Photo By: Courtesy of the Bogart FaMily
Beverly Bogart, center, enjoys a trip to Seattle with her family, from left, son-in-law Rick Hyde, daughters Joanne and Judy, and grandson Tristam.
No one would describe raising a family as a simple undertaking, and 80-year-old Lourdes Fong and 88-year-old Beverly Bogart know firsthand the trials and tribulations of motherhood.
Fong, a former Los Altos Hills resident, and Bogart live at Moldaw Residences, a senior living community on the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life in Palo Alto, a community that aims to celebrate the wisdom and experiences of mothers.
“We are fortunate to be surrounded by so many knowledgeable and inspirational mothers,” said Gerry Vadnais, executive director of Moldaw Residences. “They are willing to offer advice and share their experiences to help us all grow as parents and adult children.”
The Moldaw staff highlighted the rich histories and inspirational stories of Bogart and Fong, who collectively raised five children who are college graduates.
The power of education
Fong grew up in the Philippines and survived by hiding from the Japanese in the jungle during the occupation.
She spent four years raising her children alone while waiting for visas to join her husband, who had emigrated to the U.S. Years later, the family reunited and moved to the Bay Area. Fong attended college on the weekends and eventually became a teacher in Sunnyvale.
“I am proud that my children are all college graduates,” Fong said. “My father was such a strong, hardworking man who stressed the importance of getting a quality education.”
In the years after Fong’s father left China at age 13, his work ethic paid off. He became owner of multiple businesses in the Philippines, but he lost them all when the Japanese invaded the Southeast Asian nation in the early 1940s. The setback allowed her father to impart wise advice.
“He told me, ‘Everything you own can be taken away, but your education cannot. It’s in your head and will help you get a job wherever you find yourself,’” she said. “So as a mother, I stressed that importance to my children as well.”
Fong recalled some of the challenges she faced in raising her children. While her husband was trying to find work in the U.S. as a chemical engineer, she remained in the Philippines with their children until officials processed the paperwork for their visas, allowing them to establish permanent residency in the U.S. Being a single mother, in effect, posed its own challenges.
“Those were difficult years – having to live with my in-laws and raise my children without my husband there,” Fong said. “But it made me emotionally strong knowing that my husband loved us and cared for us. He worked very hard from far away until we could join him there in the United States, and he sent us letters and packages almost every day.”
Fong said it weighed heavily knowing that her children were separated from their father for such a long time at such a young age. She made sure to nurture familiarity by sending him pictures of the children often, as well as sharing his photos with them.
The family eventually moved together to California, where they led an active, busy life.
After her two older children graduated from Fremont High School in Sunnyvale and the youngest was in junior high, a number of teachers and principals approached Fong asking for help translating for the burgeoning number of Chinese students. After volunteering her services for several months as a translator, the principal at Fremont High encouraged Fong to teach there as well. She attended the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Extension program, enrolling in courses on weekends. She earned her credential as an English as a Second Language teacher.
Throughout her 30-year career at Fremont, she became “Mama” to many students. She is still remembered by and in contact with some of her former pupils, who praise the impact she made on their lives.
These days, Fong said she especially loves the close relationship she maintains with her youngest daughter, whom she describes as a “best friend” who texts, calls and Skypes daily.
“As a mother, looking back at my own children’s accomplishments, I feel very happy, because I feel that I’ve done a good job with them,” she said. “The rewarding part of being a mother is watching them grow and develop as individuals and witnessing the success they achieve.”
A sense of passion
Bogart, a former librarian at Stanford Law School, put her career on hold to raise children. She wanted to model the kind of family environment that she grew up in – one with values, love and enthusiasm. She passed down to her children her great sense of passion, encouraging them to join in activities outside of their jobs.
Bogart’s parents fled from Russia to Poland after the Russian Revolution, and landed in Buenos Aires in 1922, where she was later born. Eventually, her aunt, who worked in Los Angeles, helped the family relocate to California, but not before her father died at the young age of 39.
She witnessed her mother working hard in the U.S. to provide for her and her brother – without a husband and without English-language skills. Looking back now as a mother herself, Bogart said she realizes just how much her mother sacrificed for their family and has attempted to instill the same values in her two children.
“My mother never missed an event my brother or I had in school,” Bogart said. “That meant she would take off work to be there and support us, but would go without pay that day to do so and therefore often a meal. When I became a mother, I strived to follow that mindset and to stay heavily involved in my children’s lives.”
Bogart emphasized the importance of celebrating with your children and soaking in every memory. She stopped working outside the home when she had her two children until they were both old enough to attend school, because she wanted to devote her full time, attention and energy to them.
One of Bogart’s most important pieces of motherly advice is to maintain a nonjudgmental attitude toward your children.
“I’ve always believed in supporting your kids in whatever they want to do,” she said. “It is not about what you think they should do – it’s about supporting them in their own choices and letting them figure things out for themselves to make their own way.”
For more information on Moldaw Residences, call 433-3600 or visit moldaw.org.