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Friday, June 11, 2010

"Kay Passed Away at 7 this Morning . . ."

"Kay passed away at 7 this morning . . ."

That's the message I got from Scott, my eldest son, who called me, in tears, at about noon today.

The Kay he was referring to was Kay Calland, one of the most beautiful, most caring, most loving women I have ever known.

I knew she was under hospice care but, even so, it came as a shock.

I asked Scott how mom was doing. "She's a basket case," he wept.

"I'll be right over," I said.

In 10 minutes I was at the home of my ex-wife, Mary. She and Scott and I held each other and had a good cry. We were all hurting . . . all feeling the same sense of loss at Kay's passing.

Even after our divorce, Kay and Mary had remained good friends, talking on the phone daily. Kay would often call me as well . . . and she always sent a birthday card a day or two before my birthday. Mary would keep me posted on Kay's condition . . . for Mary and I had also remained very close friends, in spite of the divorce.

The three of us all had a good cry . . . and a few laughs, and then we'd cry some more. We remembered the happy times with Kay . . . how she could cheer each of us up so easily. We recalled how she never spoke ill of anyone. Not one single soul did I ever hear Kay speak badly about.

I was privileged to have had Kay as my secretary when I managed KOWN Radio in Escondido, California from 1970-1977.

Kay was that rare breed of person who always thought positive, always spoke positive, was always bright, bubbly, always smiling . . . and never complained. She should have had her own Public Relations Agency, she was that good at making people feel great.

On those rare occasions when I would come into the office with my Mr. Grumpy Face on . . . perhaps I had a squabble with my wife that morning . . . perhaps someone cut me off at an intersection . . or for whatever reason, if I was in a bad mood, Kay would fix that right quick. She'd have a cup of coffee on my desk, and chat with me. Within five minutes everything was all better and she had me smiling, if not laughing.

After I left KOWN, Kay and stayed in touch. Ours was much more than an employer/employee relationship. She was my friend. My dear friend. We were pals. Close pals.

Kay developed severe rheumatoid arthritis and it got progressively worse over the years. More and more pain, more and more her body became contorted. In all the years she suffered from this painful malady I never heard her complain. Not once.

For the past year she was on a morphine drip. She didn't make a big deal about it. It was simply a medical procedure. When I'd ask her how she was feeling she'd say . . . "I'm doing just fine. I have some good days and some bad days, but today's a good day." She would say that, of course, even if she was having a bad day.

Because I knew how much pain she was in I didn't call her as often as I would like to have. I didn't want to be a burden to her . . . calling her on one of her bad days . . . and I knew she would never tell me if she was having a bad day.

Her loving and caring husband, Gary, took care of Kay all those years. Sometimes, Mary would come over and spend a couple of days with Kay so Gary could get a break and get away from being the constant caregiver. There is an immense amount of pressure on a caregiver, often more than that of the patient. And Gary never once complained. Kay was his wife and he was going to take care of her and that was that. And he did. Magnificently.

So, there are a lot of us that knew and loved Kay who are a bit down in the dumps now. Of course we are all relieved that Kay no longer has to suffer the tormenting pain she endured - but still, we know we had someone very precious in our lives, that each of us is richer for it . . . and we also know she's no longer with us.

That's what hurts.

"Kay passed away at 7 this morning . . ."

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