My brother (left) and I joined my mom at her most recent
School Board Election Night celebration. My mom has
earned people's trust because she listens and is clear about
what she thinks. There's no mystery about where she stands.
On this Thanksgiving weekend, I would like to share a tribute to the most compelling person I know. My mom influences me to follow my passion and serve others.
When it came to raising us, my mom was poised to try just about anything. In elementary school, there was a phase when she dressed us for school the night before so getting out of the house in the morning would be less stressful. As a parent, she operated like a mad scientist. At one point she gave up trying to keep me and my brother from fighting and set up a ring in our living room and refereed until we tired. I remember being bent over the arm of a chair squirming for air in my brother’s headlock while he argued with my mom about the rules.
My mom’s entire parenting experience was a case study in resourcefulness.
The grandkids are building their own collection of
KK stories that add to the lore.
Growing up under my mom’s watch meant that we spent time with people from different walks of life. Whether it was having dinner with the elderly parents of her out-of-town friend or going to a Michael Jackson concert with her black friends from Grand Rapids, I grew up noticing there wasn’t anything that made my mom uncomfortable. And the best part of all - we tagged along on a lot of her adventures.
My mom and her trademark sun-
glasses. My mom has always had a
flair for style. Uniquely KK.
When I was a boy about Kavaun’s age my mom would shoot hoops with us and play H-O-R-S-E. She never hesitated to grab her ball glove and call balls and strikes. It’s just what she did, and most of the time it was her idea. My mom was the perfect match for two boys with a lot of energy.
My most colorful memories growing up with KK involved sports. I have shared the golf course with my mom and on occasion, I winced as she would exchange golf tips with my brother. I remember snickering at her frustration when she would play tennis with Ryan and I would marvel at how the pins would jump when she punished them with her bowling ball.
Bowling alleys. Softball and baseball fields. Golf courses. Gyms. For most of the 80’s that’s where you could find our family when we weren’t at my grandparents. Listening to my mom and grandpa carry on passionately is something I miss from my childhood. For me, it reinforced that having some fire is a good thing.
Given my mom's fierce sense of advocacy, my most valuable lessons about civic engagement were learned watching her when I was a teenager. Intensity, determination and an unwillingness to back down - that's my mom.
We all have stories about my mom that make us
laugh, and most of them reference either her re-
sourceful nature or her intensity. Here, I brought
my mom to tears by reminding her about one of
her creative parenting methods.
This photo of my grandparents was taken ten
years before I was born. My grandparents taught
us about the value of giving back to others and
serving your community. I am mindful that their
lessons can reach my children by the example we set.
In 1992 when my mom was elected to the school
board for the first time, Bill Clinton and George
HW Bush were campaigning for president.
My introduction to politics came at an
On this Thanksgiving weekend, I proudly acknowledge that my mom taught me why it is critical to care and how to use my talents to help others. She showed me very early in life that my voice matters and fighting to be heard is worthy of praise, not condemnation.
Bigger than the struggles and more meaningful than any single mission, my mom has shown me that taking risks and challenging the status quo requires humility, grit and the commitment to stay true to yourself.