We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kim's Cakes and Cars

             It was a Kim worthy event.  Several hundred people gathered today, at Rincon Vista Middle school, to share breakfast, hear music, watch performances, see classic cars and visit the book fair.  The cafeteria was decorated so nicely festive music playing.  It was nice to see a lot of the teachers and staff that Kim had the opportunity to work with while at Rincon Vista.

            The breakfast was pancakes, scrambled eggs with peppers (provided by Viro's), sausage, fruit, coffee and juice.  Vito Jr. commented on how nice to see the community together, having fun, especially during the holidays.  He hasn't witnessed this camaraderie outside of the Rita Ranch/Vail area.

                         Rincon Vista graciously provided us a table, up front, to promote Kim's cookbook, sell the "Random acts of KIMness" bracelets and hand out literature about how the funds from Kim's foundation are used to help people/families here in Tucson (special thanks to Aimee Snyder for making the yellow poster board with foundation info on it!).  The Perrini family (Kirk, Alyssa and Annette) volunteered to work the table while I flipped some pancakes.  Later, Tammy, Emma and Sarah LaPlant came and helped work the table until the event was over.

                                    Annette, Vito Jr and Patti enjoying some deep discussion...

                                    Cindy Petersen, office manager at Desert Sky Middle School, and her daughter Sarah came by to show their support.  The Petersen's lived two doors down from us at our old house.  Sarah and Cody have been in classes together since kindergarten and now have honors world history together (in which they speak to each other with British accents Sarah informed me this morning).  Cindy was a huge help in pulling off 'A Night in Italy for Kim' in October.

                                   Aimee Snyder spoke to us about nutrition (she was responsible for having fruit and eggs added to the breakfast!) while Lydia Crain, Principal, looks on.  Cody had a blast hanging out with Lydia's son, Trevor.  They had run against each other in track meets over the years.  This morning, they used the wheel base from the garbage cans to ride down an embankment in the school's courtyard, careening down the slightly muddy slope as fast as they could.

                           Loss.  We all have experienced it at some level or another.  This was evident at the pancake breakfast today, as Brent Edwards, assistant principal, announced Kim's Foundation and what we were working towards.  He then introduced a young man, 13, who had lost his father in the middle east war  and had started a foundation in memory of his dad.  The bracelets he was selling has the slogan "All gave some, some gave all".  He was very courageous in telling his story and proud of the ways he is honoring his father.  Next to him, was a table for Shayan Kindness foundation, set up to honor a little 7 year old who perished from a rare muscular disease.  Countless people came up to me throughout the breakfast to relate their story of a family member who passed from cancer.  It surrounds us, yet, I realized once again, that I always felt somewhat insulated...safe? Naive?  I'm not sure what the right word is, but you know that feeling - you feel sympathy for someone when you hear about sickness or disease, but it does not exactly cross your mind that it will happen to you.  So, when loss happens, it manages to sneak right up on you and WHACK!!!!!!!!  You get the picture.
         On our way home today, Autumn articulated her sadness for the young boy who's dad was gunned down by Afghan police and for the little girl who lost her life at the tender age of 7.  She is realizing that it could be worse for our family...
                           I had the opportunity to speak about Kim this morning, for which I was grateful.  I was able to talk about her giving spirit, never giving to get recognition or praise and how what we were doing with her foundation, was to keep her giving spirit alive.  As much as I don't mind public speaking, it always gets me to speak about Kim.  Perhaps because I cannot just present facts and figures - when I try to describe Kim and all she did to people who never were blessed to have met her, I know that I must go deeper to better paint the picture, with feeling, her essence...and that is when it gets me.
                           Fortunately, for our family, the supportive group at Rincon Vista was right there to share their stories, generosity, their prayers, their blessing, smiles, hugs and well wishes.

                             Thank you,


Friday, December 2, 2011

Throwing Curve Balls!


           "I keep throwing everyone curveballs!" Kim told her doctors, as they worked together to figure out how to clear the blood clots out of her legs and keep the cancer from reforming them elsewhere.  It was a tough day for Kimmy.  She had one of her rare down days, seeming to realize that no matter how positive she remained, her body was not cooperating.  She was worn down physically too from the procedures, the tumor in her lung restricting her air intake, worrying for her family and not sleeping well.  And Kim's Mom and Jim flew back to Pennsylvania. 
            Her big win of the day, was, being able to come off of oxygen!  The bambini came down to celebrate.  They had another surprise, as Andrea picked them up and took them to the Reid Park Zoo for their annual Zoolights.  They decorate the zoo and there are so many lights, carolers, bands, hot cocoa and cookies, etc.  We would take the kids every year...last year was the first we missed, but Andrea made sure that the bambini did not miss out and had a wonderful time.

