It is said that the power to call up the past, to bring thought to your conscience of things that happened, is a way to commit to memory those moments shared and thereby never to lose. Well, I will never lose my sister of the heart, Kim Knowlton.
Kim was always ready for an adventure. She and I would talk for hours of the places we wanted to go and things to do. Earlier this summer we talked of going on another cruise, another long weekend this time to the Biltmore in NC, perhaps a trip to Scotland, though we also asked ourselves if our feet could take that and agreed we did not care we were going and the guys would appreciate the scotch tours, then maybe to Alaska she said or even back to the Bahamas were we met.
Ahh, where we met. It was October of 2003 and Ron and I decided for our 25th anniversary we would finally have a honeymoon. So we booked a 6 day cruise to the Bahamas. A first for us and we had no clue what this trip would bring us.
That first nights dinner, we arrived at the dining room and found we were at a table for 8. We were the 2nd couple to arrive and soon there were four couples. A couple, both in the Navy, finally together and after that night we never saw them again. Another couple a few years older than us and though they were friendly, they left early and the only other time we would see them was at the bars or casinos on board. Then suddenly it was just us and the couple across from us. A delightful southern redhead and her grinning husband. We started talking and we found out what others who have been around Kim for more than 5 minutes can tell you, she will find out everything there is to know about you in that time and find a connection with you.
We found ourselves in a fast friendship on that cruise. Ron and Kim would talk of music and Ken and I of history. We found out we shared so many things in common and we talked about our kids, ours grown and Alex a teen, our grand-kids (3 at that time) and she could not wait to meet them, and so many other things. She loved Williamsburg and I would became her “Williamsburg Friend“. We made plans to meet up on the third day as we already had plans for the next day, and we stayed pretty much together the rest of the trip. We just clicked, the four of us exploring the islands and getting to know each other.
I will never, ever, forget the hunt for Mt. Dew! I never knew someone so hooked on that drink and the ends of the earth Ken would go to, to find her a 6-pack.
When the cruise ended, we made plans to keep in touch and talked of getting together in the Beach for dinner. She called first.
From then on it was long weekends at the beach, touring historical sites, going on another cruise (during a hurricane!), spending weeks at the Outer Banks together, dinners, etc. Sometimes we found that Kim & Ken provided comic relief with their bantering and fussing over each other. The love and passion they shared was always present. They often brought us out of our comfort zone.
Who knew that when we decided to take a 7 day cruise it would include time out running hurricane Wilma? Did that bother us….heck NO! While the guys went to visit a Mayan ruin, Kim and I found ourselves on a bus for a 40 min ride to an all-inclusive resort where for $25 we swam, ate and drank away our worries of the storm following us. Could those drinks have anything to do with her stomach issues the next day, or was it the rocking/rolling of the ship. Who knows, but we had a grand time, only about 15 people in this large resort.
And then there were our trips to places like Mount Vernon, Monticello or here to Tryons Palace in New Bern, NC, a place she had never been and her introduction to Carolina pulled pork bbq.
Our first couples trip to the beach. We rented a house, not knowing that they were beginning to install the pylons for a new pier that week and we had the drone of the kathump, kathump, all day long with the pillars being driven in. Did not stop us from having a blast! Also another storm for our adventure as “Danny” came in the day we left.
Our trip to take a tour at the Copper Fox Distillery involved a stop in Fredericksburg for lunch, a trip up to Middletown, Va where we stayed at a bed & breakfast (not such a good experience) visited a car show where Kim and I enjoyed teasing the guys about there dressing alike, and then down I-81 to the Copper Fox and some great antique stores and little art studios, then over to I-64 with stops in Lexington and then to Charlottesville to visit this time Pres. James Monroe’s home .
We so enjoyed our trips together. There was always something to find and learn. We had not had that before. We have had “couple friends” before but not like this. We did not need the day-to-day connection, ours was different with a lot of living in short bursts.
God placed Kim & Ken into our lives at the right time. I met Kim a little over a year after I lost my mother. My mother was a lot like Kim. Though my mother was a “northerner” having grown up in IL, she held many southern qualities of having never met a stranger, would adopt you into her family, make you feel welcome, wanted and loved very quickly. Mom was an excellent cook and showed you her love in the many different deserts she made every holiday or preparing your favorite birthday dinner. She was quick to size you up and find a connection. Nothing was more important than family, friends, and football.
Sadly, my Mom also had diabetes and died from complications of that damned disease. She was diagnosed when I was 20 and for 22 years I watched the disease take her health away and I was 42 when she died, still too young to lose her and her death devastated me.
