Remembering Kathy

Early in my relationship with my husband, there were people my husband wanted me to meet.  He wanted me to be sure to get to know the people who mattered the most to him. He introduced me to my beloved sister in law on our second date.

Among the people it was important for me to meet were Art and Kathy. Art had taught my husband in Hebrew high school. As time went on Art became a dear friend and a major influence not just in my husband's life but in the larger framework of Jewish scholarship and the Jewish world as a whole.
By the time my husband and I met, my husband and Art and Kathy had been friends for at least fifteen years. We visited them in Western Massachusetts where they were spending the summer just a few months after we started going out.

Art was (and is)well known as a scholar.  Kathy was brilliant at conversation. She had a great sense of the absurd.

 A Kathy story might wind it's way through the the highest echelons of Jewish academia but the esteemed protagonist might have chosen a dribble glass as his drinking vessel of choice throughout a long weekend visit. The story would involve both the wisdom that came out of the protagonist's mouth along with an account of his perturbed puzzlement all weekend at the dribbly glass.

Listening to those stories made me feel like I was living in a Jewish version of The New Yorker Magazine. A place where seriously smart people were also seriously funny.

I was in those days, absurdly young. I was much younger than my now husband who was several years  younger than Art and Kathy.  Kathy always included me and made me feel like a valued part of the conversation.

Kathy was a great Jewish educator, but as a conversationalist, she was an artist. She was not just a great talker, she was also  a generous listener.

 Kathy was diagnosed with Parkinson's several years ago. While the physical symptoms were difficult, the real insult began when Kathy's speech became impaired.

We arrived home from our trip to California at 3:00 am on Thursday morning. Thirteen hours later we got the sad email from my sister that Kathy had died. Within an hour my husband was Boston bound for the funeral. He is now on his way home.

I have spent the day thinking about dinner after dinner listening to Kathy's laugh, Remembering sweet and loopy stories where she was as likely to be the butt of the humor as some intellectual luminary whose books is probably sitting on your bookshelf right now.

 I am remembering the last time we spent time together alone. We went to see an exhibit of Picasso drawings at MOMA together. Kathy was already using a walker and speaking was no longer easy. We both loved the exhibit and our lunch in the museum cafeteria. We were supposed to come hear Art be the keynote speaker at a commencement later in the day. A miscommunication from Art had the two of us running all over the city in sort of a mad-cap Keystone cops sort of a way.

Our adventure involved finding cabs in midtown during rush hour with sturdy businessmen pushing Kathy and her walker out of their way and making it nearly impossible for us to find a taxi. During our last ride we were both exhausted and laughing giddily. We had an impossibly short amount of time to get uptown to hear Art speak. The taxi driver insisted on driving us to the wrong location. We finally convinced him of our intended destination. The time was ticking away. We assumed we would be late and would miss Art's talk.
 We finally arrived. We rushed to our seats, as fast as an impaired person with Parkinsons who is walking with a walker can rush. We arrived just a few moments before Art was to speak. We had made it!
For the  several minutes minutes we sat in our seats and just giggled. We had made it, despite the mistaken trip downtown, despite the horrors of finding a taxi at rush hour, despite the terrible traffic, despite our driver's detour. We were where we needed to be, at the time we needed to get there. We had gotten to that commencement by way of a Kathy story.

 קריינדל בת שמעון ולאה
 יהי זכרה ברוך


  1. So sorry for your loss, Sarah. Hard to lose good people in our lives.

  2. I'm very sorry for your loss, Sarah. Thank you for sharing the story.

  3. I am sorry to hear your friend is gone. It sounds like she was a very special person, and especially to you and your husband. Big Hugs,

    1. Kathy was special. Thank you so much for your kind words.


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