We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Celebrating Kimmy

  Thank you so much for all of you who made it out today to celebrate Kim!  What an amazing mass Father Harry orchestrated!  He really captured Kim with the readings he chose and his entire style today...
  I have so many people to thank for making it a Kimmy day:  My neighbor Brian, who made the beautiful collages of Kim and made them into posters.  Brian also made the slide show that brought me to my knees - why should I complain?  I had all of those experiences with Kim that you saw in those photos!  Thank you to Mary and Ami, who found a sign in book - I can't wait to go through it - this was a something that had alluded me and they said, 'no problem, we got it' and Ami even made the ladybug cupcakes!!!  Thank you to Janene, Andrea and Kim - who together handled the 'dash' poem mass cards, the euglogy and a reading.  Thank you to Amy, who read the dash poem and has done so much for us.  Thank you Kenny, for keeping me grounded during this beautiful tribute to Kim, where I promised to shed only happy tears, but, selfishly, I was missing Kimmy, thanks for your reading, too!  Thank you to Father Harry, who did such an great job capturing Kimmy.  Thank you to Rosa and Vito, who, once again fed us, but not just us, made enough to feed about 400 people - most of the food was gone!  It was delicious and they worked so hard to make Kimmy's day special.  Thanks, again, to Andrea, Janene, Kim and their mom, Angie, who labored until after 1 a.m. to make those scrumptious rice krispy treats that I am so addicted to.   And thank you to my District Manager with Barnes & Noble, Tom, who came down from Phoenix, on his day off, to run my store, so my entire team could be there to support me and to celebrate Kim!!
   I know there are so many more thank yous, I could go on and on...it was so good to see so many people there for our family...
   Afterward, my east coast family, Amy, Tom and Alex, Betsey, Brian, Hadley and Mitchell, Andrea, Lexy and Brianna, came back to my house - it was so good to see them all...
   I could feel Kim's presence during the mass today - saw her in the glorious sunset and felt her as I talked with her brother, sister and my sisters at our home...she was absolutely the most incredilbe person I've ever met...I will continue to do better, thanks to her...and to all of you...

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Kimmy...

  On the eve of Kimmy's celebration, I'd like to share this with you...

"So as you read this note, my friends,
 I'd love stay with you all.
 Please smile when you think of me,
 my body's gone, that's all."
                                       -Dave Mustaine, Megadeth
   Ok, so how can I connect the Megadeth song I've added to the playlist and Kim?  Well, truthfully, I am the metal fan in the family, but one of the things that, early on, really bonded Kim and I, was our music.  Kim was not the like most of the girls that I knew, who liked dance music and pop tunes - she was deeper.  When we met, we both enjoyed Aerosmith, The Who, AC-DC, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc - I had never met a girl who listened to rock.  We ended up seeing dozens of concerts together and having a blast at them all - best concert?  David Bowie, who we saw at least 5 times.  We saw Pink Floyd 3 times, the last time in '94 at ASU stadium.  Most surreal - Depeche Mode (yes, we were well rounded), one we fell asleep at?  The Grateful Dead - they took 2 hours to play 3 songs.  I loved seeing shows in Philly, there were always plenty of street vendors outside selling t-shirts and soft pretzels.  We also saw Guns 'N Roses - maybe the only time Axl showed up on time.  Scariest show for Kim?  Fight - featuring Rob Halford of Judas Priest.  We were moving towards the stage and Kim yelled 'No Dave, there's a fight breaking out!  Let's go back!'...I explained that it was not a fight, but a mosh pit, but we stayed far enough back to keep Kim comfortable.  I once 'lost' a contact so far back up into my eye at a Santana concert in Philly, that I had to go to a little medical tent they had set up, where some guy used an IV bag of saline to drip into my eye and reached in with a gloved hand and scooped it out...We had a lot of fun.
   Anyway, Kim liked  'A Tout Le Monde', by Megadeth.  We had gone to school with one of their drummers, Jimmy Delgrasso, who has since dropped the 'L' and goes by Degrasso.  Tonight, over dinner at Viro's Italian Bakery, I stated that Jimmy was Liberty High School's most famous alumni.  Kim's brother, Kenny, came up with some semi-famous alumni, but none as successful as Jimmy, who has also drummed for Y&T, White Lion, Ozzy Osbourne, Suicidal Tendencies and is currently with Alice Cooper.  Kim's brother in law, Todd, graduated from Freedom, the rival high school, who has the Rock, Dwayne Johnson, as their most famous...I personally favor Degrasso over Johnson.
     At the dinner tonight, Janene unveiled a form of mass card that she designed for tomorrow and the eulogy for Kimmy...her sister's Kristie and Andrea were a big help with both - they've worked hard to make Kimmy's day special.  Brian brought along several large posters he designed with photos of Kim - they are beautiful.  He really captured Kim and all that she was.  Kenny and I broke down - he was able to bring me back around pretty quickly - it's hard to get my arms around this, and I look to Kim for guidance and inspiration - she would tell me, look at all of those wonderful times we had together...and smile!  Brian has also worked hard on the slide show presentation for tomorrow.  My voice is already gone from tonight.  Vito and Rosa fed our entire east coast family, and our southwest family - all of whom have been so helpful.

