Dear Michael.

You won’t remember me, but I remember you.

I was there when you came into the world, I held your mother’s hand and it was a special time between us. We sort of knew you would be her last baby, and we wanted to cherish every second of your entrance into our lives.

You were such a big miracle for such a little boy.

I didn’t know it then but I would never have a good chance to get to know you.

You live far away now and I have not heard you talk, or sing, or laugh.  I have not watched you get on a tricycle, play on the beach, argue with your big sister, or discover new things.

How will your little voice sound when you say your first words, and what will those words be?

I had looked forward to sitting in a rocking chair and reading to you, making up funny parts,  taking you to feed the birds like I did with your sister, baking cookies with all your favorite things in them, burping the alphabet, blowing big gum bubbles, and playing building blocks, having the most fun when we knocked them all down and made lots of noise.

But I know you through pictures.

I know already that you are kind, funny, sensitive, interesting, and a ball of fire.

Who knows what the future holds for you?

Will you know me one day? Will you know your Aunty Emelia and Emma, and Uncle Ethan and Eysiah?

Will you take after my father,, will you have my sense of humor or your grandfather Jim’s love of history? What will you be like as you grow? What will you look like?  With what types of talents and abilities has God blessed you? What great things might you accomplish? Who will you marry? Will I be around to see you grow into adulthood and have a family of your own? I certainly pray that I do.

I will write to you from time to time, on this blog. I hope you will find it one day.

I want you to know that nobody is perfect, and people make mistakes, But forgiveness is one of the most important things you should have in your heart. And faith. And kindness. Treat others as you would want to be treated. And have fun whenever you can.

Hate is easy, love takes courage. It takes guts to be gentle and kind, especially for boys and men.

Please learn about the “God Stuff”, it really works, trust me.

Your mom made a wish  and you came true.

I am always holding your hand, even if I am not there.

And  please remember that no matter where you are in this big world and no matter what you are doing you can always count on me. I will endlessly love and support you.

Michael, my wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to your dreams stay big and your worries stay small  and I hope you know that the grandmother you may not remember and may not know,is a good person who loves you and if I cannot be there in your life i will love you for the rest of mine.

Until next time, be a fabulous person. Know you are loved.

Your far away grandmother – Sian Erith Thomson.

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A message for my granddaughter.

I remember the first time I saw you. You were delivered into the world with your eyes wide open and you took my breath away.

Oh how I had waited with your mum to meet you. We knew you would be YOU long before you were conceived. I think we knew you in Heaven before we came to Earth.  There has never been a baby born as wanted as you were.
 Your birthday will always be one of my favorite days, ever.
My soul grew as you entered the world, and I found myself believing in miracles. My baby had a baby, against all odds. You were meant to be here. Before you were here an hour, I knew I would do anything for you.
Don’ tell anybody because it might hurt their feelings, but you are my favorite.
I built you a home in my heart. You made me happy when skies were gray.

I loved being your YaYa.  I was so proud of you. I wanted to give you everything. I wanted you to know about your family. You grandmother, your great grandmother, and everyone you came from. The time we had was the happiest of my life.

I remember the last time I saw you. It was Hallowe’en, 2012. I didn’t know it would be the last time, and if I had, it would have taken  my breath away too.

I tried very hard to see you again.I love you sweet girl. Your little face breaks my heart. You are spectacular.

You will always be my Carys, my granddaughter and nobody can take that away. You are inside my heart and I am inside yours.  I’m really sad that I won’t be getting to spoil you, or go sneak chocolate, or take you on ice cream dates, and eat chocolate pie and pudding and gum.. Laughing all the time at what your mommy and daddy would say if they knew what we were doing. I will probably miss your school concerts and dance recitals, your first awards, your art work that won’t hang on my fridge, and I might not be there to answer questions you will have, that only your mom’s mum can answer.. But what’s meant to be will always find its way. That is where my hope and faith waits.
Carys, never forget how much I love you. I wish I could grab you from my dreams and hug you for real. Maybe some day we will get our chance.  I will always be with you, in the brightest days and the darkest nights, always and always. I wanted to know you for longer but it wasn’t to be.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t, at some point, think of you.
                                         I love you to the moon and back.
                                                   Please do not forget me.

