I went through my ‘See Friendship’ with Kathy on Facebook to see how long we had been friends. The first post seems to be May 7, 2011 (I am sure I knew her longer than that, but Facebook says otherwise). It was from Kathy to me. It read, “Happy Birthday” with three exclamation points. It makes perfect sense to me that the first Facebook post of our friendship was Kathy wishing me well. She wished all her friends well, and was proactive in seeking to make them happy. Hence, three exclamation points, because one was not happy enough.
She lived a cool life in a cool way, like she mastered the art of cool. I had floundered my way through for 47 years when I met her. She was 4 years younger than me, but light years ahead in ‘got this’. So why did she like me? It didn’t take long to figure out that Kathy liked almost everyone. She found things about people interesting. She found what they did and said and their memories and lives interesting. She liked coming to events that her friends were participating in. Whenever she came to something I was doing, I knew that she was there to check it out as much as to support me. Which I loved. Because she didn’t just show up out of love, but out of curiosity. Out of wonder.
Anyone who knows them knows that no one could rival the wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, and especially Halloween parties that Matt and Kathy threw for many years. The invitees would prepare their Halloween costumes for an entire year, at least in the brainstorming phase of planning. I thought about the costume for 11 months, then scrambled to put one together in the last few weeks. Kathy and Matt of course intricately planned each party, but as the hosts we all aspire to be, showed no stress, and enjoyed the parties as much as we did.
When I was moving from a townhouse to a studio, I was having an issue finding a place to put all my stuff. I was going to get a storage unit, but hadn’t done it yet, and the stress of the move was getting to me. Matt came to my rescue by offering the use of their living room: their LIVING room. I told him I had so many boxes, but he was undaunted. I piled my car full with less than half of my belongings and drove to their Salter Place house.
Matt met me at my car and helped haul the boxes into his porch and house. It was pretty full when the car was emptied, but I still had at least one more carload to bring over. I iterated my concern that Kathy would not like all these things piled up in their house, but he said that she would be happy to help. So, I finished stockpiling their living room with a fortress of boxes.
When I spoke with Kathy later, she told me not to be concerned about using their abode as a shed, and that I should just find a suitable storage, and get myself centered, and not worry. My things were at their house for a month, and every time that I checked, they said, “It’s okay.” Then I finally found a suitable unit, but it was in East Hanover. Matt said that he and Kathy would help me bring it all there, so that I wouldn’t have to make two trips.
That weekend I showed up, and we loaded our cars. Matt drove in their car, and Kathy came with me. I used GPS to get back to the Storage facility, as I had only been there once (let’s not discuss the fact that it’s across the street from my work). Kathy and I left before Matt, but he beat us there, because we kept getting lost. Being lost with Kathy, though a bit frustrating because Matt was waiting for us, was fun. We had to laugh at getting lost while GPS was on. We had old songs on, and were telling each other stories, and I am so glad for those few moments with just her and me.
When we finally got to the facility, I realized I mapped the one in Hanover, not East Hanover, so we had to leave and drive some more. We finally reached the right facility, and they rolled their sleeves up and we carried all the stuff in the facility.
Kathy came to Art’s Unbound Story Slam when I was reading. That was so special to me. My Darling Arthur was in the audience, and I was going to read a story about him, Dave Adox, and my Mom. When Kathy came, I was so happy. Every time she showed up to something I was involved in, that thing seemed so much better than I anticipated. After I read and she told me for the hundredth time that I had talent and should work harder on getting a book published, she and I sat together, and delighted in the stories of those who spoke after me. It was a lovely night.
She was always on me to make the book happen. She was subtle, and not so subtle. People I didn’t know would walk up to me at her parties and start a conversation. I would think, “This is one of the things I love about Matt and Kathy’s parties. Getting to know cool new people. But often, the person would switch topics by saying, “Kathy said your story is very interesting, and I should talk to you. She said you are writing a book.” I don’t know why it surprised me every time. She was always doing what she could to help her friends become a better person. It always made me happy when it happened. I knew that someone believed in me and wanted others to feel the same.
I loved when Kathy would come to my fundraisers. It was just one more way that she showed me how much she cared. Not just about me, but about others. When Kathy walked in the door, my sisters and I would light up. She had that effect on so many people that I know. The moon shines because its surface reflects the light from the sun. She made us shine, casting her light on us, and all that specialness reflected from us. She made us feel special. She made us know we were special. We had to be. Kathy was extraordinary, she was our friend, and she believed in us; we were awesome.
Above all, Kathy was such a fun friend to have around. If you asked her if she wanted to do something, she often said yes. And she would proactively ask me to do things. Matt said Kathy thought of Betsy as a Marlowe Sister. She could have easily been one also. We all thought so very highly of her.
The last time that I hung out with Kathy was last winter. It was cold and miserable the night I went to her house to have dinner and watch, “The Glass Castle”. Years before, when I told Kathy that I read the book, and it was so freaking amazing, she said she had worked with Jeannette Walls. That just added to my immense admiration for the coolest kid among us, Kathy Kalafut. And, it gave me another ‘me n’ her’ thing that made time with her seem so natural, yet so magical.
Finally, on that cold night, I was welcomed into Kathy and Matt’s warm home, served a marvelous meal, and then we went upstairs to the third floor, and watched, “The Glass Castle” with a warm bowl of popcorn. We didn’t speak much throughout the movie, but it was just so comfortable spending that time with her enjoying something that was ours.
I thought I would always have these times with Kathy. But I never took them for granted. I am so grateful to have had such a cool, loving friend. I am so happy to say that I was one of the multitudes whom Kathy loved…and who loved Kathy!