I Remember

Originally posted by Dave Thompson on IronMegan.com personal blog, April 12, 2012 (note: his sister, Katherine, died March 26, 2012)

Katherine.

I remember your smile, your laughter, your love of life.

You seemed so content and happy and enjoying the life that you had made, and focused on the future.

Your family is so beautiful. You were doing such a great job with your family and career and navigating your way through life as we all do. It isn’t always easy but we all were making it.

Just a few weeks prior you told me that summer was getting closer and that we needed to plan our Grand Marais, MN trip – and we did. And we were just starting to talk about your plans for a Disney trip with all of our families in the summer of 2014. I was so excited to have a week of hanging out up in Grand Marais – talking and taking it easy – getting away from the rest of the world for a bit – especially given how serious last year was at times with dad’s health.

I look at the photos of us as children and wonder what I should have done differently as a big brother to protect you and help you. I wish you would have shared more and given so many of us a chance to help you.

I will miss sharing my stories with you. I was always so happy to get your blog responses – I will miss that and swapping stories as we raised our children. I am so glad I started my blog when I did and that I do have so many comments from you. I was always so proud to get your “approval” of all the happenings in my life and that we shared an appreciation of “simple” values and memories from our childhood. Maybe I never said it enough, but I was so thankful for all that you did to help out mom and dad last year. Your trips up to help dad (and mom) were so important – that’s what families are all about and now I’m especially glad you got to spend that time with them. I’m glad I made a special trip to New Hampshire last year – the intent was to see dad but if his health hadn’t been an issue then I likely wouldn’t have seen you either. You tried to get to MN every few years – I always so looked forward to seeing you and just getting to hang out and catch up on things and show off our kids to each other. It was always so great to see how excited you were to get out here and see and hold and play with and have fun with my kids – I loved that about you.

I often thought about how you, Dan, and I would grow closer and find time for trips way down the road – just like what mom and dad have done with their siblings. But first we had to get through diapers, grade school, dating, college, and moving our kids back out of our house – and then this would happen. It was going to be the three of us laughing and crying and sharing as we got older and bonding over memories of our parents and our childhood and our family history.

You had some great friends from childhood – you stuck together and shared so much over the years. Your friend Trish summed up some things about you that I absolutely agree with, “You were capable, reliable, efficient, independent, creative, determined, devoted, loyal, honest, loving, and kind. Your smile and laugh will remain with me forever. I can’t remember a time when you didn’t see the humor in life. Your friendship was a gift to me and to all who were blessed to have you in their lives.” And Stacie added this one too, “I will always remember her one of a kind smile and laughter with an occasional snort mixed in for the really funny moments that life brought.” This was you – we all saw it and felt it.

I have fun, silly memories of you. I won’t forget them.

I loved that you said “wicked”, and “awesome”, and “wicked awesome”. I’m sure I told you that every other phone call.

I remember at our place when we were having corn for dinner and you started singing “shuck a corn, shuck a corn”, just like Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan. I’ve said that with a smile ever since. I still will.

I remember you bought me a rabbit wine opener. You were so excited to show me what it was and how it worked. You opened the box fast, we got a bottle of wine, and you immediately started cranking on the lever to push the corkscrew down into the cork of a bottle of red wine I chose. In your hurried excitement you didn’t notice that there was a rubber stopper on the end of the corkscrew – so as you cranked down on the lever the rabbit ended up pushing the cork into the bottle…which proceeded to shoot a high pressure stream of red wine straight up at my ceiling. Hee hee. We laughed and laughed at that one. It made me think of the time mom and her sisters decided to open a bag of potato chips by having one of them hold the top and bottom of the bag while the other one slammed it with both hands coming together in the middle of the bag…not sure what they thought would happen but I remember chips flying in every direction. I laughed that you got some of their common sense genes :)

I remember watching “The Dream Team” (1986, Michael Keaton) and how you laughed and laughed at a scene with them singing in the back of the bus. Your love of life and laughter were contagious. It was always a goal to say something funny enough to get to see that sparkle in your eyes and hear your genuine laughter.

I remember when you came out to Minnesota and we went to the Children’s museum. There were a bunch of hand puppets…and you found the momma and baby possum puppets. But you hadn’t quite realized that they were puppets…so you were doing some sort of odd birthing show that traumatized all the kids around us. The look on your face (followed by that crazy laughter) that resulted from me explaining to you that they were puppets and not reproductive props was priceless. I’m still not sure if we ever decided if they are possums or opossums.

I remember on another trip to Minnesota that you and Heather got fake nose piercings at the Mall of America and tried to scare Beth and me into thinking they were real. And that you got pulled over in Beth’s car and you both were in pajamas and you didn’t have your driver’s license with you. Hee hee.

And the memories of you buying Christopher a whoopee cushion for the rehearsal dinner at your wedding. You wanted it done your way…you made sure they each had gifts waiting for them ahead of that long night…you wanted them to have fun…and boy did he have a blast with that. We all did. You loved watching him go to practically everybody that night and making them act the part and feign surprise. That’s the magic you brought to a room – you trusted your instinct and it always worked out and made us enjoy life even more.

