In 2006, Tarren Thomas suffered a stroke shortly after he was born. Life Flight transported him from Bend to Portland where he was placed in a medically induced coma to prevent brain damage.
After two days, the doctors declared that Thomas would live but would likely suffer from cerebral palsy.
Today Tarren is a happy and healthy five-year-old and his mother, Harmony, 38, has since had another healthy child, Cora, who is now two. The miraculous recovery, however, didn’t come without a price.
Harmony Thomas, the general manager at Silverado Jewelry Gallery in downtown Bend, and her husband Brian, who works part time as a home inspector but also stays home with the kids, were saddled with a $130,000 medical bill. While insurance covered most of that amount, the Bend couple was still left with a hefty $25,000 bill—a sum that would bankrupt most working-class families.
Not the Thomas clan.
Rather than take out a loan or file for bankruptcy, the Thomases made a plan to pay off the bill and just did so last week—nearly seven years later. To ease the financial burden Harmony made and sold her own handmade jewelry while Brian’s company, Inspections Unlimited, took on additional work.
“She could have claimed bankruptcy, but it’s not the noble thing to do,” said Heather Hanst, Silverado’s owner. “She’s one of the most gracious people you’ll ever meet.”
Hanst should know. Harmony, an attractive, but shy, petite blonde who often wears fashionable skirts with tall, black-leather boots, has worked for Hanst since she opened Silverado in Bend 10 years ago.
“Heather has been awesome and very flexible—it’s part of the benefit of working for a small business and not a big corporation,” Harmony said.
Harmony is the perfect example of what mothers do in order to make their family work, said those who know her. She’s strong, resilient and practical.
And in the world of downtown Bend retail, Harmony is something of an institution. Although she grew up in Sisters, Harmony has worked in Bend ever since she took a job at New York City Sub Shop in 1993 (back then it was next door to FootZone). In fact, Harmony is so knowledgeable about downtown and its happenings that Chuck Arnold, executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association, calls on her whenever he has a question, historical or otherwise.
“She’s one of my touchstones for downtown Bend information. She’s very observant,” said Arnold.
Despite all of her work and familial duties, Harmony remains remarkably upbeat.
“Being a mom is fun,” she said with a smile.
So what’s the secret? How does one overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, work full time and have a happy, healthy family?
“Watch your ego,” said Harmony. “You’re given things in life to grow.”
Tarren Thomas, her son, has certainly grown—not just in size but in ability. According to Harmony, he’s become quite an athlete. She attributes his sporting prowess to his early-life struggles and the constant challenges he’s met and overcome.
He just might get it from his parents. And we’re happy to give major props to Harmony for making it work.