      One more thing...our first Christmas together, back in 1976, I proudly presented Kimmy with a sterling silver necklace with a charm of a little girl and little boy kissing...she still has it!  I bought it at the Westgate Mall, where we first met.

       Hope to see you all tomorrow to celebrate Kimmy - please know that the tears that you see will be ones of joy, for the 33 years that I was blessed to have known Kim and for all of the incredible times we shared.  I cherish them all...
"Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do...but how much love we put in that action"
                                                                                            -Mother Teresa
Thanks Jodi for this quote - I always thought Kimmy was our Mother Teresa of the desert!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Prepping for Saturday's Celebration of Kimmy

    Today, my mom and Kim's brother, Kenny, flew in from Bethlehem, PA.  The bambini's were delighted to see them and had fun playing with Uncle Kenny.  The kids all went to school today, Tonio had pajama day and told me he had to go back, because everyone wanted him there.  Mrs. Schrantz had his classmates draw him pictures and write to him when Kimmy passed away and they all said how much they missed him.  It really touched little Antonio to be so loved by his friends...Autumn was ready to go back, too.  Again, the love and caring these two receive at Cottonwood is extraordinary - everyone welcomed them back and Ms. Bryson, the principal, walked to class with us.  Mrs. Schrantz took time to let me know during the day that Antonio was doing great and Ms. Bryson called to let me know she had checked in on Autumn, who was making gingerbread houses and Tonio, who was watching Polar Express and they were having fun.  It was very comforting to get that news.  Cody had a great day, receiving 4 awards at his end of quarter awards ceremony - one for high honor roll, one for perfect attendance, one for P.R.I.D.E., a citizenship type of program and one for Art.  I was so proud and knew that Kimmy was smiling down from above on our boy. 
    My neighbor, Brian, is buys preparing a slide show for Saturday...Amy and I helped sift through boxes of pictures and memories, uncovering relects from our past...a receipt from a hotel at Beach Haven, New Jersey from August 1986 - we loved that beach, which is on Long Beach Island.  L.B.I. has beautiful beaches - it is a barrier island, 6 miles off of the mainland - 18 miles long and 3 miles wide at it's widest spot.  We would go there several times every summer beginning in 1984 spending all day on the beach, riding waves, swimming out to the sand bar at low tide and dodging the crabs that lived there.  In the evening, we'd sometimes go crabbing in the bay or go out to dinner and then go see a band or two.
     There were also movie ticket stubs, a collage of photos Kim had put together of us when we graduated from Liberty High School in 1983, college photos, photos from our vacations to Arizona in 1987 and 1989 - back before Old Tucson burned down - found some great ones of Kim, who was asked to participate in a stunt show, knocking out a few hired guns, and many, many incredible memories we were blessed to share together.
     I spent some time with Father Harry, at St. Pius, who will preside over the celebration of Kimmy's life, recounting many stories of Kim's kindness and how much she reminded me of a Mother Teresa type of person, in that she was always helping others, never putting herself first and finding the good in every person she met or situation she was in.  Above all, never complaining, but making the best of the situation and learning from it to do better in the future.  While I was there, the surgeon who performed her gall bladder surgery, Dr. Atkinson (of Bristol, PA, where my Dad grew up!), called to say he had just heard about Kim and how touched he was by Kim and her positive attitude and what an incredible person she was - he wanted me to know he was on call this weekend, and as long as it was quiet, he would be there Saturday  - another person Kim touched!  I have received several calls, emails, etc with people telling me that this experience and Kim have made them want to be better people, and telling me that this has reopened there eyes, giving them new appreciation of what they have - amen!  Kimmy's bright rays of sunshine touch more people!!  She had that way, without being pushy or egotistical, but just living her life the way she thought she should, and loving and caring for the people she came in contact with, just as Jesus wants us to...
     Anyway, I miss her so much and keep seeing signs of her - in the beauty of the mountains, that stray ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds, the soft sound of the falling rain today - and in the loving, caring support of all of you...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Westgate Mall