Today, I had the kids start to decorate the house.  Brendon and Cody had put the tree up for us on Sunday, and I pulled out the boxes of ornaments for them to go through - here's one of our favorites:

                           Kim, Ami Bunch and Mary Montes.  Ami and Mary gave this beautiful ornament last year.  The photo was taken three years ago, when Kim worked in Mary's classroom as a parapro (we'd joke that she was Tonio's parapro!).

They had fun looking at all of the ornaments and talking about their memories..."Oh, I made this one in class" or "Mama got you this one Dad!  It's from Italy!".  Lots of "I remembers"... Last year, they had a lot of help decorating.  Our neighbor, Alex and Cody put up the tree and the Muszynski's and Deaver family's decorated the tree and the Castillo's put up Christmas decorations, like the star above the tree.

They did a great job!  We also replaced Bella's eyes with Christmas lights.  So they glow better.  Pretty, eh?


This is Bella, joining us for dinner (Sopa de Fideo), before we put in her lightbulbs.

This was a photo I took of our morning sky, from the outdoor stage at Cottonwood, while dropping off the bambini.  I'm afraid we may have run out of summer...the day dawned chilly and rainy.  But, the sky gave us spectacular views like this throughout the day, complete with rainbows.

                                 Today is the feast day of Saint Frances Xavier.  The Mission was decorated to celebrate this event and the priest talked about the challenges and hardships that San Xavier faced, when asked by the Lord, to travel around the southwest back in the 1500's, founding missions and converting those he found along the way to Christianity  It was a beautiful Mass.

                                While unpacking the Christmas decorations, I came across a stack of cards from last year...from all of you...they were amazing and heartfelt.  Today, a year ago, Kim was dubbed the Angel of St. Joseph's Hospital...these cards remind me of all of the angels around us.  I have two boxes of angels left by well-wishers hanging from our olive tree out front.  We will re-hang them over the next few days in a Christmas tribute to our Angel.


Thursday, December 1, 2011


                  These last few days, I've gone back over the blogs that I've written.  My favorite are the earliest ones, when Kim would sit by my side and contribute, enthusiastically; "Tell them about this.." she'd say or "Have you put in this?" 

                   She was having just a ton of blood transfusions...do they use 'tons' to measure liquids ever?  I mean, the amount of blood they needed to put in this poor girl alarmed me.  And Kim?  I don't know - she asked "Where did this blood come from?"...our friend, Darlene, happened to be the tech giving her the transfusion that day told her the donor was from California.  "Oh.  You are filling me up with California sunshine!".
                    Darlene had stopped by the gift shop and bought Kim a bunch of magazines to pass the time.  Kim was cute, she'd say "Dave, quick run over to the Vans store and pick out Cody a new hat for Christmas.  And get him some socks there, too."  She started sending me to get the bambini's gifts over the next few days - she wanted me to bring them up to her room, to show them to her...to make sure that she got to see them...

                Praying with the priests kept her spirits up.  And seeing the bambini.  And all of the visitors.  And I was getting well fed by Janene (who on 11/30 brought me a humongous burger from Applebees) and on 12/1 - Andrea brought me lunch and Angie dinner.

                 Speaking of dinner, seeing as today is Thursday, and a cold and rainy Thursday, at that - we thought it appropriate to get together at Viro's for dinner.  Andrea brought all of her kids (well, we picked up David for her on our way there), Kim and Rashon and their kids came and their friend Andy joined us later.  Rosa made us a special salad with fresh tomatoes, basil, onions and artichoke hearts - the presentation of her salad was beautiful and, unfortunately, my battery had died on my cell phone (Antonio had a marathon Pocket God session on the way to dinner and during!) and we went through 15 bowls of wedding soup before I lost count!!  Bre was on hand to delicately hand craft me a cappuccino and a white chocolate latte for Andrea.  We ended it with a round of various flavored gelato (Lexy's lime was great and Kim's tirimasu was my favorite!).
              Kim and Rashon's baby girl, Maleah, sat in her carrier sleeping peacefully, even though our table was anything but quiet.  She woke up once, and went right back to sleep when Andrea held her. Such a good baby, and so beautiful.  I found this photo of Kim, back on 7/11/2003, with newly born Antonio...he was a good baby too.  We told everyone, if we had Antonio first, we probably would have had 5!!

