–By Guest Blogger Cindy Haffner Howe, Washington State
When my son went to Washington State in 2002, I visited the Kappa house during Moms’ weekend. Hanging on the wall outside the chapter room was a beautiful blue quilt with a picture of the 1950 pledge class. I spotted my mom, JoAnne Carlson (Kruger), sitting in the middle of the picture. Mom, who left school before she initiated, was representing Kappa all these years without knowing it.
JoAnne was valedictorian of her high school and was given a scholarship to attend Washington State University as a pharmacy major. She pledged Gamma Eta Chapter in 1950, but back then members were not initiated until the spring.
My mom was ready to officially join Kappa until love intervened. Her boyfriend, my dad, asked her to marry him at Christmas and mom did not return for spring semester. After returning home to Spokane, Wash., and taking a job to pay for the wedding, they married in June 1951. Mom eventually went back to school to complete her education, graduating summa cum laude from Eastern Washington University.
Twenty-two years later, I also pledged Kappa at Washington State. Although Mom and I have always shared a love of irises and the color blue, I was heartbroken that I could not share Initiation with my mom.
In 2012, Fraternity Council unanimously voted to allow Mom to be initiated under special circumstances. I was thrilled at the thought of her dream finally being fulfilled and thrilled to pin a family member. After all, my two daughters pledged Delta Gamma and this was going to be my chance to pin a Kappa.
There are no words for the emotions I felt as I drove Mom down to Pullman, Wash. We shared stories of Kappa and the bonds of sisterhood. Mom never mentioned being too old or this seeming ridiculous. Kappa sisterhood was something missing in her life and now, at 81, she was finally going to wear the golden key. Kate, my best friend from high school and a Kappa at Beta Pi, Washington, joined us for this momentous occasion.
The active members were almost as excited as we were. They could not have been more welcoming or gracious. Mom, Kate and I were invited to stay in the guest room, where we ended up laughing, crying and sharing a cherished memory together. I was worried we were invading a special time for the collegians, but quickly learned we were showing them that Kappa extends far beyond college. This bond is something that grows more valuable with age. It is a connection that lasts a lifetime! Mom did not stop smiling all weekend.
The following weekend, Mom attended Founders Day with the Spokane Alumnae Association. She was reacquainted with her Kappa big sister, Katherine “Kashie” Watson Gregory, and other members of her 1950 pledge class. It was the perfect ending to an unforgettable experience. Sixty-three years may seem like a long wait to realize the dream of becoming a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, but my mom was never one to give up on her dreams. Thank you, Kappa, for granting this special request and reminding me that there are some things worth waiting for.