My Mom – Lillian Victoria Sundquist Pigman

She was barely five feet tall. She often told me she weighed as much as a sack of flour. Her eyes were as blue as the skies on a clear day. She was my Mom, Lillian Victoria Sundquist Pigman. Her parents, Andrew and Amanda Sundquist arrived in America from Sweden in the spring of 1904, bringing with them their eight year old son, Axel. They settled in Minneapolis but soon found a home site one-and-one-half-miles south of Cushing. On April 5, 1906, their little baby girl was born in the simple two room house that Andrew had just built for the family. Andrew was a carpenter who built many houses and other structures in the Cushing and Parkertown area. He also worked on construction projects in other cities such as Duluth and Red Wing. This left Amanda alone with her children much of the time in a new country where everything was unfamiliar. She spoke no English, but Cushing was being settled primarily by Scandinavians, and her brother Peter and his family lived on an adjoining farm.

When Lily was eleven years old, Andrew drowned in Fish Trap Lake a few miles from Cushing. Axel, being twenty-one years old, was away from the farm much of the time. Lily became her mother’s close companion as they carried out the farm chores of milking cows and caring for chickens. When Amanda visited neighbors, went to town, or to worship at Bethany Lutheran Church, Lily was there with her. It is probably because of this early exposure to so many adults, who were really the pioneers of Cushing, that Lily became one of the community’s best historians. She had also inherited an incredible memory from her mother’s (Nordlund) side of the family. I gave her a spiral bound notebook to keep handy on her dining room table and asked her to write down memories as they came to her. I now have many pages of stories that I will no longer hear from her personally. Mom died on April 11, just six days after her 92nd birthday, a milestone she had hoped to reach.

I was blessed with parents that every child should have. Where we lived didn’t really matter. My parents were always there for me. This was especially true of my mother. But my favorite memories of her relate to her impish humor and her love of surprises. Christmas gifts and the secrets accompanying them were a big deal in our family. She carried the excitement of the holiday through to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She loved show business and told of earning ten cents hoeing garden so she could attend a vaudeville show. She kept lists of entertainers and especially loved comedians and musicians. Charlie Chaplin was one of her favorites. And it wasn’t unusual for family and friends to be treated to a bit of her own brand of vaudeville, complete with a mustache applied with soot from under the lid of the kitchen range.

Mom’s final year was spent with us in our home. It was a wonderful year. When we had to be gone, she would say it was OK, she had Cody, the family dog, for company. When the great-grandchildren came to visit they would often be found in her room where she would be handing out her favorite candy, Hershey’s kisses. And in her final days, after she had suffered a stroke, I commented that the nurses were taking good care of her. In a barely audible voice she said, “I’ll have to pay them.” You see, she never wanted to owe anyone. It seems to me, however, that we are left owing her a lot. Thanks Mom, for a wonderful childhood.

Jan Warner
Copyright 1998, Morrison County Historical Society

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