You were the best present buyer for me ever. You knew exactly what I liked – and you put thought into your gifts. I knew anything you bought me for clothing would be perfect for me – you just knew. I remember when I was a consultant working in Pittsburgh that you sent me a shirt for my birthday and that I was so excited to get it from you that I wore it the next day to work. I remember one of the ladies asking me if the wrinkly look was the new style on the east coast – it didn’t seem that bad to me but I never gave it a second thought not to wear it (guess I could have given some thought to ironing it though).

I wear your “Katherine’s Movement” t-shirts all the time (mostly to the fire station on calls). Every time I have worn those over the years I always thought about you – every single time. I tried to put one on again last week – I couldn’t quite do it yet – but I will again in time. I always found it odd that I didn’t get more comments from my fellow fire fighters when I was wearing a bright orange Crohn’s shirt (from a Crohn’s walk I did out here), or the Katherine’s Movement shirt with the guy & girl restroom-ish sign on back. But I wore those proudly and welcomed any questions/comments.

It was fun to get you a little mad. When you made up your mind, you stuck by it. I didn’t always understand why you got so attached to some things or how you made your decisions (and you probably thought the same about things that I have done) – but I admired your dedication & ready defense. Your cars are a great example of something you made up your decision on and defended to no end – which made it all the more fun to pick on :) Buying a house that was built two centuries ago (not something I would ever, ever, ever have the stomach for). Anything racial was another taboo topic that made it all the more fun for me to get you going on, and your choice of some of your old neighborhoods was another easy button to push. But you stuck by these things, and held to your values, and stood by your decisions, and everything always seemed to work out for you.

And I have some very random memories of you. That Alice in Wonderland Syndrome or bizarre case of some form of mononucleosis that you had. I was away from home at the time (college or working by then) but I remember mom and dad saying you were in some other world – for instance, sitting in the car sideways in a seat with your feet hanging out the door and telling them they could drive away. And that when you finally snapped out of it, it was something like 3:00 a.m. and you asked for eggs so they made you a big bowl of them. Not sure if any of that is true – but that’s what I remember :) And us dancing to a Monster Mash record (yes, record) on the hardwood floors in our NJ apartment. And you getting some sort of Indian name from one of our cousins (and hearing Erik’s self-proclaimed Indian name after that). And how Erik could make you laugh and laugh. And you loving River Phoenix as a kid. And sharing that back bedroom at Grandma and Grandpa T’s house and playing with the same toys there year after year (that week or two each summer seemed soooooo loooooong). And that you threw up in the same city in Indiana two or three years in a row less than an hour into our 16+ hour drive back home (mom said it was because you were so excited to see your friends – I could never figure out why they still gave you orange juice again before we got in the car that 2nd and 3rd year). Or that you went on some kind of crazy shopping spree with an old friend after their CDs and other things were stolen and you had the entire insurance check to spend.

And you had some obsessions. You were a jigsaw puzzle savant. A jigsaw puzzling fool. No puzzle was impossible with you around. I have to stare at the puzzle and the picture and the pieces…I don’t think you even liked to have the picture visible, and you could pretty much just walk past the scattered pieces on the table and almost instantly grab a piece and put it where it belonged in one try. And you loved books – not necessarily reading them, but possessing a hard-cover of your favorites sitting on a shelf seemed to make you happy. And you were a dancer – as a little girl and as you got older. I remember you laughing talking about getting to be in a recital while over 30. And the Nutcracker – don’t mess with the Nutcracker – that was your special ballet and time of the year. And it’s so easy to picture you sitting on the floor in flannel pajamas, with a jigsaw puzzle on the table, and kids crawling around. This was you – loving the simple things in life and loving your family.

I loved some of the silly things you and Erik did that brought out the fun in life. Things I probably never would have done, but that part of my envies. Owning chickens…having a boat and going lobster fishing…getting tattoos/piercings (I still stick with my story that I pierced one of your ears in our upstairs bathroom – wonder if anyone else knew about that??). Part of me wants some of these things and I loved hearing about your latest antics. I still laugh at the fact that you complained so much when I worked at the fish market (the smell when I got home, and you couldn’t stand to eat seafood – and I could bring it home every night to eat) – and then later in life you changed your mind/tastes and liked seafood – that was an ironic twist that made me laugh over the years.

I loved that you clung to an old-fashioned view of the world at times and aligned your values with that. You were the one to have Grandma and Grandpa T fill out memory books. You were the one who went to Indiana and sat for hours while Grandpa T went through all the slides from the trip to Alaska. You were the only one who got dubbed as anybody’s favorite cousin. Your pressure of hanging your memory box on your wall (albeit empty!) helped push me to get mine done. You had a professional photographer take so many pictures of your kids and family – she was such a good find on your part.

You never wanted a fancy life – but to be content with your family and friends. I always loved that about you. Family (and friends – new & old) is important and that’s how you lived your life. I always felt the love – through your visits, and cards, and responses on my blog post. You used to talk about wanting to be a mom when you grew up. And having kids. That’s what you wanted. That’s it. And you did it – and you were great at it. You were so caring and thoughtful and kind and giving. I’ll remember. And I’ll miss all these things about you.

2 thoughts on “I Remember

  1. Dad

    Katherine’s birthday is always a time of remembering and reflection. As difficult as it may be at times, I go back to this often. What a beautiful tribute to Katherine and all she meant to so many people. So many wonderful memories. Thank you so much for sharing yours. I will continue to go back to this as time goes on.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: The Lesson a Giant Pumpkin Can Teach Us About Depression | Dream Big – Make a Difference!

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