Last year, I decided that at the end of the awards season (The Golden Globes, The Oscars, The Grammy’s, etc.), I am going to give out a single award here at Irishman For Hire called the Blarney Stone Award. The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone atop the Blarney Castle in Ireland and it is widely believed that anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone (different link) will be endowed with the “gift of gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery).”
The criteria for the Blarney Stone award is simple, “Thank those who have had an impact on my life before it’s too late to express the gratitude that I have for them.” I cannot guarantee that the recipient will become eloquent or a great speaker but the fact of the matter is that it was the eloquence of their actions that has spoken volumes to me in my life. We always intend to tell those important people in our lives what they have meant to us but more often than not, we never get the chance to say to our friends and family members what we truly feel in our hearts until it is too late.
This year I am breaking my own rule and I am presenting this award posthumously to my mother-in-law Kathy. The reason I am breaking my own rule in this rare instance is that I had the opportunity to say what was important to her before she passed. We had a long goodbye and I am thankful to God that we did because I was able to thank her for the impact that she had on my life, Stephanie’s life and the lives of my children. My goal today is to honor her memory, her legacy and the love that my mother-in-law had for life.
I would like to start by thanking everyone who has shared their stories and memories of Kathy over the past eight months. It has meant a lot to our whole family to know how truly loved she was by everyone who knew her. We all have our own memories of Kathy; some happy, some sad but every one of those memories has the infectious ability to warm our hearts and lift our spirits. Kathy was one of those people that left an indelible mark on our lives whether you knew her for five minutes, five months or fifty years. She was blessed with a special gift of making people feel extraordinary in her presence and we all are blessed for having known her.
If I had to find just one word to sum up Kathy’s impact on this world and on all of our lives, it would be the word “Love.” It would be unfair of me to only use one word to share with you about Kathy’s life because she was always so full of life, so full of tenacity, she would always find a way to persevere but as I struggle to find the litany of words to truly honor Kathy, my heart and soul ultimately come back to one word; Love.
She loved her children; her own, her godchildren and those she worked with in her professional career.
She loved the families she would meet and forge relationships with every day of her life; both personally and professionally.
She loved her wonderful neighbors who so graciously watched out for her like a favorite sister and treated her with great kindness, dignity and respect.
She loved her friends who came to know her as the one person they could always count on every day of their lives. Kathy was always ready to lend a helping hand, brew a pot of coffee and talk through the latest calamity that inevitably found all of us and most importantly, she was always there with a hug, a smile, or a tender and uplifting word that would make the most broken heart whole again.
She loved animals; the normal ones but most likely, she would adopt the ones that we all came to think of as a little strange. Whether or not we were right about the mental state of the animals she took in to her home, Kathy knew these animals needed love and she was more than willing to be the one to provide it for them.
She loved gardening; need I say anymore on this subject?! Her gardens were as diverse, and as eclectic, and as beautiful and as exquisite as she was. Picasso would have loved to paint one of her gardens because he would have found more than a garden to paint; he would have found the soul of a woman who saw so much beauty and possibility in the world and expressed it through her very own floral canvas.
Kathy loved her grandchildren! They were the pride of her life. She loved them all “to the moon and back” and she reveled in every waking moment she shared with each of them. They filled her heart with love as much as she touched theirs with great compassion and dedication. Her smile was as wide as the great Mississippi when she was with her grandchildren and it illuminated even the darkest of rooms.
And finally, Kathy loved holidays; oh, how she loved her holidays. I remember her staying up all night on Christmas Eve to wrap presents which ultimately led to her not wanting to wait any longer for us to open them. So Kathy, being Kathy, blared the Elton John Christmas Song “Step into Christmas” as loud as she could at five o’clock in the morning as she danced around the Christmas tree and sang as loudly as she could until we were all awake and ready to celebrate with her. Kathy loved all holidays and made sure every holiday, every birthday, every engagement, every christening, and every other moment in our lives was celebrated with the reverence it deserved.
And if you hadn’t guessed by now, Kathy loved each and every person she met in her life. You are all part of the pages of her life that brought her so much joy, a lot of fun, a little bit of mischief, some great adventures and a life filled with love.
Kathy loved her children with all of her heart and she did everything she could to make sure they had everything they ever needed. Kathy was a rock, a foundation, a person by which we have all come to count on in our lives and although Stephanie hates when I make these kinds of comparisons; I must admit, in this way, Stephanie is exactly like her mother. Stephanie will never have to look far to find her mom because Kathy will live on in her heart forever.
Kathy’s passion in life was to teach; young and old alike. She always had a message for all of us. Even in her final days when people came to our home to visit Kathy, Kathy would always give her visitors a great big smile that warmed their soul and she would hand them a pin that read “Love Kindness.” And there was no greater ambassador than Kathy to carry this message because Kathy was one of the warmest, most gracious and kindest people I ever had the pleasure to know.
On the morning of July 2nd, the Angels of Heaven gathered together as our loving God opened the gates of the new Garden of Eden and welcomed Kathy home to his kingdom and her very own “Garden of Glory.” Her life was full of love and as we move forward in our lives without Kathy, our hearts will ache because we will miss a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a confidante, a teacher, a neighbor, a sister, and a truly inspirational woman. But Kathy will always live in our hearts forever and I believe I can safely speak for us all when I say; we are all better people because we had Kathy in our lives.