                                   Autumn found this one of her and her Mama and wanted me to put it out there for you all to see.  "Mama had bangs?  I don't remember that." she exclaimed.  "Can I keep this one?"

                Things that keep us going...the memories...Kimmy's smile...Viro's with family on a cold, windy day...the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, complete with the peaches/pinks that Father Harry told us to look for...your ongoing encouragement...

  'The day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness'
                                                                                                                   Luke 1:78

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Lamp to my Feet and a Light to my Path

                Kimmy was certainly that light...it was amazing, how, despite each setback, she not only kept her smile, but her great sense of humor blazed through the pain and everything she was going through.

                The cancer is causing blood clots.  The clots have caused Kim's legs to swell.  I cannot describe them to you.  They were beyond big and when I helped her with her compression hose, it felt like my brain would just switch into a lower gear to better process the horror of what was happening to the girl that I loved.

              "I'm keeping everyone on the edge of their seats."  she quipped. 

               I have never seen such courage in the face of horrific adversity.

This is one of my all time favorite photos of Kimba.  It is taken in Baltimore, at the Inner Harbor.  We'd go down to visit my Dad and Stepmom, ride the light rail right down town, catch an O's game at Camden Yards and eat some crab at the Rusty Skupper overlooking the water.

This one was taken back in 1989.  We loved a 'Mexican' restaurant, called Chi-Chi's (and quickly learned the joke in that name when we moved here!) and had gotten a margarita set there.  Once we moved to Tucson, we found that Chi-Chi's not only had a funny meaning in its name, but was not very good Mexican food either!

"I'm keeping everyone on the edge of their seats..."  Seriously.  Looking back on all we were blessed to do together, I realize that Kim kept me on the edge of my seat!  It was that good...


Tuesday, November 29, 2011



Dear Emma,

What's up?! My mom has to go back to the hospital tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!Crying face smile emoticonCrying face smile emoticonSad smile emoticonSad smile emoticonCrying face smile emoticonCrying face smile emoticon I'm so sad! She has to get an operation on her legs because she has blood clots in both her legs and then she has to stay over night and then she might come home the next day but he might not! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Crying face smile emoticonCrying face smile emoticonCrying face smile emoticonCrying face smile emoticonCrying face smile emoticonCrying face smile emoticon

Your Sad very sad BFF, AutumnSad smile emoticon
          To Autumn's BFF, Emma Corbelli, a message about Kimmy returning to St. Joseph's Hospital...
          And I'm working on returning back to the past...
          And from Tonio's teacher, Apryl...more support!
Thanks so much Apryl,
Antonio had a great time with you after
school! What a nice treat!! Wednesday would be great, I believe Aut and
Casey already are doing that day too. I'll let you know about the flu
shots, that sure would be helpful...I was going to ask Lupe if CVS gave
shots to kids. I know the Walgreens out here only gives them to 18 and
older. I'll see you in the morning, Dave

> Hi Dave,
> I am so sorry to hear that Kim is having so many issues with the blood
> clots-how frustrating. I will continue to pray for some relief for her.
> I just wanted to check in with you and see what you need this week. I'm
> available for rides, dinners-anything you need. I can take Antonio again
> after school on Wednesday and Friday. Patti said that Kim needs another
> procedure tomorrow-Casey and I have leadership after school for a little
> while but we could work something out if u need us to take the kids. Also
> wanted to see if u need me to take the kids for their flu shots. I just
> got mine at Walgreens and they just billed my insurance company-it was so
> easy but I'm happy to take them to their dr. too. Whatever u need!
> Please tell Kim I'm thinking of her. See you tomorrow.
> Apryl"
            Lupe, Apryl and Casey were so incredible for us this time last year...
          To my District Manager, Tom;
"Hi Tom,
I hope your family had a great Thanksgiving! We were blessed to have Kim home with us, even though she slept most of the day. It was hard being home over such a busy weekend - I truly thought she would be stabilized enough for me to work Fri, Sat and Sun, but her body did not cooperate. Each day, she digressed, needing more oxygen and her legs swelling. Today, Dr. Taetle, her oncologist, saw her to draw blood and ordered a chest xray and ultra sound of her legs. They found large blood clots in her legs...so she will be readmitted to St. Joseph's in the morning, first receiving 2 pints of blood as she is anemic (they said she is at a '6' and a normal woman should be at a '12') and then being put on the blood thinner heparin to see if they can break up the clots. If they cannot, they will go in manually to break them up. I had to use a wheel chair to get her in to her appointments, since she could not even walk the short distance into the offices.
Jaimelyn and the team has done such a great job keeping things together and they have let me know each day how they have done. I even managed to sell 3 Nooks on Black Friday!! A friend called me at 9:30 a.m. and said he wanted to buy an ereader for his son and to tell him the differences between the brands - he went to the Broadway store and bought one that day. Autumn's teacher called around 10:30 and said she wanted to buy an ereader for her grandmother, what was the difference between Nook and Kindle? She was already at the Tucson Mall, so went to my store to make the purchase. The lady who runs the copy room at the kids school wanted to buy a Nook for her husband and I talked her into the Nook Color and she was going to the Eastside store Friday to see if they had any left - I haven't seen her this week to see if she was able to get one or order one.
Anyway, I can't thank you enough for allowing me this time with Kim!! 
Thanks again, Dave"
         Kim's legs.  Her 'logs'.  And Dr. Leon was going to be on vacation, unavailable for surgery if/when Kim needed it.  Kim saw this as a sign.  An omen.  I didn't know what to thing, but knew that her legs, the swelling, had to be helped!
        I just remember how tired she was.  Her legs, unable to support her, I'd use every ounce of strength to help her to the bathroom and ended up helping her with a bed pan...another few days without a shower...
         And Kim?  Did she complain?  A few tears, but no, she'd sooner ask how you were doing than worry about her own condition.  She was so sweet that way...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stabler Arena

