Monday, November 26, 2007

A Smile for Miss Kay

It’s raining here again today….a steady drip, drip, drip for the second day in a row. I figure those raindrops are tears from heaven for my friend Miss Kay. She died this morning after an ugly struggle with cancer. I’m so very sorry she’s gone, but I’m glad her pain is over. She didn’t deserve the suffering she endured during the last few months. How do you say goodbye to such a fine lady? With some tears, sure, but mostly, I want to say goodbye with laughter. That’s because she brought so much light into my life. She always made me smile.

I met Miss Kay seventeen years ago. She and her husband owned a duplex that Hubby and I rented when we were starry eyed newlyweds. She was never really a landlord, always a friend. I liked her immediately. Her laugh was infectious, and she was plain spoken, but never with a sharp tongue. She was able to tell me how crappy my nails looked and how badly I needed a manicure without hurting my feelings. “They’re your jewels, honey, not tools”, she said. I rarely mailed our rent to her in the two years we lived there because a stop by her house was better. It always yielded some lively conversation. I was always amazed at her positive attitude, given the heartache she’d suffered over the years; a failed first marriage, the deaths of her parents and the birth of a severely retarded child that was eventually institutionalized. She rebounded with a second marriage to a wonderful man and the birth of three children. They built a good life together and had many good years. She busted through life’s ups and downs with a high spirit and a hearty laugh..or two..or three. For years she laughed at Hubby’s run-in with her mother’s remains. Actually, it was a prosthetic leg that went tumbling down into Hubby’s arms as he was digging through some shelves in a garage behind the duplex. He didn’t realize it was fake until he had screamed like a girl, tossed it on the floor and nearly wet his pants. It scared the bejesus out of him, and left us rolling on the floor. You didn’t mind that she laughed at you because she was always laughing at herself.

Even when we bought our own home (two blocks away) and moved out, we stayed in touch. Hubby became a caretaker of the duplex, mowing the yard and keeping an eye on the place for the last fifteen years in exchange for some storage space in that garage. Mostly though, he did it for Miss Kay and her husband. Miss Kay was always grateful for his help, and each year showered him with some kind of overly generous gift at Christmas. We ran into each other at the grocery store, Sam’s and other places around town, always spending a while in the middle of an aisle catching up on kids and work. Each time I saw her, she had a smile, even when the world wasn’t turning her way. Each…and…every…time.

We knew in recent weeks she was not in good shape but didn’t know until last Tuesday that she was near the end. The family didn’t know if she would make it through Thanksgiving. In typical fashion, she hung on and pushed through, probably for her family’s sake. That’s Miss Kay, generous to the end. She let go early this morning, and I hope she went peacefully. I’m sorry she’s gone, but I’m glad I knew her. She was a fine example of how to live life. I will shed a tear or two for Miss Kay over the next few days, but I know I will find many smiles among the memories. Thanks for the laughs Miss Kay, and say hello to Jesus for me, will you?


Jason said...

Peole like Miss Kay make life worth living, even when life gets really, really hard. And, yet another amazing person is lost to cancer, and we continue to spend billions on the space program. I just don't get it.

janjanmom said...

I applaud you for celebrating a life, not mourning a loss. It's only a loss for us. Heaven celebrates.

Pam's Place said...

That was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful person. Life is better because of people like Miss Kay.