January 8, 2009

Tribute Series: Granny Kloos

Anyone who met my Granny Kloos would describe her as "feisty". Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary defines feisty as "full of nervous energy: fidgety" or "being frisky and exuberant" or "having or showing a lively agressiveness: spunky".

All of these definitely fit Granny. She would be moving around constantly in her house, making sure everything was neat and clean. She would hang out the second story window cleaning the outside of the window. She was always quick to laugh and she let me give her the rasberries on her neck everytime I asked for "one last hug".

She would also let me know when she was displeased with me, like when I left the entire contents of Aunt Cynde's Barbie collection scattered all over the living room floor. She was always quick to share her opinion.

Once all of her kids had grown up, she went back to work at the American Nuclear Society until a few years after her husband died.

I also remember that she was a great servant. She would always be getting up at family gatherings to make sure everyone had what they desired. When Grandpa got sick, she nursed him until the end, getting occasional help from a hospice worker when he could no longer walk or take care of himself.

Thank you, Granny for teaching me to be "feisty".

1 comment:

Robert Kloos said...

A Grateful Son Remembers
The first recollection I have of my mother is sitting in her lap in the rocking chair that was in my parent’s bedroom when I was very young child. Whenever I couldn’t fall asleep or was upset about something, she would sit in that chair with me and rock me until I fell asleep. She had a special way of making me feel safe and loved. She was always doing whatever she could to make sure the needs of her family were being met. She did it all—cleaning, cooking, soothing hurt feelings and scraped knees, settling fights, helping with school projects, planning birthday parties, teaching good manners, working part-time, taking care of her husband—in short, making sure we had everything she was humanly capable of providing. She sacrificed so much for us. No fancy vacations or expensive restaurants for her, but we kids always had decent clothes to wear that were neat, clean and well pressed and she always had good home cooked meals on the table at dinner time (except for the calves liver with fried onions, Mom—Oh, and the peas, which I’ll elaborate on in just a minute). Most importantly, no matter how busy she was and despite the unknown concerns that surely burdened her, she always made us feel loved.
When I was a small boy, my father worked the night shift at International Harvester, so the rest of us were home together in the evenings with Mom. During the summer, she would often take us all out for evening walks. Sometimes we would walk all the way to Waiola Park where we would play on the swings or the teeter board. We would spin around on the merry-go-round until we became too dizzy to stand up. My favorite walks involved trips to “the Cardinal”, a 1950’s mom and pop version of today’s convenience stores. Usually, we’d go to buy milk or some other staple that we needed, but Mom always found a couple pennies or a nickel to give each of us to buy some candy or a popsicle. Money was always tight, but she somehow always managed to come up with a little extra for us to buy small things that mattered to us in a big way as we grew up. I never realized how rich we were.
Growing up, we couldn’t afford trips to Disneyland or expensive vacations at exclusive tropical resorts, but Mom always made our family car vacations special and memorable. Whether it was a weekend trip to the Wisconsin Dells, a memorable visit to Washington and New York, week-long fishing getaways to the wilds of Curtis, Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, or a two-week car trip out West to Yellowstone, she always had it all planned, organized and paid for with cash. These family vacations created some of my fondest childhood memories, although I’m sure Mom has memories of some she’d rather forget, mostly due to my love of climbing up (or down) things. For example, there was the time we stopped at a scenic overlook in the South Dakota Badlands en route to Yellowstone, and I jumped out of the car and immediately started climbing down a rock escarpment to get to the bottom of the canyon. She was so nervous she wouldn’t even get out of the car. Thanks for letting me climb, Mom.
Mom wasn’t a strict disciplinarian—that was more my father’s role—but she wasn’t afraid to lay down the law when necessary. When she did, her enforcement of the rules was usually tempered with just the right amount of a mother’s love, caring and compassion to make her point without doing any serious harm to our fragile little egos. Many’s the night I sat alone at the kitchen table long after my brother and sisters had been excused, refusing to eat my peas, which I had carefully separated from the carrots that had at one time accompanied them. I would try to negotiate—“Mommmm, how many more do I have to eat before I can go out and play?”—but Mom was patient and willing to play jail keeper for as long as it took for me to ingest the requisite number of those little green balls of mushy poison. I was easily the biggest trouble maker of all four of her kids, so I was frequently on the receiving end of her disciplinary actions. My penchant for misbehaving earned me the much deserved epithet “El Finko”, which she bestowed upon me at an early age and which stayed with me throughout my entire childhood. Thanks for keeping me in line, Mom. Without the boundaries you established and lessons you taught as I was growing up, there’s no telling what penal facility I’d currently be calling home; however, I still won’t eat peas.
We’re not as close as we once were. I grew up and moved away. I never call as often as I should, and we rarely see each other. But know that you are never far from my thoughts and you will always have a very special place in my heart. I owe all that I am to you, for without you, I would not exist. Thank-you so much for all that you have done for me and for all of us over the years. The lessons you taught, the love you gave and the sacrifices you made are not forgotten.
I love you and I always will.
—Robert Stephen