My wife Kathy was a very unusual person. She always tried to do the right thing for the right reason. No matter how much time it took, or how much it cost her emotionally, financially or physically, she did what she believed should be done. Most of us take the path of least resistance. We do what is easy or what is convenient or as little as we can get away with. Kathy never did that. Some things did not work out the way she planned, that is true, but she was always out there giving it her best shot. I may not have always agreed with her actions, but there was no question that when she believed something was right, she went out and did it.
There was no truer sign of Kathy's spirit than in the way Kathy treated her Aunt Margaret. Margaret was a difficult person to deal with at the best of times and, as she aged, she lost more and more of her personality. As Margaret became increasing vulnerable and frail, she needed more and more attention. Kathy took on this challenge, and treated Margaret as if she was her own beloved mother, Alice. No one could have tried harder, worked harder, or given more of their self than Kathy did. She did this because it was right. That was who she was. Kathy had to make many hard choices and many difficult decisions without any hope of gratitude or reward. She simply did her duty without ever realizing just how special that made her. I don't think she ever realized how rare she was. I cannot even begin to tell you just how much I admired Kathy. She was my hero.
Kathy and I had over 30 mostly wonderful years together. Since we both retired in the mid 90s, we have been full time companions and soul mates. We each had a role. She did all the work, and I took most of the credit. Luckily, we both had the same warped value system, valuing life over profit, nature over progress, and taking great joy in the small wild creatures in which the world abounds. If you knew Kathy at all, then you know how she loved her bunnies. Is there another woman who would tolerate a mouse in their home all winter, simply because to evict it before spring would cost its life? The odd thing about our marriage was that we both agreed that sparing the mouse was the right thing to do.
On three separate occasions Kathy's diligence and care saved my life.
Back in 1978 when we had only just met, I went into a thyroid storm, a condition which few survive. Kathy made unending runs to Friendlys for Fribbles and ATs for fish sandwiches, because the hospital nutritionalist did not understand how may calories you need when your metabolism is 3 times normal. Without Kathy, I would have died. And she got her reward when, as soon as I recovered, I tried to dump her. Luckily for me, she was not having anything of that.
Much later, when my diverticulitis became so chronic that I needed surgery, she spent endless hours on-line finding the very best surgeon that was in our plan and the facility with the lowest infection rate for the treatment. And then again, just two years later, when my gall bladder swelled to the size of a peach, Kathy got me to the hospital in time.
And it was not just me she helped. There are few that know Kathy whose life she did not touch in some special way. When Gary had open heart surgery, it was Kathy sitting in the waiting room with Johnny. When Alison could use a little... er... guidance, it was Kathy taking time from work to give her support. It did not matter if you were family, a friend or just an acquaintance, if she knew you needed her, she was there.
More than anything else though, Kathy was all about family; she truly understood the bond and the responsibilities that go with it. She loved her father, and often retold tales of her childhood and trips for ice cream. She adored her mother, and always tried to be there for her. She loved her brothers too, each and every one. She loved her nephews and niece. She tried to be the best daughter, the best sister, the best cousin, and the best aunt that she could be. She never forgot a birthday or an anniversary. She was never too busy for her family; you were always in her thoughts and in her heart.
The years that I spent with Kathy were special beyond all reason and, even if I did not always know it, I was truly blessed. She was a prize. She was a pearl of great worth. The world is a dimmer, darker, sadder place without her, and the place that she has gone has just gained a new sun.
Kathy, wherever you are, I love you and I miss you. I am truly lost without you. You always said that you were the best thing that ever happened to me. You were right.
8/24/2010 - 9:26 AM