Thursday, April 18, 2024

Thinking of Kathleen

Today was a relax and refresh day. I did go to town but only to go eat lunch with Jessie, and Mr. Moon ended up joining us. Then Jessie wanted to go to Goodwill to look for shorts for the boys. I looked around briefly and the best things I saw there were some beautiful Indian clothes of purples and pinks and oranges and greens with all sorts of sparkles and embroidery. I thought about how happy a wardrobe lady for a theater company would be to add those to her collection of costumes. I remember with such pleasure shopping Goodwill to find my own costumes for the plays I used to be in. I never felt as if I could truly get into my character until I found her clothes. And shoes. Oh my golly, I used to find shoes that I would never wear in real life if my life depended on it but how I loved wearing the highest of sexy high heels as another woman. It's a miracle I never tripped and fell onstage. I was in one production where I played four or five distinctly different roles and each one had a different costume. I was an old lady and had to wear a short curly-haired white wig and I was a silly hippie woman who wore a flowing dress and I was a lesbian dressed for business. I could never have managed it without my friend Kathleen who set me up a changing area right behind the stage and had each costume ready for me to put on as soon as I took off the one I was wearing. She'd make sure my hair was right for that particular character and she gave me the proper shoes and whatever props I needed. Listen to this- there was one scene where I was sitting at a table, eating, and for every performance, that woman made me fresh chicken salad because she knew how much I loved chicken salad. 
Every performance.
I begged her not to. I could make do with something else just fine. But that was Kathleen's way. That woman never stopped moving, never stopped making and baking and creating and planting and chicken-tending and doing beautiful things for other people. And she had a full time job. Her outlook on life was so damn positive that sometimes I could not handle it. Even when she was diagnosed with the cancer that eventually took her away from us, she took it in stride and made a sort of celebration of everything that she could from knitting hats for other cancer patients, to bringing champagne to her beloved doctor when he was moving to Atlanta to work there. If she ever cried, I don't remember. She did get a little grumpy sometimes. Chemo and knowing that you have a terminal illness will do that to you. 
Despite the fact that she, unlike me, was no martyr, she used the cancer card every chance she got, delighting in the way she got free Godiva chocolates at the mall or free make-up samples from Sephora. The way Kathleen handled cancer was a testament to an enlightened human spirit.

I know that some of you remember Kathleen and those days. I just checked and her blog, Sittin On A Porch, is still here.  Her husband never took it down and I am glad. It shows her grace, her joy, and her love for life, all in her own words, except for the last post which I wrote after she died. She had asked me to do that and I did. She did so much for me and I have told those stories over the years. I'll never forget how, when I was in the deepest part of my anxiety and depression and could hardly get out of bed, she would come over and sit on MY porch and tell me stories of her life, some of them so fantastical that I never knew whether to believe them or not but I would just listen, knowing that she did not really expect me to be part of any conversation because I truly was not able and just her company, her light, was enough to comfort me, to keep me from sliding completely into the darkness. 

How I wish I had recordings of some of Kathleen's stories. Or had had the foresight to write them down. She lived in Key West for a long time and oh my god- the stories she told about that life. Some of them crazy good, some of them unbelievably tragic. She was the mayor for awhile of a little island off the west coast of Florida, south of here, called Bokeelia. She drove through hurricanes, she met B.B. King, John Belushi, and Dan Akroyd. She survived a gunfight in a street that she inadvertently got in the way of. She was a trained clown. She...
She never said no to life. 

I've lost touch with her husband and I feel fine about that. He was sweet and I think he loved Kathleen but he had his problems. He'd spent time in Iraq and came home none the better for it. He was an odd match for Kathleen but he gifted her with one of the last things on her bucket list which was to ride across the country on the back of a motorcycle one more time. For that, I will always think of him with a sort of gratitude. 

I've done very little today but it feels okay, especially having written this sort of tribute to one of the most glorious people I've ever known. I must have needed to for some reason. How lucky I was to know her. How sweet it is to remember her. 

See you tomorrow. 

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Her life must have been as rich as the color of that rose.

  2. I had found your friends blog shortly after she had passed and read about her fight with cancer. I don't remember what lead me to hers but that is how I started reading your blog because of your posting on hers.

  3. I'm not positive but I believe that I found your blog by reading Kathleen's.
    She was something else. I would have loved to have known her personally.
    She was unique.
    I think about her often.
    You were fortunate to have 1st hand experience with her. I can only imagine. 😇

  4. People like Kathleen touch so many but seem unaware of how positively they affect people.
    A bit like you, dear Mary.

  5. Kathleen sounds like a gift. What sweet memories. I’ll have to start reading her old blog posts. Sending hugs to you.

  6. I've known a couple of Kathleens in my life and both were exactly as your Kathleen, full of life and always on the go.

  7. Thank you for sharing this tribute to Kathleen who clearly grabbed hold of life with relish. I am now going to go over to her old blog.

  8. What a beautiful tribute to Kathleen. Everyone should have a Kathleen in their lives - or failing that, try to be "just a little bit Kathleen" for someone else!

  9. I do remember her and her blog! What a lovely friend she was. And nice that people who didn't know of her before, can go read and learn a bit about this amazing woman.

  10. What a tribute. And as well as everything else, a trained clown!

  11. RIP Kathleen. Your tribute to Kathleen is lovely. What a superb woman. You shared strong friendship and will have loving memories of Kathleen forever.

  12. nothing to say that everyone else hasn't already said. we are lucky to have people like that in our life.

  13. I feel sad that I never knew her. You must feel glorious for having had!!

  14. I didn't know her, Mary. But I will read her posts and get acquainted.
    Thanks for sharing her.

  15. What a sweet remembrance, and thanks for the link to her blog. I'm envious of anyone who's had the opportunity to live in Key West! And I've even been to Bokeelia. I wonder if I was there when Kathleen was mayor?! Wouldn't that be weird?

    Anyway, she sounds like an amazing person with an amazing, colorful life.


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