Once there was a baby star. She lived up near the sun. And every night at bedtime that baby star wanted to have some fun. She would shine and shine, and fall and shoot and twinkle oh so bright. And she said: “Mommy I´ll run away if you make me say Good Night!”

And then her mommy kissed her sparkly nose and said: “No matter where you go, no matter where you are, no matter how big you grow, and even if you stray far, I’ll love you forever, ‘cause you’ll always be my baby star.”

Until next time, hold on to fabulous.
Sian Erith Thomson

Letting go.

My agonizing estrangement from my first born child.

So much has changed since you have been gone, and I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart.It just hurts more now to hang on than to let go.

So I am gently letting you go and in doing so, I have to communicate it for our closure.

The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.

I need to move forward now. I am ready to move forward. You are my first stop on that journey.

I remember the day I brought you home from the hospital. I was changing your diaper and putting you into your “take home from the hospital” outfit. I was so nervous. I was sweating. I said to you “ I really don’t know what I am doing but I will always try my best.”

And I did.

You were my first everything.

I adored you. Parenthood does not come with a manual, you do it the best you can, with no intent to screw it up. Good faith is what you call it.

There are still lessons to learn.

One of them I have learned recently is to let go of things that you have already let  go.

Our hearts are in two different places now.

I will always be your mum. I will always be YaYa and am so grateful that I got to experience being a grandparent. I loved it! I will carry that with me forever. Those were probably the happiest times of my life, so far.

But I know I have happy times waiting for me, they are there calling for me.

I love you, and I want you to be happy, I want you to have the life you deserve. And if that means … if that means I have to stand here and watch you walk away, then I’ll do it. I have done it. Because that is what you really need.

I didn’t know what I was doing when I became your mother but I always tried my best. Your happiness means everything to me. I will listen for your voice in the distance. I will look at the moon. I will keep you in my pocket. I will carry your smile with me everywhere.

But I have to let you go now. You were the star that fell from the sky and into my hands. It seeped through my veins and swam inside my blood and became every part of me. But then I had to put the star back in the sky. It is the most painful thing I have ever done or will ever have to do.

But I promised you I will try my best.

That is my best.

I know you are safe because your dad is there and I know he will always be there for you if you need help.

I know Carys and Michael are safe because they have you.

That is all I need to know.

Be happy.

I will see you, from time to time, under the pale moonlight.

My star.

Always love you

Mum

ps “She had hope in her heart but after a while, with each step forward, hope stepped back. And for the first time in months, the first time ever, she began to weep, and as she did she knew that with the retreat of hope her heart had finally caught up with her head. And as each tear spilled over she let them go, she was letting go.”

To mothers

“When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor’s gift.” 

-Maya Angelou
And this is why I post this narrative…it is my bread being cast upon the waters.

Estrangement between adult children and their mothers and/or fathers is known in 2013 as the silent epidemic. It is silent mainly because parents whose children have rejected them, who have taken grandchildren away from them, who have told them they never want to see or hear from them again, many times with no tangible or rational reasons given, feel such shame and grief that they don’t want to talk about it for fear people will think they must be horrible depraved parents. Well, that is not the case most of the time.  Statistics prove it.

My message to my fellow mothers?…..Be grateful for what is before us right now the present is the only guarantee we really have.

This year was my 28th Mother’s Day, and the 30th anniversary of my mother’s death. My 30th mother’s day without my mum.

I would give anything to have another day with my mum, even another hour. I miss her dreadfully, painfully, every day. She was my mentor, guide, advocate, safety net, and she said I was the light of her life. I never quite understood that until I became a mother. When a child has grown under your own heart, or when a child has captured your heart, there is not turning back. It is greater than any natural laws, it need not be acquired and it need not be deserved, it is there, unconditional unending, profound. It is full blooded, courageous, pure and poignant.

A mother is not be perfect, after all this is her first life too, but her love is perfect. It can be injured, it can be hurt, it can be tested, challenged, rejected, but it is undefeatable. . It can experience great joy, anxiety, terror and tragedy, it is immortal.

