Lori Ede and Kelly Kearney were long time friends of Kim. They knew her for more than forty years. This is the eulogy they read at Kim’s funeral.
Kimmy was our best friend. We all felt that way about her but that word, “best”, didn’t imply exclusivity in the high school BFF way. To her many friends it meant that she was simply one of the very best people we knew. She was Daniel’s best friend and passion in the exclusive sense and she was a lucky girl to have a man love her enough to express it in the simple every day ways along with his grander gestures. She appreciated his gourmet cooking, their world travels and his gifted writing. Thank you for giving our best friend the world (both literally and figuratively) and combining your mutual remarkable strength to continue a beautiful life despite losing Elena. You, Maggie and Elena were her world and her happiness was evident.
There was an ease that came with Kim’s friendship over the years because there were never any expectations other than we would have a great time together, whether it would be weeks or months between visits or phone calls. We could pick up wherever we left off and the same closeness and love could be felt. That’s because she was a great listener and she had taken the time to really know us, good and bad without judging. At least she never let on… Dan would probably know. She could also be brutally honest and would let you know what she really thought whether it was about your latest relationship or your outfit and that was a good thing because she was usually right.
At Regina High Kim was a good sport and took the razzing about her height and the subsequent nickname of “Squatty” in stride. She never complained about her unstable knee injury. One year she had to get around for weeks on crutches and the good sisters let her have use of the emergency wheelchair which we took turns pushing her around in. She wasn’t even that mad when we stuck her in the elevator and pushed the button for the convent floor. Then there was the steep ramp leading to the cafeteria; it was good fun to let her loose in the chair at the top of the ramp. She always did know how to take a joke.
She was never ashamed to admit to her teen crushes on everyone from Donny Osmond to Browns QB, Brian Sipe. As she decorated Christmas cookies annually with Kelly and her sisters, she took great pleasure in frosting all of the gingerbread boys with the number 17 until Mrs. Collins gently chided “Kim, I think there are enough quarterbacks.”
She was so caring and sensitive, especially to those with disabilities. During our John Carroll years she was the one who always helped our friend Mike who was wheelchair bound. Before that she formed a deep bond with Lena’s parents who were both deaf, sparking her interest in ASL and speech therapy. Lena noted that Kim gave excellent advice to her daughter Jenny about perseverance in school since Kim had to work hard for her grades and took her time achieving scholastic goals one at a time.
That first spring break in Fort Lauderdale was legendary even though we got homesick on Easter Sunday and made a poor attempt at homemade sauce and meatballs in our efficiency at the Bahama Hotel. We were good girls after all and loved our families. Kim’s family is one of the best, Tom and Gerri are generous and loving and always made us feel welcome and Tommy and Carolyn are remarkable. They obviously worshipped their older sister since she had her way…most of the time. Grandpa Egelio and Grandma Annie DePaul were revered as well as aunts and uncles: Peter and Mary Kay, Richard and Meg, Mary Jo and Wade along with all the DePaul and Najim cousins we got to know over time.
Our parents all loved Kim and thought of her as another daughter. She was great with older people since she had the Irish gift of gab. She could always tease a chuckle out of Lori’s parents even if we weren’t leaving for the disco or Gandalf’s till after 10:00 PM. Lena recalled Kim generously offering to pick her up at the airport after a flight on the redeye. She was nervous when she didn’t see her after landing. Moments later there was Kim, exiting the airport bar with Lena’s own elderly Grandpa. Kim had picked him up in Murray Hill since he had nothing better to do and they had both shared a couple of shots at 7:30 AM while waiting.
Children adored Kim, probably because she was so small and never took herself too seriously. As we married one by one and started families while she pursued full time employment and graduate studies at Case some of us presumed upon her for babysitting and she generously complied. She was so accepting of all of our spouses and children and they in turn loved her. Kim loved spending time with neighbors Denise and Doug and their kids Michael Douglas and Phillip and bragged about those boys as though they were her own.
She was picky about men and detested “the fix up” since she was waiting for a man of quality and intellect like Daniel. The wait was worthwhile since Daniel is her true soul mate. During this time Kim was so busy and enamored of Daniel and their world of academe at Case that we house frau’s were instructed to listen to his smooth voice on the Wave Cool Jazz radio station. Brains AND a sexy voice indeed! We were intrigued although most of us didn’t get to meet him until after the engagement.
All of you know the rest: their career trials until each found their successful niche, their choice to begin their family with beautiful, brilliant Maggie Rose and the subsequent birth of delightful Elena. Kim was enchanted with her children and truly loved motherhood. A few weeks ago when we got together on a beautiful day that we will forever be grateful for, Kim recounted a story which you may recall Maggie. It was a perfect summer day when you and Elena were small and the house was a complete disaster. Your mother was feeling overwhelmed and she came downstairs and skidded across the toy strewn floor on Barbie clothes and tiny accessories. She lost it and hollered at you both to get it picked up until you two were visibly shaken. She felt so bad seeing your hurt expressions that she said “Get upstairs and put your bathing suits on, we’re going to the pool!” From then on she never put housework before either of you and she never regretted it. It was one thing that consoled her when Elena died. Your mother always knew what was important…you.
Ira, Priscilla, Ethan and Jill Steinberg… Kim loved you as her own and expressed how happy she was to have you all together recently. Maggie your Dad was so wise to base his career in Cleveland, keeping you close with both sets of Grandparents and extended family and friends… Everyone here will be here for you both.
As our friend Megan noted after we compared recent pictures of Kim with those from the past and how little she had changed physically over the years remaining eternally youthful: “I’m just glad we have those last pictures of us all together and seeing how happy she was about her travels with Daniel and how proud she was of Maggie. I’m going to be a better friend because of her memory.”
Kim has given the gift of life to a number of new friends upon her passing by way of organ donation. Even in death her generosity was boundless. The grief is so profound but it helps us to think that she is reunited with her beloved Elena. Until we catch up with each other again, rest peacefully dear friend. The following old Irish saying is meaningful even though a loss such as this seems nearly impossible to express in a cliché, but here goes, short and sweet: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”