One of the last things Kenneth said to Nanny and me was, " Here's the magic. Take it, and don't spill it." Yes, he had some confusion at that time, but this made sense to me, and he couldn't have said a more perfect thing because the way he touched my life and the lives of countless others can only be described as magical.
Kenneth was such a spiritual and calm person, a man who found peace within himself. There has never been a more devoted caregiver, son, father, and grandfather, and there is no doubt that he has impacted his loved ones, the patients he cared for, and their families in major ways. But he would also leave behind thoughtful and simple surprises that would deeply touch others.
Once I hosted a cookout at my house and after everyone had left, I found a glass with a single white hydrangea he left for me in his space. He was always slipping me books he wanted me to read. On one of our family camping trips to a state park, I commented on how much I liked the Native America flute music they were playing in the gift shop. Six months later for Christmas, he presented me with the CD. He continues to surprise and comfort us, and after he passed away, we found a simple note he left for Nanny telling her what a blessing she was to him and how much he loved her.
Kenneth was a writer himself, and I enjoyed the unique way he phrased things. When I was excitedly telling him that I wanted to go to graduate school, he said to me, "You always drip with enthusiasm". At one of the recent visits to the nursing home, he looked at me and very clearly said, "The Lord's done all he can with you. Don't ya figure?"
I want to share with you some of the magic he's left behind. We can find him in the first spring violets, a summer fern, a fall pumpkin, in an autumn walk through the woods, in the smell of wood smoke. For the grandkids, he will come back to them each time they reach for a single stick of gum. We can see him in Nanny's eyes, in Emily's eyes, in Cliff's facial structure, in Larry's calm voice and quiet strength. We can see him in
devotion to Nanny and in Toby's excitement when Nanny comes home from the
store. We can see him in baby Bralen, whom he continued to call for even when
he couldn't remember anyone else.
Kenneth was my birthday twin, and I'll always find him on that day and in the books I think he'd enjoy, in windchimes I know he'd like, every time I walk through a greenhouse, and in the enjoyment I get from a cup of coffee. He will come to me when I'm out shopping and see a short sleeve plaid shirt in just the right shade of blue that would make his eyes sparkle. In so many ways, he's still with us and though we will spill tears, we all carry a little of the magic that will never go away.
I want to share what I feel is a message he left for us all. As we were going through some of his papers, we found a story he had been working on. It is called "Hill Teacher." There were many pages clipped together, but when I flipped them over, I found a passage from the story. It's part of the dialogue, but it's very fitting today, and out of all those pages, this is part I just happened to stop and read:
"It is wonderfully comforting, though, to have blessed assurance that there is a family circle in heaven which can never be broken. In this time and world we live in, religion comes back to doing the best we can for as long as we can. Part of the best we can do is to help others as you folks have helped me. We appreciate you. We love you. We will never forget you."