As our loved ones age and require more care, one of the biggest challenges we face is preserving the character that lives within each of them. Painter, Lana Beck has found a way to capture my grandma's, and many other residents, character and life stories through art. Memory care residents at Kingsway Retirement Living each have a mural outside the door to their homes. Lana painstakingly includes things most important to them.
My grandma, Carole Fogarty, has been an incredible role model for me, and I hope someday I can be half of the person she is. The mural outside her door at Kingsway Retirement Living centers on the words "family," "faith" and "Fogarty" and nothing could describe my grandma more perfectly.
The word "family" is as big a part of her life as the sheer size of our family. Grandma Carole is a mother of eight (four boys and three girls) and a grandmother to 20, and an exceptionally good one. She spent countless hours in the gym watching our sporting events (praying we did not get injured), stocking her kitchen with cookies and our favorite drinks and making sure we knew she supported every single one of us.
"Faith" is a word Grandma lives by. Our family jokes Grandma Carole prays enough for our entire family, and then some. She not only spends a great deal of time in prayer with her favorite rosary or at Our Lady of the Prairie Church (both pictured in the mural), but also lives out her faith each day in her actions. Grandma taught me and many others in Sunday School classes, sang in the church choir, distributed communion at The Lutheran Home: Belle Plaine and at people's homes and volunteered serving school lunch. Before she started a family, Grandma was a nurse at New Prague Hospital. Not surprisingly, she chose this occupation to help and serve others. It was not until she met my grandpa, the outgoing and outspoken Irishman, that Grandma found a new way to share her faith.
The love she and Grandpa Pat shared was endlessly original. Grandma Carole's sister had set her up on a date with my grandpa when Grandma was 18. Upon entering the crowded bar, she saw a loud, "life of the party" gentleman attracting all the attention. She said to her sister, "Anyone but him ..." and the rest is history. My grandparents opened Pat's Place in Belle Plaine, Minn., in 1971, "the best burger place in town." The entire family of 10 kept Pat's Place going more than 15 years, and again, Grandma was giving and serving others. Grandma and Grandpa Pat shared their faith and love together until he passed in 2003.
The next word, "Fogarty," is one that I and many others are very proud of. Grandma Carole and Grandpa Pat are the roots of our big family; Grandma gave Grandpa the big family they had always hoped for. Each one of us in the Fogarty clan cares so deeply for her and strives to ensure her character and life story are not forgotten, as do many of you who have loved ones in a care facility.
Seeing the mural outside of Grandma Carole's door meant the world to my family. I'm so thankful to Kingsway and to Lana Beck for capturing her character and sharing her stories through these beautiful paintings.
About the Author
In addition to being a loving granddaughter, Haley Fogarty is the marketing intern at The Lutheran Home Association's National Ministry Offices and a senior at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She will graduate in May 2017 with a bachelor's degree in marketing and human resources management.