    I'd like to get in a few fond memories over the next few days if I can...here's how it all began for Kim and I...
 Back in 1976, when we were in 7th grade, the 'cool' thing to do was to walk up to the mall with your buddies and hang out at Record City, seeing what new vinyl had come in.  I'll never forget that November day, when Jim Durner, Jerry Mooney and myself were flipping through 45's, looking for our favorite singles.  My buddy, Jerry, was looking out of the store into the mall and said 'wow...' we all looked up and saw two girls going past...we went out into the mall and followed them.  In front of a store called Hickory Farms, one of them glanced over her shoulder - freezing me with deep blue eyes...locking for one sweet moment...and I was lost.  We followed her, Kimmy of course, and her friend, Tracy (they have been great friends all of these years!), but I could not find the courage to speak to someone so beautiful...
    I couldn't get her off of my mind the rest of the weekend.  Imagine my surprise, on Monday morning, when this radiant young lady walked into my English class, in slow motion, catching my eyes, briefly, before sitting down.  I couldn't believe I hadn't seen her before and made every effort to impress her over the next few weeks.  Of course, I didn't know what to say, so I relied on other ways to win her over...
    The next day, I got to English early, and climbed into a large, armoir like bookcase that we had in class, knowing the teacher would open it first thing, as we were reading 'The Pearl', as a class.  When she swung open the double doors, there I sat on a shelf, pretending to be engrossed in the book.  I casually got up, walked to my seat, like it was perfectly natural for me to be in there, saying nothing.  It got a good laugh, and I was warmed to see, the girl of my dreams, Kim, spare me a smile, which lit me up for the rest of my life.  The classroom was on the first floor, and sometimes, when the teacher's back was to the class, I'd get up and hop out of the window.  I'd come back in through the front door and get back to my seat.  I was very mature, eh?
   Over the next few weeks, I was finally able to bring myself to speak to her and found her so incredibly down to earth, with a soft, angelic voice and a wonderful laugh...over the next four months or so, we dated and became great friends - my very first for real girlfriend.  We loved to walk home after school together, holding hands, and grab a twin pop at Mike's corner store on 7th and Union Blvd - her favorite was vanilla flavor, mine rootbeer.  I would often ride my skateboard the three blocks down the street from my house to hers, bringing with me my posse of friends to further impress her with how cool I was.  We'd sit on her front porch and talk.
   School dances were the best.  Again, I'd be with all of my friends, and when a slow song came on, Kim and I would go out and dance together...she always smelled so good!  After the dance, we'd walk the couple of miles to Burger King and eat burgers and then walk slowly home, not wanting the evening to end...
   This was the beginning of 33 years of friendship...Thank you Kimmy, I love you...
Love, Dave

Celebration of Life

Kim's Celebration 
of Life  

Saturday, December 18, 2010, at 2:30 p.m.
St. Pius Church
1800 N. Pio Decimo
Following the service, our friends, Vito and Rose of Viro's 
will provide food at the church. 
Thank you for your love and support of our beautiful Kim.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back down the rabbit hole...

