I have had in my family archives an old photo of my mother standing on the steps of an impressive building. The handwriting on the back, my father’s unmistakable script, stated that the date was March 17, 1944, and that this was St. Joe’s on the Lake. I only knew that this was my mother and that this was where my mother lived as a young girl.
My mother’s name was Betty Laughery. In my teens, I attended Notre Dame Academy in Chardon and we girls liked to go to St. Joe’s High School dances in the 1970s. One evening we decided to take a walk west of the high school down Lake Shore Blvd. Hedges lined the walk at that time. Peaking through the bushes I could see a building that looked oddly familiar though I was sure I had never seen it before. And then it struck me that THIS was where my mom had lived. It was the building in her photo.
My mother didn’t talk much about her early years — they would remain a mystery as she died at the age of 49 just when I was reaching an age and a maturity to want to ask those questions about her life. I remember her saying that walking through the building at night to turn off lights reminded her of Jane Eyre. She said she felt peaceful and safe at St. Joe’s and then at Angel Guardian Academy, located at what is also the Lourdes Shrine in Euclid.
Since my mother did not have many strong motherly figures in her life, I credit the nuns around her who taught her well. As a result of the love and kindness she received, she was a terrific mother — loving, nurturing and laughing.
I have often felt drawn to St. Joe’s on the Lake. In fact, it feels more than serendipitous that five years ago, I became a nurse at Hospice of the Western Reserve. It is gratifying to be able to see St. Joseph’s on the Lake being remembered here by the place I am employed doing work I love. It feels like I have come full circle.
— Keli Keye’s
Hospice House Nurse and Daughter