We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Kimmy!

      Happy Birthday Kimmy...where to begin?  Kim always had a love/hate relationship with her birthday...she never lamented  the 'big' ones, like turning 40, believing it was 'just another day', but she varied on how she wanted to celebrate, or whether she wanted anyone to make a fuss over her!  As you can imagine, she'd try to keep it simple...but I wouldn't let her!
      But, one of my favorite Kimmy birthday stories, is from when she was in 1st grade.  Kim invited her whole Brownie troop to her house for a birthday party...only it wasn't her birthday...and she wasn't home as the guests and parents began to arrive.  Her startled Dad took things in stride, thanking the child for the gift, explaining that there was a mix up and smiling the whole time.  When Kim got home...she found that she now had to return the gifts to each child and apologize to the parent!
      Since Kim's birthday was in March, it was not the ideal beach weather, so we often would go skiing or ice skating.  I took her to Colorado one year for her birthday to ski.  And, one year, we did go down to Long Beach Island for her birthday and found it fun to walk the cold beaches all bundled up, and having it all to ourselves.
     For her 40th, we had a big celebration at Pinnacle Peaks, a wild west steak house - her Mom and Jim came out and we had the entire Williams family there - having a table that literallly stretched the length of the room!
     Other years, we found ourselves at Chuy's with Betsey, Brian, Amy and Tom and their children.  Most recently, she liked to go to Zona 78.
      Today, after I dropped the bambini's at school (I made them pancakes with sliced strawberries for breakfast, a Kimmy favorite for them), I headed out to the San Xavier Mission, where we were married on May 21st, 1994.  It was a surreal drive...I was doing good, cruising along at 75, when...wooossshhh - the world began to spin backwards, as I strained to see the road through the tears - it felt as though I had slowed down to about 20, the surrounding scenery growing impossibly large...and the poof!  I was back...
         I caught sight of the church...I remember, each week, when we attended Mass here, we'd see who saw the church first and call out 'the White Dove in the Desert', which is the Mission's nick name...I ducked inside just as Mass began.

        During Mass, the father reminded us that we do not know how long we have on this earth and should not be worried about material things or what we are having for dinner or what to wear tomorrow, rather, we should worry about the well being of one another and loving each other...wow, how appropriate...and the tears began to flow...I couldn't help but look at the altar and remember meeting Kimmy there on our wedding day to exhange our vows, she a vision of lovliness...me, a nearly reformed train-wreck she was still cleaning up...

        After Mass, I approached the front and lit a candle for Kimmy, as we had done many times for loved ones, including her Dad, who also passed away from cancer.

            I lingered and took a bunch of photos - the inside of the church, so beautiful, with statues and paintings...
          Father Kino, who founded the church, is found in several places around the church...

          The upstairs balcony, has beautful murals and a old fashion organ - which was used during our wedding.
          Next, I went to the little side chapel, that pays homage to Mary...
     I placed a photo of Kimmy on the altar and lit candle for her here, too...again, we have lit many candles for loved ones in this shrine...

          I can't even tell you how many times Kim and I stopped in here to pray for someone...and, today, I was praying for her...and all of you, too...and, once again...lost it.
          This is a side entrance to the church to the north.  When we were running late for Mass, we would sometimes sit in this courtyard and listend to Mass - they keep the door open during Mass.  And when Cody and Autumn were little, they would run around here and play.