My heart was open to receiving a friend that October. One that I could trust, come to love and feel a connection with in unspoken ways. We did not grow up together, share life through our children, church or work. We did not live in the same neighborhood, area or even zip code. We were not a military family nor did we hale from Georgia. But we connected. We did not talk daily or even weekly. But when we were together, we used every minute.
Whether it was her trying to convince me of the Zombie attacks I needed to prepare for or that I needed to watch a show called True Blood (I still will not watch), getting me hooked on a certain brand of cosmetics, the need to have “this top looks really good on you” though we were supposed to be shopping for her, or the merits of southern cooking versus well any other. We spoke of our family histories and the stories we heard about our heritage. She really wanted to know more about her Cherokee background and we spoke of going to Cherokee, NC and seeing what records we could find.
We liked to talk about history, religion and politics, things that usually do not go well together. As she would say, I a “Papist” Catholic liberal Republican, she a Methodist conservative Republican found so much in common and never a disagreement.
There were the work trips that she would come with me as “your helper” she would say. Ken owed me big time, for the first time I took her she learned what wholesale and retail prices were all about! She brought home several finds including a rather large decorative wooden house, carrying it on a plane! Then I started to rent a large SUV and we would drive up to the show and come back filled with treasures for work and she would always find some treasure for herself. She was such a fan and supportive of Colonial Williamsburg and loved to talk about it to anyone at these shows. I am not sure if I became so popular for who I was or for her talking about me, CWF and making friends along the way…..
We loved those trips. Even with us swapping times using canes & boots, she would come with me a couple of times a year to share the experience. Kim was able to meet so many artist that I work with and they came to know her and care for her as well. So many prayed for her while she was in the hospital and asked about her if she missed a trip with me because of her health. I said she never met a stranger….
A trip this January to PA proved scary for me with a worsening health crisis that caused the need for her to drive us home. I had rented a large Yukon and it was filled with products and to add insult, it was snowing. Though she was nervous she never let me know that until we were home safely.
On our last trip together was just a few weeks before her death and we spoke about her fears. I had never heard her speak that way before. She did not want to….die. She spoke of her concerns about starting dialysis, what that would mean for her future. I told her I did not want to lose her. We shared a few tears together. Kim said that she was afraid for Ken, how he would talk of his fear that she would die and she did not want that for him. She spoke of her determination to do what the doctors said, this time.
It was an odd trip for us, though there was still a lot of laughter and fun discussions, it was also full of a lot of serious chatter and thoughts on marriage, children, health, the future. I am so very glad that we had each other to talk to about our deepest fears and hopes, our desires and needs. We spoke of our loves, our misses in life and so many other private things. I am glad we were there for each other.
Kim was looking forward to their new non-Navy life, and how she was glad they would not have to move. She spoke so proudly of her daughter Alex and how well she was doing now, so happy that Alex was in a good place in her life, with a purpose and drive for her future. That she had a good man with her and they seemed happy together. But she also said she would never hold a grandchild. Kim said she felt different.
That trip seemed to take a lot out of her, she even took a long nap in the hotel, totally not like her. After the show we swam in the pool like usual, she talking of her aquatics class and teaching me her moves, my sharing my foot exercises, then we ate out and shopped (her favorite thing, my least) and it was back to our normal. She worried me, but she said she was fine and we talked of other worldly things. We then spoke of our next trip and we both looked forward to it as I would be going to Atlanta this time and she would take me on a tour of her hometown. I said I could take extra time off and we would have such fun. How wrong we both were.
Kim was exuberant, fun filled, spicy, loving, supportive, free with her advise and thoughts on any subject matter, loyal, stubborn, at times reckless in the face of health obstacles and fearless of most. Kim could almost convince the Devil to apologize to God and ask for forgiveness, she was that special force in nature. I am sure she is in Heaven and may even be in Guardian Angle training as we speak. For I know of only a few who I would want to look out for me, my mother, my Great Aunt Ellen and paternal grandparents who never met me but I imagine are watching over me, and now Kim.
My friend Kim, your life was cut too short and too many will miss you and some will grieve for a long time. Our memories, our recalling the better times will help us. Ken and Alex will always be in our prayers, and as I promised you, I will always be here if they need anything.
We only ask, I only ask, that you watch over those you loved. Whisper in our ears when we need that southern kick in the pants and hug our hearts when we need that too.
Though we now go in different directions, I will always Love ya.