Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The end and the beginning

By: Joelle Charbonneau

As writers, we talk a lot about The End of a story and The Beginning of one. Yesterday, I was incredibly fortunate to celebrate a real life event that encompassed both. My mother’s retirement from United Airlines.

 Since United moved its headquarters, we all took the trip downtown to Willis Tower (formerly and yet still fondly known as the Sears Tower) to eat cake, tell stories and laugh with a room packed full of people who worked with my mom. For those of you keeping score, my mother’s world championship artistic roller skating career was the inspiration for the Rebecca Robbins mystery series. Obviously, she didn’t roller skate at United….or at least not much. She held three different jobs in her multiple decades at the company. The last was in corporate recognition where she worked with programs that applauded employees who went above and beyond in their jobs as well as worked to recognize the retirees as they stepped away from their careers. And not only did she formally congratulate people for their milestones and outstanding achievements, she found ways both large and small to make her fellow coworkers feel special and appreciated. Small notes…fun e-mails…Hershey’s Kisses on people’s desk.

Mom lives as she works – by recognizing others.
So—today, I dedicate this blog to my mom, Jaci Charbonneau. Mom, you are the most amazing lady I know. Thank you for the inspiration, your love and for showing me that the best rewards in life come from thinking of others first. The world is a much better place because of you.


  1. Joelle, your mom sounds like such a doll! How lucky you are to have her! And I'll bet she is so proud of you. If I'd seen just the photo in the cockpit without any article or caption, I'd have known it was your mom since you both look so much alike.

  2. Your words are beautiful, like your mother.

  3. I will forever be grateful to your mom for giving us such a gifted storyteller and genuinely kind daughter. I was lucky enough to meet her briefly, and her kindness and ability to spread joy was more than obvious.

  4. What a fun happening! Your mom's story makes me miss the days when a person would find a career path, get hired at a company, and spend decades there, at the same place but never to be confused with standing still! She must have really enjoyed that sort of "work-family". The office is a second home, the people are often like relatives, albeit distant ones, or neighbors, and you really see an arc of story and life and work. Wonderful. And, it sounds like they really enjoyed HER for those many years, too! Cheers on her retirement from an admirable life of work.

  5. Love those pics! What a fascinating time your Mom must have had with her skating career!

    Morgan Mandel