Family is so important to what we do at Front Porch. Not only do we see ourselves (staff, residents, donors, volunteers … ) as a part of one large Front Porch family, but we also recognize our relationships with each other which takes us beyond the walls of our communities and offices and ties us to the much broader community. It is our honor as staff members to build relationships with those we serve and to foster the connections that bring the larger community into ours. We celebrate our connectedness, our community and our shared experiences.
We are here to meet the needs of many. At this time of year we pay tribute to our mothers and grandmothers. Who we are, and how we go about meeting needs, really is born out of our relationship with our family. So, with Mother’s Day around the corner, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide a little “snapshot” of my mother in the hopes that it would not only honor my mother but would serve as a way of tying my connection with her to a tribute to all the caregivers who work and serve at Front Porch. I realize nearly all who read this will have never met my mom, but I’d like to provide this snapshot of my mom as an example of my connection with her as I think we all carry with us a picture deep and profound that sums up the love we have for our moms. This one just happens to be mine.
My mother’s roots lie in the cold and rugged Great Plains of North Dakota; her parents having originally settled there from Bavaria and Poland at the turn of the 19th century. Her Catholic faith, along with a strong work ethic (both of which she still possesses in huge amounts), are absolutely vital to her life as it is to most born into the life of farming during the time of the Great Depression. She and my father moved to California in the early 1950s with the promise of an easier, warmer life. Warmer, definitely – easier, I don’t know about that given the amount of work it takes being a mom to the Kloses.
My mom is, more than anything else, a care giver like so many of the great people who work at Front Porch. Raising nine kids (my twin and I are the youngest), her hours were long. Her unofficial titles: RN (nine kids brings along a lot of illnesses, some of them pretty severe), educator, cook (she also cooked for the priests at our Church) and CEO of a bustling house. Her leadership principle = firmness. But there is no denying despite that firmness, there is underneath, a very compassionate ear (one that still listens to the troubles and worries of her children into their 40s and 50s).
Travel has never been a big part of her life. The extent of her travels (up until a few years ago) pretty much covered the states of North Dakota, Minnesota and California. Down deep in my mother, the one personality trait that seems to come forth from her (and make itself evident to all that know her) is this sense that she feels almost unworthy of great joys, of great journeys, of great sites. She’s almost embarrassed to be confronted with them.
With all that said (the background of who my mother is), I’d like to share with you the image of my mother that brings me the most happiness and that sums up for me, “my mom.”
A few years ago, my wife and I decided (along with some help from my brothers and sisters) that it was high time that my mother see a place or two before it becomes too difficult for her to travel. So, on a plane (with my dad, my wife and son) we put her and off we went to Kauai. While there, we toured beaches and trails, ate lots of fresh fish along with plenty of shaved ice, visited the Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Cliffs, spent time in sunny Poipu and watched the majestic sunset over Bali Hai. The entire time we visited the Island of Kauai my mother’s smile seemed almost immovable. It was more than apparent the joy and happiness that she was experiencing. It was not something that even she could contain.
But it was a trip to a small church (one very Hawaiian in its rural simplicity and beauty – if you’ve ever visited St. Raphael’s in Koloa Town, you’ll know what I’m talking about) that creates for me the image that I treasure the most. My wife and I had spoken to the priest at the church in Koloa before ever leaving California to let him know that we were celebrating my mother and father’s 56th wedding anniversary with a trip to Kauai and we simply wanted to find out the mass schedule beforehand as my mother had impressed upon me (quite adamantly, I might add) that she did not want to miss Sunday service while on the trip.
Little did I know that the priest would make mention of their 56 years of marriage at the end of his sermon, that he would call them up to the altar for a special blessing and that the entire congregation would give them a wonderful applause afterwards. The look on my mother’s face summed up everything about her. She was crying and had a smile on her face which (in typical fashion) she tried to cover up by placing her hands over her face as if to say, “This is too much for me, I don’t deserve this much happiness.”
Yes mom, you do.
— Rob Klose