I have three first cousins. Kim had more than fifty.
Her family had three kids: Kim, her brother Tommy, and her sister Carolyn.
On her mother’s side, her mom’s siblings had 4, 5, and 6 kids. Fifteen first cousins on her mom’s side.
Her father was one of nine children. Except for her dad, the siblings all had at least five kids.
I think the total of first cousins on both sides is 55.
When we first got married, I had to get used to running into one of Kim’s relatives wherever I went in Cleveland.
Sunday night I stopped by Kim’s uncle Peter and aunt Mary Kay’s house.
We traded stories.
Kim was only nine years younger than Peter. She remembered going to watch him play baseball when he was in high school. She remembered going with Peter and Mary Kay when they first dated. They’d go to Blossom and she’d sit on the blanket on the lawn in front of Peter and Mary Kay. She’d always say, Peter told her “don’t turn around.”
At the funeral, their eldest daughter Annie said that Kim was 24 when she was born.
It explained a lot. To me Kim’s relationship with them felt more like an aunt than a cousin. Kim had stories of babysitting for Annie’s older brother Mark. Julie, the youngest, was one when Kim and I got married. When Kim’s mom watched Maggie, Julie was often there.
Those kids were Kim’s first cousins but they felt more like Maggie’s first cousins.
Just before I left Sunday night Peter said that Kim was like a bridge between the generations. She had a strong relationship with Peter and Mary Kay and she also had a strong relationship with each one of their children – not because they were their children but because she loved spending time with them.
Kim bridged the generations by being firmly rooted in each.
Last week I asked for stories.
Her cousin on her dad’s side, Joe, came up to me at the gathering after the funeral on Friday and told me one from one Kim was a little girl.
Kim loved coming to their place and riding horses but she didn’t like holding the reigns. Joey remembered leading her horse around by the reigns so that Kim could ride it.
Joe got a horrible call the night of Kim’s accident. My Kim is Kimberli Diemert, his wife is Kimberly Diemert. Not spelled the same but so easy a mistake to make.
Joe gave me the gift of a second story by posting on this blog. He wrote about playing duck duck goose with Kim and the other cousins and helping her escape remaining the goose for too long.
But Kim was a bridge between generations.
She was also close with Joe’s daughter Bridget.
I worked with Bridget on math a bit when she was at John Carroll. Kim just loved Bridget. We didn’t see her much but it was like no time had passed whenever we did.
Sometimes I would bring Maggie with me. Kim and Maggie and I went to the Art museum courtyard to watch Bridget’s boyfriend (or were they married by then) play a small outdoor concert. We bumped into the family when we stopped to get bread just across from the school where Bridget taught.
A foot in each generation on her mom’s side and her dad’s side.
It’s not that the sides were separated and needed to be joined. But both sides met in Kim’s heart.