On Monday, May 25th, I got a call that my mom was in critical condition. On the 26th she let go of this world while I was still on a plane over the ocean trying to get to her. Maybe she met me up there in those clouds. Maybe she’s having tea with me now.
“It is painful to describe the life of someone so dear following a formula or by listing dates. She did keep record of facts – knowing our favorite foods, birthdays and anniversaries by heart, but she most often measured and recounted her life through the telling of precious memories and moments shared. It is painful to describe her in the past tense; my love still goes on. I see her in myself. I see her in you.
If my mom were here, a stranger among us, she would have a hug for each of us. She would carry the burden of our individual sorrows as her own. She would remind us to laugh and to celebrate the love in our life. She would want us to celebrate her everlasting life with all of its dancing, singing, hearing and chocolate…
Kathy was born September 15, 1949 the youngest child of George Philip and Avie Viola Babcock in Binghamton, NY. She, her brother Philip and her sister Jean were raised in a home of strong family tradition and learned the value of hard work for its own sake. Mom fondly described home cooked meals, giggling with Jeanie until they feel asleep most nights, and having the most handsome, funny older brother of any girl she knew. Among her greatest joys were living close to her sister and the time and special events that she was able to share with her brother.
She married her first husband, Randy Ross Gulley of Fayetteville, TN, March 8, 1968. His family truly embraced her as own of their own. The couple had two daughters, neither of which were named Randy, though she always giggled about considering the idea. Donna Marie was born May 9, 1969. After living in several states, the couple eventually settled in Smyrna, Tennessee in 1978. Jennifer Lee was born March 11, 1980.
On May 12, 1984 Mom graduated Middle Tennessee State University as a Registered Nurse. Though she described nursing school among her greatest challenges, she did so with a sense of great accomplishment. She was a natural caregiver and threatened every Christmas to bring home any cute little old people who were left in the hospital – she loved every patient she ever had. She had a gift for diagnosis, innately sensing signs and symptoms dismissed by doctors and requested they consider additional tests. We may never know how many lives she saved, but we can be sure that she gave everything she had to those under her care.
On February 10, 1990, Mom married Pepper Griewahn of Britton, Michigan. His children, Martin Curtis and Julie Beth, joined our family. Our blended family truly became one. Our Christmas Eve celebrations with everyone including Aunt Jean, Bobby, his family, and all of Mom’s grandchildren were infamous. The tradition of sloppy joes and gifts like matching pjs were indicative of the unconventional traditions that wove our family into a beautiful tapestry. Throughout their marriage and during her recent illness, Pepper was unconditionally devoted to her, showing patience and love beyond understanding.
I hope that the world will see in me the things I love in her. You should have a little (or quite a lot of) extra butter on your bread today. Today, and every day after, her memory will be honored by our acts of giving and selfless efforts to share love with others.
I know it to be true that our greatest gift is as well our great burden. An endless capacity to love comes with an endless capacity for pain. In remembering her, it would be well and good to honor yourself. Remember to give yourself credit, be those things you love in others, and allow others the blessing of carrying your burdens, too. Have cake and ice cream on your birthday.” [Donna and Jen]
Drew and I are back in London attempting something next to normal. Thank you for everything.