A tribute to my mom who shined the light on my path!

My mom, Rosemary, passed away on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 16 years to the date that my dad passed. She was ready and no better day than the anniversary of my dad's death. She had a long struggle and at age 90 her body said that it was time to go peacefully and that she did.

On that fateful morning as I drove to the nursing facility at the senior continuing health center in Farmington Hills, Michigan where she resided for the past few years, I remembered the person she was many years ago before her many health issues played a larger role in her daily living.

She had a couple of nicknames like Rosie and when she was much younger, her family called her Babe - she was the baby of her family. The "Rosie" came out when we would play a card game called Russian Bank. I was the last person on this earth who would play it with her because it is a mind-numbing kind of game and people would vacate the room in fear of her asking them to play. As a website with instructions on the game notes: "Russian Bank is a competitive patience game for two players. It is also sometimes known as Stop or Touch, because when a player makes an illegal move, or in some versions even touches a card that cannot legally be moved, the player's opponent can stop the play and take over."

The two key things about the game in the above description are: #1 - it is a "competitive patience game" (and that's quite an understatement) and #2 - when a player made an illegal move or, according to Rosie and Diana's "rules", missed a play, a drama would ensue that included screaming "BANK" and all play would cease for the moment. It was those moments when we would both just howl with laughter and accuse each other of cheating, moving cards around the table or other exaggerated allegations!

It was also more seriously a time when we would talk about everything. My mom was willing to listen to any and all opinions as she did have an open mind about many things. However, we did disagree on a variety of issues. I was a kid of the 1960's where the headlines of the era included the civil rights movement, the riots of 1967, and the women's movement not to mention the Vietnam War. In our family there were a variety of views of how things were to be. While my mom was a homemaker who had occasional part-time jobs, she understood my desire to be independent and to forge my own path in life.

I was the first in my family to complete college and then go on to earn a Master's Degree. When I went to college, options for girls and women were still fairly limited. Mom was not opposed to my journey even though a brief marriage brought me to Grand Rapids away from the Detroit area where I was raised. After I divorced I decided to stay because I had made so many good friends and a great career was unfolding here.

When I was hired to become the President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in 1987, neither she nor my dad were entirely sure what the Foundation was but were quite supportive as they learned more about the phenomenal work that it did and continues to do!

My mom listened with patience to my hopes and dreams, my vision on how to help vulnerable people and how to right the wrongs of the world. Thank you Rosie for being a beacon in my life -you will continue to be in my heart and in my soul.

P.S. - I hope that you aren't forcing dad to play Russian Bank! Give him a break!