Tag Archives: Loss

Remembering Kathy

Here is Kathy in a reflective mood.

Today (December 1)  is Kathy’s birthday.  I often think of her and always on this day.

Long ago, Kathy died five months before her twenty-fifth birthday.  She is eternally young in my mind, but even if she were here today, she’d still be young at heart.  She was one of those perpetually upbeat people, a good soul, a happy person, a helpful person, a fun person.  She was one of my best friends, and the only friend who traveled through grade school, high school and college with me.  We were so different in many ways, but we had a bond that couldn’t be broken — even now.

She was my room mate on and off in our college town, often leaving town for new adventures before returning to go back to school.  She’d tried a lot of jobs, including cab driver and blackjack dealer in Las Vegas.  She’d wanted to be a doctor to help people.  We were in a chemistry class together, when she told me she’d realized that a scientific career wasn’t for her.  She found many other ways to help, such as driving Meals on Wheels to help people who couldn’t get out of their homes or prepare meals. She always helped anyone who asked.

She’d starting moving into my house to be my roommate again a few days before she was killed in a car wreck.  On a Saturday morning, I was getting ready to attend a wedding, ironing a dress on Kathy’s ironing board (which I don’t think she’d ever used!) when I heard the news on the radio.  It didn’t sink in at first, and then I sunk to the floor in shock.  I never made it to the wedding.  A photograph of  Kathy’s mangled truck was in the city newspaper that Monday morning.   A drunk driver had strayed across the center line and rammed head-on into Kathy’s truck.  She and her friend Susan were killed instantly. The drunk driver survived and was barely hurt.

Our hometown church was packed for the funeral.  It’s a cliché to say that those who have passed on before us were the glue that held the group together, but Kathy truly was the center.  Her place is a gaping hole at every reunion.

On our nonstop drive to Berkeley, California from eastern Kansas, we did make a few stops. Here Kathy and I put the camera on top of my car and set the timer. We're in the Great Salt Desert in Utah.

A week before she died, she’d asked me to take photographs of her softball team in action. She and I both loved photography.  She’d been my assistant photographer on the high school yearbook for two years. I later was glad I was able to give the photographs to her family.   She is buried in the same cemetery where my father is now buried, and after his funeral I visited her grave site.  Kathy’s parents had erected a headstone with their names on the stone carved either side of hers. It was heart-breaking to see.

Even now I miss her so much.  It may sound very selfish, but I feel truly robbed. I have lost family members and good friends since, and each new grief stabs me with the truth of how precious life is, how blessed we are to have family and friends, and that most things we think are important are truly trivial.  Still, I need to learn that lesson again and again, and Kathy continues to teach me. One lesson she always “taught” was to have fun!

One of the most fun things Kathy and I did was drive nonstop (except for pit stops) from the Kansas City area to Berkeley, California, to visit Jan.  Kathy was a tireless driver, although I took over occasionally.  That trip is still one of the highlights among many highlights in my life.  Kathy and I had a great time with Jan, and I am blessed that we are still close friends.  Her blog is Planetjan.

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Filed under Friendship, Life

Swept Away

Before the flood, beautiful plants, planted by one of the stylists at his own expense, always adorned the front of the salon during the warm months. Because of the flood damage, the Salon is now closed forever.

Periodically, floods sweep through Kansas City.  In early June, 2010, five feet of water surged into the hair salon where I’ve been going for more than fifteen years, destroying it.  It destroyed more than furniture and equipment. It wrecked a home.  The Salon, like a lot of similar salons, was a little community center.  

M., the owner and my stylist, had created a lovely ambiance with art on the wall, plenty to read, coffee and treats. From time to time, she would host craft sales and other events in the space.  People lingered at the Salon, chatted, got to know every one. The salon was the center of M.’s many fund-raising activities for a host of charities.  M. featured the work of many local artists and photographers.  

When this photograph was taken, water had already receded quite a bit from the strip mall where the Salon was located.

 M. was a stylist at the Salon for eighteen years, owning it for most of that.  She couldn’t get flood insurance, so everything that was damaged is a loss.  In the middle of the night, a wall of water broke through the windows, knocking everything around.  For hours, the cabinets and chairs and other furnishings steeped in the shoulder-high angry, filthy water.  Bottles of shampoo and conditioner swirled in the torrent, ending up in front of a restaurant at the end of the strip mall.  When the water finally receded, not much could be salvaged.  

The physical losses are painful, but what M. says she misses the most is the camaraderie of the other stylists and their clients.  She and four stylists have found a temporary home in another salon. It’s a lovely place, but the stations are all cubicles, so you don’t see much of the other stylists or patrons. The other half of the stylists from the Salon found spots in another salon far away. 

Flowers every day all year at the Salon!

“That salon was my life,” M. says.  She did have a premonition that it all might end, though.  A minor flood two years ago left her feeling anxious at every heavy rain, so in March she didn’t renew her long-term lease.  Instead, she renewed her lease on a  month to month basis, so she’s now not obligated for another three years.  That’s the main bright spot, if you can call it that.  For now, she’s just going to style hair and not worry about running a business.  She’ll re-group and then decide what to do. 

It’s tough being a small business owner. They keep the country going, taking on risk and are often under a lot of stress, not just for themselves but for the many others relying on them for their livelihood. 

M. will bounce back.  She’s one of the most positive people I know. She has a huge circle of devoted friends.  

More flowers outside the Salon.

  

     

 

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Filed under Business, Commerce, Friendship, Kansas City, Life