A monumental milestone in one’s life is losing your mother, and in my case it was my mom and role model, Fran Berens, who passed away on April 22nd, 2012.  Fran’s full time job was mom, but of course with 9 children there really was no other choice. 

I’ve never met anyone who loved a job more as demonstrated by her endless array of home-cooked meals, kind and thoughtful conversations with each of her children every day after school and highly creative Halloween costumes and parties. 

One Halloween she created a haunted house in our basement fashioning a spider web out of an old baseball net and making “eyeballs” out of olives and spaghetti into brains.

It was amazing and terrifying!

Each year our hometown of Shakopee held a kiddie-parade as part of Shak-O-Valley Days.  While the other kids in town decorated their bikes or rode in wagons, we had all-out floats designed and built by Mom.  My personal favorite was “The Big Rock Candy Mountain”, literally a mountain of paper Mache into which she cleverly stashed a cassette player blaring the popular tune. 

It is beyond me how she had the energy to do all of this above and beyond feeding us, doing our laundry and taking care of our impeccable house and yard.  Not to mention her care of others. 

One time we came across a poor child who was terribly under dressed for the weather.  She had my brother give up his long underwear and me my socks to help the boy. 

Another time she had us bring our clothing and toys to the Vietnamese family who had just moved to the U.S.  Her small and consistent acts of kindness to her family and community made her special, made her loved and make her missed.