Even though my mum has been gone more than half my life now, I still feel her love every day, it has stayed with me, it is breathtaking, it is heart wrenching and it is beautiful.

As I grieve my mother’s absence and am so terribly sad that she never saw my children, never saw me as a mother, never saw her grandchildren, she never got to love them and they never got to love her, and as I yearn for that chance that will never come, that history could somehow be re written and she would be here, I feel like we are still in a dialogue even now. I know that a mother’s love for her child outlives her.

As perfect and undefeatable a mothers love is, there is nothing that can be done to save a relationship between a parent and a grown child. And sadly, little children lose too.

I have not seen my grandchildren in a long time. I only really got to know one of them, love one of them, cherish her, adore her, before I was dismissed from their lives. One minute I was there in the delivery room for my oldest two, I saw my daughter birth them, my heart was full, the moment the most precious of my entire life.

But I didn’t see it coming. Estrangement was unfathomable to me. I only know that it started with one of my children and then that child took another one along with them. Convinced them I was not worth knowing. I should not be a grandmother. I lost two children and three grandchildren.

Just. Like. That.

They won’t tell me what I did, they won’t let me communicate, defend myself or make amends, take responsibility, whatever is required to put our family back together. I cannot know what their perception is.  I cannot fix it. It appears they don’t want me to. It appears they are content in their loss of me. Maybe if they could get a glimpse of my best intentions, my conflict, my commitment, my humanity, they would come back to me.

I am in an abyss. I feel like I have been murdered but my heart still beats. How do you not be a grandparent anymore when you were one, ARE one, and you loved it and loved them and could hardly wait for the next day with them? How do you take that out of your soul once it has been there? You don’t. You can’t.

How do you reconcile that your children who you planned or maybe didn’t plan but loved the surprise, who you birthed, loved, nurtured, truly hate you with all their being- so much so they do not care about you, they do not think about you, they do not want you around them and their new families? You don’t. You can’t.

It is like being on death row for a crime you did not commit, but it is you who decides if you live or die. If you are freed or confined for the rest of your years.

I wish I could not love them anymore. I wish I could not think about them anymore. I wish I could write them off as users and losers and be glad I am rid of people who must have no sense of empathy, honor, loyalty, no sense of family.

While they deny me a part in their adult lives and in the lives of their babies, one of the things they cannot deny me, and the thing I hang onto the most in the darkest times, is that I am the one who gave them life. And in turn, part of me lives in their children. They are who they are in part because of me.  I nurtured them when they were helpless babies relying on me for love, warmth, nourishment, protection, it was me who watched over them and advocated for them, encouraged them, guided them, laughed with them, cried with them, forgave them and mothered them from the time I birthed them. I was the first face they ever saw. They have both slept under my heart.

It would be so much easier to just turn my back. But it’s that mother’s love thing again.

The truth is I worry about them all the time and can’t stop wondering what horrible thing I did to make my own children turn against me. How did the children who laughed, played, held my hand, cuddled, asked me for advice, showed love and compassion towards me, loyalty towards me, come to reject, shame and belittle me?

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.  (King Lear-Shakespeare)

This mother’s day was painful. It was filled with trepidation, what if’s and a slim and faint hope that the doorbell might go or the phone will ring and it will be one of them or both of them, telling me they are coming back to me. Even though I have children who love me and who I mean the world to, who remind me every day that there is a reason to be happy, to have fun, to count my blessings, to look forward to the future, to my future and to their future,  there will be moments in the day I will wonder if the other two have given any thought at all to their mother.

Sometimes the part of my heart that is broken, has pain so piercing and constant I can hardly breathe; it’s as if a cement block has been permanently placed on my chest. I don’t think it will ever go away. Grieving becomes a way of coping with the tremendous loss that now makes up my life. And even though the jagged edges of my own grief have begun to smooth out a bit, I also know that it will always be with me and forever define my family. It is not just me who has lost my children, but my children have lost their siblings, their nieces, their nephew. And my grandchildren have lost half their heritage.

And this mother’s day I’ve learned to embrace the paradox of unfathomable loss and profound gratitude for living.

