Mary Kathryn was born on All Saints Day in 1955. She never went by Mary, her mother always called her Kathy after the character in Wuthering Heights. Why her mother did no simply name her Kathy to begin with is one of those great unanswerable questions. Kathy grew up in Florida just down the road from the Kennedy Space Center and watched man’s quest for the Moon first hand. Her mother was a secretary for NASA and shared exciting stories about the astronauts and scientists she worked with.
When Kathy was seventeen she joined the Navy and became a nurse. She served during the end of the Vietnam War and was stationed in Cuba when she met her future husband. He was a Marine pilot and the two fell in love, got married and moved to the El Toro Marine Base in Orange County, California. Kathy went back to school on the GI Bill and became a psychologist, alongside her husband. They opened a practice together and had a baby girl, who they named Kathryn, after her mother. (Side note: Two ultrasounds indicated they were going to be having a baby boy and after 27 hours of labor and a C-Section, there was a bit of surprise all around. As no girl names had been selected the couple dazedly named the child with the first name that came to mind.)
Kathy was a wonderful mother, patient and understanding with clear boundaries. She raised her daughter to trust herself and not let the voices of others drown out her own. She taught her that hard work, gratitude and service to others often led to a happier life than lazy indulgence. She showed her that no matter how royally you had screwed up, you could always dig out again if you just kept going.
When her daughter was thirteen, Kathy divorced her husband after a series of affairs. Now in her forties, Kathy began anew. She found a new job, got her own place and proceeded to support her daughter when her ex-husband lost the business. She put her daughter through college and made a new life for herself. When her daughter moved to a foreign country to teach, she was proud and sad and happy, all at the same time. When she moved back and went to graduate school, Kathy helped in any way she could and delighted in having her daughter close once more. The two traveled together, visiting the California Missions, taking the train to Seattle and renting an RV to cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway.
Then Kathy developed numbness in her right hand. Dismissing it as carpal tunnel at first, she finally went in to see a doctor and was told the tremor was caused by a tumor in her brain. The tumor was metastatic, meaning it had come from somewhere else. Kathy was diagnosed in October 2012 with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. She had a year or so to live.
Kathy immediately retired and moved in with her daughter. The two traveled more, went to the spa a lot and generally enjoyed life. They talked about the life they had shared, the dog they both loved and the future they would no longer have together. Kathy told her daughter to live well, to be strong and to dance, always dance.
Kathy died on May 29th, 2012. She was an amazing woman, incredibly strong and courageous in the face of death. Her bravery was inspiring to witness and her love was endless. She is gone now, but she is remembered by her friends, her daughter and you.