                 Lehigh University...if you are at all a college basketball fan, you've heard of this school.  Nestled in the hills of South Mountain, Bethlehem, PA, it is an oasis of trees and stretching grass fields.  Where I spent many a Saturday morning, as a youth, from second grade on, playing soccer.
                When Kim and I began dating again, when we were 17, we spent a lot of time there.  Walking, kicking a soccer ball, running the cross country paths...

The above photo was long one of my favorite photos of Kimberly...she was so natural.

 Today, a million years ago, last year, Kim was readmitted to St. Joseph's.  Her legs could not go on.  She cried.  She cried the whole drive down to St. Joseph's.  She did not want to go back.  I was beyond numb, trying to be supportive.  Trying to be encouraging.  Trying to pray.  Trying not to lose my happy thought.
This was the day I parked her in the lobby of St. Joseph's.  Small and huddled she sat, far enough inside to avoid the cold wind from the opening and closing of the sliding doors of the front entrance.  I almost could not leave her to go park the car.  Fearing she'd be gone when I came back.  Just gone.
Instead, I came back to find her beaming.  Glowing.  Speaking with Monsignor Tom from Our Mother of Sorrows church.  The feeling emanating from that man that day gave me strength...I could see Kim's recovery.  It was amazing.  Kim was re-energized and ready to fight.  Gone were her tears.

Looking back, I believe that was one of the days and times she got a glimpse of Heaven....
And it gave her comfort...

“It’s not that our plans are bad, but that God’s
plans are better.”

The Rotozip

                               As the 'handyman' in our home, Kim loved tools...I'd buy her drills, Dremmels, jig saws, sanders - what ever she needed.  The rule was, I was not allowed to use power tools without supervision.  For my own good.  This worked well over the years...
                              I can't remember how many years ago it was, but it was before we moved into this house, so more than 8 years ago,  at least, Kim came to me, very excited - her big, blue eyes even larger than usual with excitement..."DAVE!  I just saw the coolest tool on T.V!!!  It was called the Roto Zip!".  She went on to explain to me, in high speed, hands gesturing, all of the things she would be able to do with the Roto Zip around our home.
                              Back then, we didn't order online and not from the T.V. (except one time, after a fun night out, around 1 or 2 a.m., we bought a greatest hits of the '70's collection after seeing a commercial...).  I figured it would be easy enough to find at the Home Depot, Ace or Lowe's and suprised Kim for Christmas. 
                            Wrong.  It was still only available on T.V.  After much scrambling, I was able to purchase it for her...

She used it often for various projects and absolutely loved it.  It cuts through wood, metal, stone.  You name it, equipped with multiple, exchangeable bits.