But there’s no anticipating when grief will sneak up and wash over me like a rogue wave. It just happens. It can be a song, a special place, a little child playing with her grandmother at the park, walking past a toy section, or just a memory suddenly slides into my subconscious and all I can think about is the tremendous hole that now fills my life. I can be having coffee with a friend and laughing one minute, and find my eyes filling with tears the next. And that’s okay. In fact, it just brings my two missing children and my grandchildren closer to me for that moment.

The beauty of the human spirit is that we have a remarkable ability to continue on, even in the most adverse of conditions. But we will always mourn our children and our grandchildren in estrangement. Our memories of them are all we have.

A mother’s love is forever, but for those of us whose love has been rejected, our grief is always there too.

Until next time, In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer  (Albert Camus).

Sian Erith Thomson

I Believe in Yesterday

We’re all going to die.
 So what are you going to do with the final days of the life you have?
 Tomorrow comes quickly and so do your lifetime of tomorrows.
Why is it that the people who realize what is truly important in life are often the ones whose life has been cut short by terminal illness, who have had a near death experience, or who are witnessing a loved one pass on?
We make so many mistakes in our lives. When it comes to family, those seem to be the biggest ones, the ones we regret or the ones we hurry to remedy when the grim reaper comes calling.
The bitter truth is that as each day passes it is one step closer to no more hello’s, no more hugs, no more I love you’s, no more family dinners, no more playing, no more family arguments/ drama that we often, actually, get lessons from, no more memories.
My regret is not spending all the time I could with my parents when I was a teenager. At the time I didn’t think that those years would be my last decade with my mum and dad who passed within a year of each other when I was 23 years old. If I could just get some of those years back, or have been given hindsight, but that didn’t happen and I have to live having missed those opportunities to create more memories, to learn more from them, to show my appreciation for everything they had done for me. And, simply, more time to love each other.
I was an only child, and when my parents died I felt very alone. I did not have cousins or aunts and uncles or grandparents even, to provide me respite and comfort during my grief and panic and loneliness.
When I got married I made a conscious decision to have a large family. And that I did. I wanted to bring lives into the world who would have other people close to them, to support them, to rally for them, to love them.
The best laid plans……
My marriage ended, something I had not expected or anticipated as we loved each other tremendously. But we made mistakes and we grew apart, we got angry, we stopped communicating, the fairy tale ended. I was left, more or less, to raise my seven children, all under the age of 13. I did the best I could with the best of intentions. My children often reassured me that I was doing a good job. They often demonstrated their love for me. I thought we were o.k.
The best laid plans…..
It is one thing when you get divorced from your spouse.
It is quite another when your child divorces you.
In my case, two of my children left me.
This happened after they were married/living together and had children of their own, the lights of my life, my grandchildren. I miss them terribly. Piece by piece, I try to remember and absorb their essence deep into my soul where it cannot escape.
The reasons given were “It’s complicated” by one and just sudden, unprovoked silence by the other, and when I pushed repeatedly for an explanation, a brief note saying “our family was not his primary concern anymore and there would be no contact for the foreseeable future.”
What did I do wrong? I have no idea. Was I perfect? No. Did I harm my children? No. Was I a drug addict,  neglectful parent, cruel, unkind, abusive, mean, a criminal? No.
But apparently, assumptions are made, realities built, stories told and retold until they crystallize into strange structures resembling truths.
Estrangement is called a hidden epidemic, that between parent and adult child. The parent do not want to talk about it openly because they assume people will blame them for doing something terribly wrong to cause their child to cut them out of their life and the lives of their grandchildren.
Dr. Joshua Coleman, a psychologist who specializes in family estrangement and the author of When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along – has much to say on the matter. “Society has a prejudice towards forgiving and healing … therefore there is a huge amount of shame involved in estrangement,” he says.
So the fearful looks whenever I tell people is perhaps because I embody what all parents dread – that their own children might also give up on forgiving and healing and take the high road. Or maybe it’s suspicion. “People often assume that a person who is estranged is not telling the whole story, or the whole truth, or assume they are concealing something terrible,” says Coleman.
What I cannot understand is how two people who were always so close could so suddenly be so far apart in every way.
What a waste of everyone’s life.
There is always hope. That is one certainty I continue to live in. I am not perfect; there’s no such thing as a normal family.We do our best in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Like bereavement, it is, after all, a loss. And it’s a unique kind of loss: my son and daughter, granddaughters and grandson are breathing on the planet somewhere, I don’t even know where they are.
What has helped me the most through this is the support from other mothers who go through this and we all share the same feelings of sorrow, sadness, loss, of never being able to fix it or make it right, of often not knowing what we did that was so wrong we are not wanted in the lives of our children……it is about the only way I can get through this is knowing I am not alone in the deep abyss of maternal loss.
It’s been a gut-wrenching and heart-breaking walk, and the kind of gut-panic you feel when you lose sight of your child in a store or public setting for even a moment in time.  I feel like there is a large portion of my heart that has been taken abruptly. I worry for  their pain too. I know my children and I know they must have similar pain, even if it is too deep to feel right now.
I continually pray for God’s grace. And I pray that before we all come to the end of our lives, we are reunited, our family, so there are no regrets, so when our last tomorrow comes, we are not left wishing for yesterday.
Until next time…..cherish fabulous times together.
Sian Erith Thomson

