Bound by Love: Alumnus Publishes Children’s Book in Mother’s Memory

Andrew Kranichfeld ’07 overcame a brain tumor and resulting blindness through his creative pursuits.

The bond between a mother and child is everlasting, bringing strength and hope when all seems lost.

Just ask Andrew Kranichfeld ’07, who lost his sight to a brain tumor just after his mother, Karen, surrendered her life to leukemia in 2010. He found courage, guidance — and the inspiration for a children’s book — in her memory.

In life, Karen served as an activities therapist at The Osborn retirement community. When she wasn’t working, she volunteered at shelters and organized food drives at churches near her home in Rye, N.Y.

“She was the best mom ever,” Kranichfeld says. “She was caring, giving — a wonderful person.” Her happy demeanor and “glass is half full” outlook were never far from Kranichfeld’s thoughts — especially as he has had to relearn the most basic tasks: getting dressed; using the restroom; making meals.

Creative Spark Illuminates Path Forward

Losing sight would be devastating to anyone, but it was particularly discouraging to Kranichfeld who specialized in broadcasting and communication at Manhattan College, earning a Bachelor of Arts.

“Going blind is a huge challenge,” he says. “But advances in technology have made it possible for me to email and even text message.

He uses iPhone applications to identify and distinguish objects, such as the color of a shirt, the type of cereal inside a box or paper money denominations.

No longer able to edit film, Kranichfeld found other ways to express his creativity. Using voice software, he began writing. Words of tribute began pouring out.

Kranichfeld found other ways to express his creativity. Using voice software, he began writing. Words of tribute began pouring out.

 “It was the little things like bringing a basket of vegetables to a neighbor, rescuing wounded or lost animals, or sitting down to a cup of tea with a friend that made her happiest,” he says of his mother. Although she had many passions, he decided to focus on her love of gardening, which resulted in a children’s book, Karen’s Garden. It features illustrations by his close friend Andres A. Pratts.

The book introduces kids — specifically ages 3-8 — about the good that comes from growing your own vegetables. But it also carries another message to audiences of all ages: you can achieve your goals no matter what.

A Spirit of Discovery

Currently Kranichfeld is learning the play the piano, a beloved hobby of his mother’s. Regretful of refusing lessons from her in his youth, Kranichfeld feels he is reconnecting with her through songs by her favorite musical groups and performers, such as The Beatles and Cat Stevens.

Kranichfeld is also on the move. The former ice hockey player has plans to organize a youth ice hockey tournament benefiting cancer research. Kranichfeld himself recently made it back on the ice, and he is taking up new activities such as snowboarding and tandem biking in Central Park.

Though he had no prior experience with children’s writing, Kranichfeld drew upon his core courses in communication and journalism to write for young audiences. He says his mother’s childlike appreciation for the simple joys in life naturally translated to the children’s books’ spirit of discovery.

“I was always a decent writer, but I guess I never really spent time doing it creatively — I just started writing,” he says. The book is being released in Spanish, as well as Braille, complete with embossed illustrations.

Karen’s Garden also has proved to be a great foray into the community. Kranichfeld regularly appears at events and book readings at local bookstores and elementary schools, spreading knowledge, faith and hundreds of toothy grins in his mother’s memory.

For more information or to purchase Karen’s Garden, visit: http://sites.google.com/site/karensgardenbook/.