   When you haven't slept in days, it no longer matters if you are asleep or awake, everything looks the same. 
   If you have not read 'The Art of Racing in Rain' Garth Stein, do not!  I pretty much just lived it.
    Our Kimmy, our shining angel, left us last night.  She went so peacefully, with a whisper, so Kim like.
    How did it happen so fast?  We were blessed with wonderful 5 days with Kim - she seemed like she was going in the right direction.  She had a great appetite, enjoyed helping around the house and with the kids, visiting with friends...she was getting some decent rest, too.
    It was that nagging cough...I gave her her nightly Lovenox injections and she told me I was her knight in shining armour, saving her life...then she fell asleep for about an hour.  The cough woke her up and she stayed up until about 2, falling into a troubled sleep.  I could her some rattling in her lungs and asked if she was bringing up any blood and she said no.  Around 3, we moved her out to her Lazy Boy and she said her stomach was a mess, so I made her some raison toast and brought her ginger ale.  By 4, it was clear I had to get her back to St. Joseph's, and I called 911.
   The ambulance had her to St. Joseph's by 5 and she needed 15 liters of air to breath.  They got her looking great, as our neighbor, Amy, can attest to.  She snuck into ER to bring me coffee and a protein shake from our friend Lupe, by telling them she was my sister and Kim was so happy to see her.  Her color and breathing were doing better.  T
   They took chest x-rays and sent Kim to have a CT scan.  The CT scan required Kim to lay flat, which distressed her poor body terribly and she started to sink.  Her breathing becoming more and more labored.  The CT scan showed horrible developments, so Dr. McCarten consulted with Kim and I on two options.
   #1 - tape a high powered oxygen mask to Kim's face, which he compared to hurricane force like wind being forced into her.  If the liquids that showed up in her lungs on the CT scan were mucous related, this would help...if it was blood, it would kill her quickly.
   #2 - put Kim on a ventilator, perform a bronchial scope and see what was causing the bleeding and go from there.
   We decided, together, that #2 was the only way to go.  They put Kim under after we had some time to give each other loving words and embraces.  We told each other how very much we loved one another and then I had to go.  I went out to St. Joseph's garden while the Dr. performed the procedure.  The hosptial chaplain, Wendy, came out to get me and told me the blood was in both lungs and that they would need to be cauterized.  Dr. Zaetta was set up to do that.
   Monsignor Tom stopped by to pray with Kim.  She was out, but we were told she could hear us.  I let her know that she was the best friend, the best wife and the best mom, ever.
   As the time rolled closer to her procedure, Dr. McCarten advised me that this was simply a 'bandaid', many other things were starting to happen as Kim's cancer was spreading like wildfire.  Now in her pancreas, thyroid, lungs, liver and bones.  How did it happen this quickly??  She was producing lactic acid at a tremendous rate and an infectious disease Dr. was consulted.  He placed Kim on 3 anti-biotics to see if that would help.  But her blood pressure was dropping - her liver was failing!
   Father Harry came in and annointed Kimmy.  He prayed with us.  By this time, the bambini's were brought it.  Wendy, the chaplain, had arranged for a private meeting room for us.  I let them know their mama's situation.  We have never hid anything from these guys, or candy coated anything, but, of course, they were upset.  Poor little Antonio got sick in the trash can.  I let them know what they would see, that their mama was hooked to a breathing machine.  She had iv's in both arms, out of her chest and her neck.  They handled it incredibly well.  We visited with Kim while they told her how much they loved her.  Then, Father Harry hugged each bambino and prayed with all of us.
   We had a lot of support at St. Joseph's...Betsey and Brian (who's birthday it was), Amy and her son Alex, Andrea, Mario and their son, David, Angie and Janene, took turns consoling us and keeping us strong.
   I went back to Kim's side, alone and waiting for the good Lord to take her. 
   She was such a good person.  To call her my soul mate would be a disservice - she was so much more than that.  We will keep her alive in our lives, as she would want.  I told the bambini's that mama would not want us to complain, but to appreciate all we have.  I had been praying for Kim's recovery...I had been praying for a miracle - what I realize now, is, that Kim was the miracle!  I was blessed to know her for 33 years.  We were together 27 years and married (here at the San Xavier Mission) for 17 years.  I just feel so bad for our sweet bambini's - with no mother to guide them - I promised them that I will do my best to be both mom and dad for them.
   As we left St. Joseph's for the last time, we took the stairs together...we walked past St. Joe's statue and I told the kids, 'Mom said that this was her journey...now it is our journey'.
   I believe Kimmy is in heaven now, probably walking on the beach there...reunited with her Dad and relatives and our pups, Cajun and Zona.
   And she is in no pain, she is at peace and with the Lord...