Happy Birthday to My Mother.

 Everything was great until my mother turned 60.


 

We are a family known for great parties, and we had one planned for her 60th.

But around noon on her 60th birthday we decided to cancel the celebration. 
It would just seem in such bad taste to celebrate.
 Her birthday had become tainted.
 It was September 11, 2001.
 When I was supposed to be baking a rather lavish, creative and slightly 
complicated cake, I was sitting in front of the television watching CNN 
interview women who had been widows for a few hours, watching images 
so horrific that I couldn't quite comprehend them. The day those planes 
crashed and thousands of lives ended, life would be joined at the hip 
by this historic event.
 We had a small celebration a few days later. It made me sad that someone 
as loving and giving as my mother, a woman whose birth should be celebrated,
 especially by me, was now overshadowed by evil.
 My mother was 18 when she had me. In 1960 that was not something
 people could quite comprehend either, an unwed mother. So my grandparents
 sent her off to the United Kingdom to stay in a home until she had me, 
sparing her the shame and ridicule that would have occurred in her home town. 
Those were different times back then. You couldn't even say the word 
"pregnant" on television. T.V. couples had to be shown sleeping in separate beds. 
The idea of a music video involved Gene Kelly with tap shoes on singing in the rain.



 

 There had been some suggestions about abortion, and adoption.
At 18, and a "young" 18 from what I have been told,  she stood up for me 
and would not let anyone take me away, before birth or afterwards. 
As a result I was adopted by my grandparents, another courageous 
act by  my mother, done out of love and at the  sacrifice of her feelings. 
She did what was best for me, not for her. I had a great childhood, and 
although she went on to have three other children, as a mother myself 
I know it had to hurt her to see me interact with my mother, 
HER mother, call HER  mom, while I was told my "real" mother 
was my older sister. I don't care how old you are, or whether 
you have had other children who see you as their mother, that had to hurt.

 

 When my mum passed away, my mother stepped in and gave me the 
opportunity to still have a mum, so far I have had that blessing into my 
early 50's. She has been a grandmother to my children and to me she
 has been my best friend, someone I cannot imagine living without. 
She has been my shelter in what has seemed to be a never ending 
storm in the last 15 years of my life.  
I cannot imagine going a day without talking to her.
 She has not had an easy life. She has had more than her share 
of dark times, pain, heartache, and situations that most people 
would  find hopeless. She never gave up. She never lost her ability 
to laugh. She never lost her affinity for kindness and generosity.

 

 Today is her 72nd birthday.
 I was watching some of the anniversary coverage and speeches, remembrances, 
videos made of "where are they now", widows, children who were born after the 
event and never met their fathers, the dogs of 9/11, and stories that emerged 
from the ashes of the Pentagon, World Trade Centre and Flight 93 that 
literally dissolved into the ground in a field far away from its intended target. 
Because of heroes. 
Like my mother.
 And it was then that it occurred to me, that in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy we 
witnessed incredible amounts of hope, love, and courage.
 In almost every way this is a story of a miracle struggling to shine through 
the darkness. For many it was not a day that changed their life for the worse. 

