Happy Birthday Mom and Dad

by karen Krolak
Mom and Dad in the Your Just Desserts Photobooth

My parents, Pat and Rita Krolak, were born two years and two days apart and would have celebrated their birthdays this weekend (June 1 and June 3). Since they passed away, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the people, places, and events that enriched their lives. I enjoy leaving little notes at restaurants they frequented thanking them for the many memories we shared while dining there or reaching out to artists who created things they treasured. This process has prompted me to realize how many small businesses, arts organizations, and nonprofits they supported.

Monkeyhouse is but one example of how they poured themselves into projects they loved. While you never saw them on stage, they tirelessly volunteered with administrative duties, hand wrote envelopes for hundreds of fundraising campaigns, sat on the Board of Directors, and cleaned up after performances. They brought friends to shows and introduced themselves to other audience members as ambassadors of the organization. One of the last things they did before they left town on that tragic car trip was to make a donation to Monkeyhouse for the Against the Odds festival. When I returned from the services in Chicago, I found yet another small check that they had sent in memory of my Grandmother before they died. And, although I have not had the heart to empty it yet, there is a Monkey Money can from Monkeyhouse's first fundraiser sitting in their kitchen filled with change.

It is easy to assume that they were devoted to Monkeyhouse and the greater dance community because of me but that would be incorrect. In fact, quite the opposite is true. During my interview with Byran Marquard for his magnificent tribute in the Boston Globe, I startled him by explaining that my father took my mother to her first live ballet concert. Although my Dad was a veritable pioneer of the information age, he was an avid arts patron before he ever met my mom. Back when he had a 23 inch waist and was so poor that he survived on a package of hot dogs a week, my father regularly attended Shakespeare in the Park and free performances by Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.

While my family has an appreciation for classical forms, they also sought out contemporary or folk artists too. They were Jay O'Callahan groupies, Julie Ince Thompson devotees, Flatt and Scruggs lovers, Dance Umbrella enthusiasts, Edward Gorey play aficionados, and longtime New Rep subscribers.

Since they are not here to receive presents anymore, I have been trying to give little gifts in their honor to keep their spirits active in the arts ecosystem but it would be almost impossible to fill the void they left. My dad, though, would argue that almost anything is possible. My mom's credo was "How hard can it be?"So it has occurred to me to ask everyone I know to embrace a Krolakian concept: what would happen if all of us did something to encourage an artist this week? Go attend a play by someone you have never heard of, write on your favorite potter's facebook page about how much you love her pieces, or stop to listen to a street musician. It does not have to cost anything...just give a little of your time, your curiosity, your attention. Enjoy the vibrancy and feel free to share any adventures that result.

Thanks Mom and Dad. I love you more than I could ever express and I am so thankful for your endless encouragement.

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