I'm going to try to work on funeral arrangements and will post them when I figure this out.  Please do not send flowers -we are inudated (and we have penty of food!) - if you want to send something, I am thinking of starting a foundation, to help families like ours, through a time like this, so if you feel like you need to do something, do that, please no flowers.  I'd also love to put a 'thank you' billboard - if anyone knows how to do this or has connections, let me know.
Thank you all for all the tremendous love, caring, support and, of course your prayers!!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kimmy Sunday

  An unprecedented 5th good day in a row!!  Although Kim did not get a chance to walk today (she wanted to use her walker our front), she ate well, still no oxygen and, since it was another incredible day here in Tucson, we put Betsey's recliner on our front porch, where Kim sat for several hours and enjoyed the birds, trees, blue sky (no clouds!) and watched the bambini's play in the park across the street.  By the time we brought her in, she had developed a nagging cough, but ate well - Betsey made us tortellini soup!
  Kim has been so strong during this 'journey', but today had two small 'bumps in the road'.  She cried this morning when she found she still could not walk, despite her legs coming down to near normal, she just does not have the strength or air capacity.  I held her and she said 'there, that's my 5 minute pity party'.  Later, we were going through pictures to print for Autumn's class Christmas project and Kim broke down again saying 'what a wonderful life we've had...'. I told her we were just waiting to see what wonderful things we would do next!  I can still count on one hand how many times she has cried since this has happened, she stays bright, always illuminating those around her.
  The bambini's made the most of this beautiful Sunday.  After breakfast, the kids and I took Bella for a walk out in the desert.  It was an amazing morning and the sun popped off of the surrounding mountain ranges.  When we got back, Andrea picked up Autumn and took her along with Breanna and Lexy to a party at Peter Piper Pizza.  Then, they went shopping at Target, Famous Footwear and Fry's.  They had a lot of fun.  Meanwhile, the boys played ping pong in the garage and then played out front with their friends Alex, Mitch and Hadley.  I took Cody and Alex on a bike ride through the desert - those guys wiped me out!  I could have used some of Kim's oxygen that we still have at the house when we got home!!  The boys had fun doing jumps and riding wheelies.
   After dinner, we watched Elf with Breanna, Lexy and Andrea.  The kids love that one, a Will Ferrell classic.
   Now Kim is resting in bed...her main concern tomorrow is having the right snacks and lunch!  She has told me that, after I drop off the kids at school, I should swing by Bruegger's, get a couple of breakfast sandwhiches and also a couple of their turkey sandwhiches...on rosemary/olive oil bagels, her favorite!  I know she must be nervous about her chemo tomorrow, but, all that shows is excitement to get going on the fight she has ahead of her - let this be the first punch she throws! 
   Today is the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the appearance of the Blessed Mother to Juan Diego in Mexico.  We take strength in this story and pray to Mary to watch over Kimmy and help her get well...an Advent miracle..