Instead, things got better. The way people lived their lives, priorities changed, 
we appreciated each other more, people found love again, people forgave each 
other, estranged families were reunited, heroes were identified, and 
resilience seemed to be the theme that emerged from what was intended 
to break the spirit of innocent people.
 For too long, my mother's birthday has been overshadowed by the 
terrorist attack. It just seemed inappropriate to be festive while the
 rest of the free world observes a somber anniversary.
 But while we should not overlook what happened we need to remember 
that good was born on this day too.
 My mother is one of those good things.
 She also symbolizes through living her life, heroic choices, 
extraordinary courage, resilience hope, faith, and love.
 I think she was meant to be born on September 11th, albeit 60 years before 
this unspeakable act, because it is totally o.k to celebrate what emerged from 
that day.
 My mother is the personification of all that comes from hardship, sadness, 
pain, and darkness.

She is the light of my life. She is the reason I am here. She is the reason I want to keep being here. I wish I was as resilient as she has been in her life. I will never reach the gold standard she has set in her 72 years here, but I hope she has many more birthdays so I can keep on trying.


Happy Birthday to my mother.  

You are my 9/11/41 hero.

My Special Kids

My life these days centres completely around my special needs children, Ethan, Emma and Eysiah.

They came in the second ‘shift”, adopted when I already had four ages 5 and up. At the time I didn’t know what I was doing, I was an idiot probably, starting over just as I got my youngest in school, but it was divine intervention and I will tell you about that next time. For those who do not believe in fate, or in prayers being answered, well I just might change your mind.
So without these three, I would be suffering a terminal case of empty nest syndrome. Given that I was an only child and really enjoyed that, you would think I would relish my solo existence once the kids were gone and the husband too (to greener pastures with a girlfriend older and uglier than me…love how that worked out).
But once you get used to cooking for eight every night, or inventing a sock-bin because there are too many people, twice as many socks and no way of possibly sorting that out other than a grab basket that seldom produced a match but at least produced two socks to keep your feet from stinking up your shoes (not mine, but my sons for sure) it is just impossible to go back. I cannot think of anything worse than coming home to an empty house, cooking for one, never running out of toilet paper or milk or gas and not being able to blame anyone but me.

But I am blessed. Not only do I have three young people who adore me, who light up my life, who complete me more than anyone knows, but I have a daughter and two sons who the world considers “different”, “handicapped”, who some people in the world call nasty names and think they are worth less than “normal people.”

Some morons call them retarded.

What’s wrong with the word “retard”? As recently as the 1970s, the word was acceptable in medical fields, even the Arbutus School for Retarded Children existed in Campbell River and was the start of something great, the Association of Community Living and Our Place.

People with intellectual disabilities say that the “R-word” makes them feel left out, different, bad, stupid, and despised. Words hurt.John Franklin Stephens, a man from Virginia with Down Syndrome who serves as a “global messenger” for the Special Olympics has written op-ed articles giving lucid voice to thoughts you may never have heard before.
“The hardest thing about having an intellectual disability is the loneliness,” he once wrote in The Denver Post. “We are aware when all the rest of you stop and just look at us. We are aware when you look at us and just say, ‘uh huh,’ and then move on, talking to each other. You mean no harm, but you have no idea how alone we feel even when we are with you.”
“So, what’s wrong with ‘retard’?,” he asked. “I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the ‘in’ group. We are someone that is not your kind.”
Very bad words go beyond the boundaries of political correctness. There are words you cannot say ever. They are humanly incorrect. They are meant to harm. They break the heart and the spirit.
Language should be used to inspire, to welcome, to open doors for us, not to degrade, dehumanize, isolate and slam doors in our faces.      By changing one word you can change a life.

And as far as I am concerned these kids bring brilliance to the world. They are the role model for humanity. They are always happy, they are always giving, they don’t judge anybody, they are not capable of bullying or bigotry or hurting feelings. They love. I am their mother. How lucky am I?

Until next time….strive for fabulous.

Sian Erith Thomson