A couple years ago, Kim decided to rearrange Autumn's room.  She moved her dresser and T.V. that sits on top of it, to a wall in the room with no cable.  Kim improvised by stretching the cable across the doorway to the wall where the cable connection was. I got Kimmy's apology, as soon as I realized it - you may remember, this was not the first time Kim had done this, resulting in a new project to be added to our list.  As you might imagine, the cable being stretched across the floor of a little one's room led to some Dick Van Dyke or Chevy Chase type falls (I realize that I am dating myself with these comparisons!). 
               I could never get upset with Kim when she worked so hard to make a room look so special.  AND apologized for any inconvenience resulting from it!  So....I thought I'd pop a hole in Autumn's closet and put a splitter on Antonio's cable, which shared the same wall...I even bought all of the things that I needed for the project, but I never got around to doing it...You know how it goes, something else always seems to come up and since I had everything we needed to get the job done, the urgency just wasn't there. 
...until today!  Under Autumn's watchful supervision, I cut a hole using the Roto Zip, simultaneously apologizing to Kimmy and asking her to watch over me.  Closely.  That tool cut through the drywall like butter!

And it was good.  A new cable connector in Autumn's closet and no more trip hazard!!  The bambini were amazed and excited, showering me with praise and hugs.

Thank you Kimmy!



Sunday, November 27, 2011


2009...Take a look at the spread Kimmy would put on our table each year!!  Turkey, ciabatta stuffing, pumpkin roll, cranberry bread, yams, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy...and something green (no, I did not have anything green this year!).

This one is from last year, 2010.  Kimmy was distressed that she would not be able to cook this year.  She joked "I may blow myself up!", due to her oxygen.  Our neighbors, Betsey and Brian and Amy and Tom put together a wonderful feast at Betsey and Brian's, with Betsey's mom and dad and Kim's mom and step dad...It started out so well.  They even had battery operated candles, so Kim would not explode.  But, we had a scary end as it took three of us to walk Kim home and get her safely back in her red chair, turning her oxygen way up...and wondering why her legs were getting so darned big 'my logs' she'd call them instead of legs.  Initially, I couldn't write after finding this and thinking back to last Thanksgiving...going through the weekend numb...

                                           I found some more photos from happier Thanksgivings;

                                           Here's our little Indian princess in kindergarten (2005).  Ami and Mary have done a neat play every year about the pilgrims and the Indians.  It is so cute!  Autumn had Mary that year for a teacher.

Here's a shot from our very first Thanksgiving here in Tucson - November 1994, in our new home!  Kimba with Cajun.  And even though it was just the two of us, she made all of the same dishes that I mentioned above!  The only difference?  Wine.  And, now I know that I am horribly bias, but, doesn't Kim look absolutely stunning??

Here's a picture of Thanksgiving 1997.  Cody would have been 7 months old.  Kim wanted to make Cody something special...so, she cooked him his own Cornish hen.

He sure liked chewing on that leg!

This is Cody in Kindergarten (2002).  He got to be a pilgrim in the play that year.  Ami was his teacher.

That's all that I could find...We had spent several at our old neighbor's, Courtney and Shawn, which we especially looked forward to because Shawn is a gourmet chef and Courtney works in catering - so the food was always fantastic! And a couple with old neighbor's, Shannon and David. One year, 2008, I believe, we went to Sedona with Brian and Betsey to her mom and dad's, Ursula and Sam - that was a fun time!

This year, we teamed up to make Mama's ciabatta/pancetta stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin roll, potatoes and a turkey.  The bambini wanted vanilla Italian sodas in fancy glasses.  So we did that too.  They worked so hard, helping to prep and cook, as if they needed wanted to impress their Mama.

                                                                Tonio's a leg man...

Autumn's a leg woman...

Cody has taken the whole bowl of ciabatta bread stuffing for himself!

                                             Bella joined us at the table too...

We started the festivities Wednesday night, when Rose and Vito cooked a turkey dinner for us and the bambini, and Lexy and Breanna...Mario and I pretty much ate the kids left overs.  Cody had mozzarella sticks and fried zucchini and eggplant.  Andrea got to have vegetable ravioli's.

Over the weekend, we took the kids to see Happy Feet 2.  I think Cody, Autumn, Bryson and Kason had as much fun with Alvin and the Chipmunks as they did seeing the movie.  Janene and Angie enjoyed the show!

We rounded out the weekend by going to church with Angie (Brendon spent the night, we let him and Cody sleep in, but picked them up after church) and then going to Viro's with Angie, Kim, Roshan, David, Brendon, Mariah, Micah, Maleah, Cody, Autumn and Antonio (I warned the cook, Dave, as we entered this morning to make more wedding soup!).

We are thankful for all of the friends and family who continue to reach out to us and provide us with awesome support. When we went outside tonight, to light our candles, the bambini gave thanks for their Mama and everything she did for them.
 Thank you,


PS On to Christmas...today, Brendon and Cody put our tree up (under the star Andrea hung from the ceiling for us last year!) and they hung the lights from the eaves too!!