cover), of course taught me many things. She was supposed to.

She raised me alone so she did some of the things that fathers were supposed to do too.

She taught me how to ride a bike, running and hanging onto the back of the banana seat of my Schwinn and then letting it go when she thought I was balanced properly, urging me back on after I fell, insistent that I keep doing it until I got it right which of course I did after some scrapes.

When we figured out that I had an interest in cartooning, she took me to the now-long-closed Fernandez art supply store at Town and Country shopping center, bought me “fancy” paper and then showed me how to make my own comic book by holding the pages and cutting them and stapling them together.

She taught me things her generation mistakenly believed that my generation would need, like ballroom dancing. I balanced atop her feet as she showed me the steps in our living room, music playing on records she later gave away without asking me along with the colonial-style console stereo system. We laughed.

She messed things up too. When the long-haired blonde girl from the supermarket checkout gave me a ride home, my mom came out of the house to see why I was taking so long to come inside. Rapping on the window with her knuckles, she cried: “What are you doing?” So much for my first kiss. Parents are supposed to mess things up.

So many memories, too many to share, boring to anyone but me, swirling around right now. Soon I will share the ones you might care about. Personal stories only have relevance if they have relevance.

For now she deserves to be remembered more than the mother of Ted Rall the Cartoonist, and that’s how I’m going to write her obituary. She was a remarkable person with an interesting life in her own right, a woman who had an impact on thousands of people, and not just her students. That woman deserves to be celebrated.

She was cool as shit, striding toward me waving her arms at me in her white men’s Levi’s hiphuggers (they didn’t sell jeans for women yet), a bright smile and a kiss, asking me how was school.

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About Ted Rall

Ted Rall is the political cartoonist at, editor-in-chief of, a graphic novelist and author of many books of art and prose, and an occasional war correspondent. He is the author of the biography "Trump," to be published in July 2016.

18 thoughts on “My Mom Yvonne Rall Died Last Night

  1. Ted,

    “The busy world is hushed,
    and the fever of life is over,
    and our work is done.”

    My deepest condolences to you.

  2. My deepest sympathies to you, Ted. I’m about the same age as you with parents about the same age as your mother. I know it’s going to be hard to take when it happens.

  3. Ted:

    May she now rest in peace. You have the lovely memories of her to sustain you. My father is struggling, at 91, with the late stages of a death he welcomes now. But our society will not let him choose to die, so he suffers.

    Neil Murray

  4. I had the privilege of teaching with your mother during her last two years at Centerville High School. She was splendid and joyful. One of my good friends who also teaches in Dayton was her student teacher and said it was a transformative experience. She was proud of you and proud of being from Brittany! She will be missed.

  5. Ted,

    I taught Spanish with your mom, who taught French, for a number of years at Centerville High School. She acted as a mentor to me as a young teacher and I can never thank her enough for all of her help over the first ten years of my career. My wife and I have often thought of her and wondered what she was up to and this news is crushing. She was such a kindhearted, caring woman who always had time to talk to you no matter how busy you were. Heaven definitely gained an angel when they welcomed your mother through the Pearly Gates. She will be greatly missed and just know it was not just the students whom she had a tremendous impact on during her years at CHS.


  6. I’m sorry to hear this. But am looking forward to hearing more about your kickass French mom(as the daughter of a French mom, who I would not describe as kickass, enfin).

  7. My condolences as well. Your depictions really brought across the spark of life in her, even at the end.

  8. Your stories and cartoons about your mom are anything but boring, Ted. You honor her memory by using your talent to give these to us in heartwarming and entertaining fashion. Condolences on her passing.

  9. I’m so sorry to read this, Ted, but thank you so much for sharing. I know I can’t say anything to make things better, really; but, as my own parents are approaching that age, please know that I’m thinking of you.


  10. I have known Yvonne literally all of my life. Although Ted and I haven’t seen each other since we played as children, your mother was an integral part of my family. She was my mother’s best friend and was always present at our table through the holidays. She was interested to learn all she could about how things were going. Although it is true that her piercing questions could be annoying to a young man, she never meant malice by it. Of course age improved my understanding of her nature and she has always been cherished in my heart. Yes she had a biting tongue and although you endured an unorthodox childhood, I’m glad you ended as friends. My heart goes out to you Ted. Your mother will never be forgotten in our family. As long as myself and my children live there will not be a holiday that your mother’s spirit will not be with us..

  11. I’m just catching up with your posts, and so am only now getting this news. If there’s a “Heaven” (which, honestly, I doubt) our mothers are having a great reunion…or, if the Buddhists have it right, perhaps your Mom is now my Mom’s younger sibling, or somebody who’s going to be her friend later on down the line. It’s obvious from who you’ve turned out to be that she was a good person and a good mother. Carry on!