     Each week, after Mass, we would make the pilgrimage to the top of this little hill, where there is a large white cross...the kids especially liked this trek.
          On the east side of the hill, is this altar built into this grotto.  We'd always stop and pray here and the kids liked to see all of the belongings left behind to help their loved ones...I added a heart to the fence for Kimmy...
          After I walked back down the hill, I went into the courtyard, behind the church...it was next to this beautiful fountain, with humming birds darting by, and orioles high in the palm trees, that Kim and I had our wedding photos taken after the ceremony...oops, there goes gravity...I could feel the bricks beneath my feet begin to heave...when, I felt a steadying hand on my shoulder...through my fish eyed lenses, I could see it was a lady who had sat in the pew in front of me during Mass...she asked if I was ok, I could only nod...she asked if I was a tourist, like her...I told her I've lived in Tucson 18 years and was married here in '94 and that my son, Cody, was baptized here in '97...and then I melted, again. 
          Her name was Sherri and she was visiting Tucson from Nebraska with a friend, Stephanie...Sherri told me how she had lost her husband at the age of 49, almost 15 years ago...she told me that the first year is the hardest, as you 'anniversary' holidays and birthdays without your loved one....She asked where we were from originally...I told her we grew up three blocks from each other in Bethlehem, PA...she told me she was from Shippensburg, PA originally - where I graduated from college! We talked about Kim, and what a great person she was and Stephanie commented that God needs the really good ones more in Heaven, than here on earth.  And Sherri added, you know that she will be there waiting for you.  Her and her friend Stephanie were a steadying influence on me this morning and it was very obvious that they had lingered the 45 minutes or so after Mass that it took me to retrace Kim's and my footsteps, so that they could comfort me...Heaven sent...They promised to pray for my family and wished us well...
           Here is the school where Kim and I prepared for Cody's baptism and the sister teaching the class swallowed a slow moving fly!
             Finally, I stopped by the series of little gift shops within this enclosure (praying for the health and happiness of this seasoned couple going in before me)...where, on our first anniversary, I had a ring made for Kimmy by an Indian, Joe Begay.  He was such a colorful man.  He had a huge photo album of him acting in various movies filmed at Old Tucson, like Tombstone and a plethora of stories to tell.  He made Kim a beautiful, sliver ring, with a carving of the Mission on it, to represent our wedding there, a saguaro, to represent our love of Tucson, a roadrunner = Godspeed! and a sun, for happy days...Kim, in her usual Kim way, was overwhelmed by it and loved it.
            It was an amazing Mass and an incredible start to Kimmy's birthday!
            I stopped by Carondelet on my way across town and dropped off a large check to benefit Kimmy's Foundation - thank you all who have donated, and thank you to all of you who have purchased Knights of Columbus raffle tickets through me or St. Pius (50% of proceeds go to Kimmy's Foundation)!  Please remember to put Kimmy's name on the donation, or it will go into a general fund.
           Then, I went to see my friend, Dave Williams, over at Tatoo Artistry on Country Club and Pima...Dave added a little color to my shooting star, as a present for Kim's birthday...
         After the tatoo enhancement, I ran over to see Rosa and Vito at Viro's and had a cappuccino with them...they are leaving for Italy tomorrow, so it was nice to see them off and see them on Kimmy's birthday, too.
         When I picked up the bambini's, I ran into Mary Montes - Mary was Autumn and Tonio's kindergarten teacher...she helped with Kimmy's Celebration...she's always been a positive light for our family and her dad, Sam, has helped me navigate the legal waters following the loss of a loved one...Kimmy worked as Mary's parapro when she had Antonio in her class and absolutely loved her as a teacher and as a friend.  Kim would always say 'oh, when will her and Emilio have a baby?  Mary will be such a wonderful mom!'...well, today I got a great birthday gift on Kim's birthday, as Mary told me some fantastic news...she is pregnant!
         I was given exclusive rights to blog this great news!  Although, I failed to get it in writing...
         Our family is so happy for Mary and Emilio and pray for them and their little blessing!  They will be great parents!
        For dinner, we met up with Angie and her family - Angie and Mark treated us all to dinner at Kimmy's all time favorite restaurant...Zona 78!  There were 20 of us, and Vince, the manager there, did a great job to accomodate us as we overtook his restaurant. 

           Brendon, David, Cody, Autumn and Lexy shared this table - with the boys eating pizza and the girls going with the pasta!  Lexy and Autumn are styling in their matching fedora hats.
                  Mariah's pizza went missing and Breanna and Antonio always enjoy each other's company...

               Roshan, Kim and Micah enjoy their meal (didn't notice Micah was spinning his head around when I shot this, or I'd have retaken it!).  Kim is an RN and works on the 5th floor at St. Joe's, where Kimmy spent a couple of weeks - that team was so nice, caring and hard working!
        Mario gets ready to devour a bianco pizza - Angie and Mark have huge bowls of pasta with meatballs.  And Bryson is enjoying a pizza, too.  Their pizzas are made in a wood burning oven and are great.

               Andrea ponders the menu...before choosing...pizza!  We ate a lot of bianco pizza tonight!  Looks like Antonio is entertaining Breanna, Bryson and Mariah in the background.

                          Kason and Janene work on some bruschetta...I swear Brad was there a minute ago, but I did not seem to capture him on film, er, digitally.
           One last shot of the 'fedora sisters' enjoying their pasta...
           Anyway, our southwest family felt Kimmy's birthday would be better spent together...and they were right, we had a nice time...and, for once, I could not remember the first time we went to Zona 78, what the occaison was or why we decided to try this place - but, it has been Kimmy's favorite for several years.
           And, when we arrived home, exhausted from our emotional rollercoaster of a day, we found these tasty brownies in our fridge...courtesy of our neighbor, Amy!

              Amy took the recipe from a Chocolate cookbook that Kim used to use to make us luscious treats!  And, Amy, these would have made Kim proud!  They are so decadent!              Once again, the incredible support we have here, came through for us and helped make this day a good one, for Kimmy, on her special day...the stars were interspersed with whispy white clouds tonight when we went outside to say goodnight to Kimmy...each bambini intoned their special birthday wish to Mama and wished her a good night...and thanked her for this spectacular day (75 degrees, sunny, with beautiful, strands of clouds dotting the sky...)...
            Happy Birthday Love.




  1. Happy Birthday in heaven, Kim!! :)

  2. Happy Birthday Kim!!! Yesterday Noah pulled out our old video tapes from Tucson, I was brought to tears as I watched Noah's 2nd birthday party and saw Kim on the tape. We sat in silence for a moment in rememberance of Kim on her birthday.

  3. I'm glad that I could bring a little good news to Kim's birthday. I know exactly how Kim would have reacted..with lots of tears of joy at the news. It has been an emotional struggle trying to get pregnant and I know that Kim is my angel in heaven helping me. I just know she had a talk with God and let him know it was my time : ) I really believe she is watching over me and I can't wait to try and become the amazing mother she is.

  4. Happy Birthday to Kim! She is loved and missed! And congrats to Mary and Emilio! VERY happy for them!!!

  5. Happy Birthday Kim! We all love you and miss you. Heaven sure was celebrating on her birthday! Dave, our prayers are with you and the kids always.God bless you always.