Upham's Corner Online

My Mother, They Call her Rose

Granddaughter Ruby and RoseHow They are Treated is Why They Return

How they are treated here is why they return here.

It's not a church, not a school and not a community center where caring might be expected but a setting of drudgery and chore where kindness and gentleness might seem out of place.

For over 30 years, my mother (now 87) has tended a laundromat, just steps from her home - Bakersfield Corner Laundromat.

“I love doing laundry,” she says with an enthusiasm that seems out of place. Lots of people don't like doing laundry but my mom is not one of them.

Opening, closing, washing, gathering the coins, helping the people who come to wash their clothes, chatting with them, chatting, chatting - the quiet hum of a gentle servant.

(Photo of granddaughter Ruby and Rose)

My Mother - They Call her Rose

My mother - they call her Rose - is the reason that people (multiple generations now) choose to come to our laundromat.  She is the person whose presence impacts them.  Her simplicity, her spirituality, her thoughtfulness, her selflessness, her angelic ways are authentic and unique. She has touched countless lives in countless ways.

Rose works there seven days a week and would have it no other way. After all, would you ignore your child on the 7th day so you can rest?

Taking care of the laundromat gives her a heartfelt purpose. She treats everyone at the laundromat, and in life, the same way.  It really doesn't matter to her who you are - old/young, thin/obese, poor/rich, green hair/purple hair, speaks English/doesn't speak English, or no teeth/beautiful teeth....on and on.  I know God is using her every day in the most amazing ways to make a difference in everything and everybody she touches.

  • If someone leaves behind an odd sock, she puts it away thinking that person might come back for it. They never do but … they might.
  • If someone has not come back to the laundromat at closing time, she will sit and wait just in case they need their clothes.
  • Even though the posted store hours say “We open at 7am each day”, on Saturdays and Sundays she opens at 6:10am because she knows there are a few people who like to come early, and she wouldn't want to disappoint them.
  • If anyone at the laundromat asks for her prayers, they can rest assured the prayers are on my mother's prayer list and will remain forever. No matter the problem gets resolved.

Halloween Day, 1953

My mother, Rose, moved into her home on Bakersfield Street on Halloween Day, 1953 and just as she is the back bone of the laundromat, she is the back bone of this beautiful Dorchester neighborhood that I, too, call home. When the "white flight" happened, she stayed because it never occurred to her to move.  She loves where she lives and always has.   When people stopped walking up to Uphams Corner because "it wasn't safe anymore", she kept going there and still does. Always trusting.  Always a kind word or a simple "hello dear" for everyone.  Whether she knows the person or not.

As I get older and wiser and clearly see what really matters in life, I am humbled by my mother's work ethic and the gift she brings to us all. When I walk into the laundromat, they ask me: "How's Rose?" These are her friends. They want to know how she is doing, and they truly care. I say to them: “She’s good!” and they tell me stories - how special she is and how kind she is.  Truly, I feel so honored to be her daughter.

Rudy (her full name is Gertrude Rose) has lived a long, long life, raising her seven children and taking care of the laundromat. I know she cares for all the people who come there as if they are her own, and she makes sure they have a quiet and safe place to do their laundry. She offers the vision of a way of life that is filled with peace. And in her simple ways, in her non-judgmental approaches to life, she brings me and everyone who comes to the laundromat hope, not through lectures, or sermons or words of counsel. About making choices, she has not much to say. About doing kindness, it comes automatically - without fanfare or glory, without ego, without expectation.

From Newfoundland to Boston to Stay

Born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada, she arrived in Boston in 1950 on a bus at Park Square. She fell in love with Boston immediately, stayed and has enriched the lives of more people than I will ever know.

My mom went to school in a little one room school house.  Although she has a grade school education, she is one of the most brilliant people I have ever known.  If Ivy league colleges gave out degrees in kindness, she would have received a Ph.D. for sure.

This story I tell you now for reason.

Soon Rose, my mother, the living angel of Bakersfield Corner Laundromat, whose invisible wings have carried her unfailingly in this world, will depart us.  She has been diagnosed with cancer. She has stopped tending the laundromat though she visits there, I am sure, in her dreams and in her daydreams.

A small, authentic and caring woman, she has implanted such warmth and love into the lives of so many people. Because of my mother, I have learned the value of kindness, and I can see clearly its profound effect on others. 

Mother, Rose, we will miss you so much. May your legacy of warmth, caring and kindness live on in others, generation upon generation.

Posted: November 6, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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