Lessons from Ken

Ken died one evening in August as Hurricane Isaac grew strength in Florida.

During the day, grandchildren Brad and Mason kayaked in the floods that overcame Wellington.  Hospice caregivers and delivery of supplies and medications were ineffective against nature.  His wife and family, mounting a much stronger defense against the storm, were at his side as he whispered his last words.

Death was anticipated for months, if not years, as vicious head and neck cancer ravaged a body vulnerable due to chronic leukemia.  Ken and his wife battled the effects of disease and the courses of  treatment.  Carol’s nursing license served them well.  Their belief in God, family, friends, and their commitment to each other were their shield against devastating illness.

Kindness was the attribute we always associated with my husband’s brother.  The twin that survived, the youngest in a merged family of three adolescents, ready with a smile, strumming his guitar, eager to be a friend, to do anything for anyone…that was Ken.  He was ten when my husband was born.  After a brief marriage ending in divorce, Ken spent years seeking a meaningful relationship, at last finding love with Carol.  As they moved from Long Beach, NY to Virginia and finally Florida (in part to better manage chronic symptoms), they always found friends and community.

Ken’s strategy was LOVE.

The Celebration of Life portrayed a reverent soul, whose emotional depth and impact on his family and community was stunning.

Amazing…  the quote chosen for eulogy by both son and best friend was the same one: by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“to laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

Ken’s fierceness surprised us.  We’re unsure if  he reserved this powerful side in our presence or we were simply unaware of his essence.

Be more. Give more. Love more.  That’s Ken.

Miss you, Ken.

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