Rhythm Of Life
At 69 years old with hair dyed purple, Kathe Craig is no stranger to a life of “chaotic,” as she puts it.
She currently owns 9 cats, takes tap dancing lessons on Tuesday evenings, works part-time at Penn State and takes care of her 94-year-old mother, Marge Hannan.
As Craig grew older, her relationship with her mother only saw improvements. After her father’s death, Craig became much closer with her mother and called every single day. Eventually, she convinced her mother — on Mother’s Day — to move to State College.
With her sister Eileen Melia, Craig visits her mother multiple times a week to clean her room, wash dirty dishes and bring lunch bags full of cookies and ice cream.
“It’s not always easy, as anyone who has an aging parent will tell you,” Craig said. “It’s just our turn. I don’t go out of a feeling of obligation — I want to.”
Growing up, Craig said she fought with her parents — as any teenagers do.
She recalled one time when she briefly ran away from home after her parents told her she could not see a boy she was dating at the time.
“I fought with my mother because we were different, and I fought with my father because we were the same,” Craig said.
As a young adult at the forefront of the ever-growing feminist movement, Craig said she existed in an entirely different world from her mother — who grew up in a world where she was told a woman should not work.
These differences convinced Craig her mother was the “antithesis” of the person she wanted to be. To Craig’s surprise, however, her mother was more similar than she imagined.
“She wasn’t ruled by my dad,” Craig said. “She was just quiet about her resistance.
Though Craig’s work schedule makes visiting her mother difficult at times, she always makes sure to visit on Fridays for afternoon lunch, and on Saturdays, with her sister Melia, to color, catch up or watch movies.
Admittedly, Craig said her life would be very different if her mother did not live in State College. With more free time, she could be able to do the things she wanted to do.
“But, in the end, it’s people who matter,” Craig said. “And, the people who are closest to us matter.”
Often, Craig reminds herself of how lucky she is.
Many former classmates she’s kept in touch with expressed how many no longer have their mothers.
“I have to keep reminding myself that I’m lucky that she’s still here, and I don’t wish that she would leave me,” Craig said. “But I do acknowledge that my life would be easier.”
Despite knowing this, Craig sees helping her mother as only the right thing to do.
“I love her to death,” Craig said.