I’ve been friends with Kevin since my freshman year of college. He came to visit this past weekend so that I wouldn’t spend Kim’s birthday alone. He got married, then I got married. He and Lisa and Kim and I got along so well. They were so easy to spend time with. He had kids, then we had kids. Our families took vacations together. When I was thinking of people who might want to say something at the funeral, Maggie suggested Kevin. Here are his remarks.
Hello. I’m Kevin Walton and I have known Dan since freshman year in college. My first memory of Kim was before I met her or even knew her name. It happened the weekend that Lisa and I were married, in Ann Arbor. It was the usual thing: family and friends. Dan was there, of course, but it was a long weekend, and he had to finally start back to Cleveland. Then, a very unusual thing happened. Attempting nonchalance, Dan asked if he could take a bunch of flowers with him. I can’t specifically recall if he said it was to give to someone, but that was clearly the intention. So, with equal nonchalance, Lisa and I said, sure, of course, take them. But after he turned his back, that was when the knowing looks were passed around. No one could recall Dan going to that kind of public effort for a girl. Once that happened, there seemed to be no turning back.
Kim was a wonderful person, a perfect foil for Dan, a terrific mother to Maggie and Elena. Our family went on vacation with them several times, and Kim taught us about salami and cheese roll-ups, and the fun of frozen grapes.
She was friendly, and supportive, and caring. She was great about trying to give advice about something that she had a very strong opinion on but didn’t want to appear overbearing. So she tried to give it with a kind of take it or leave it feel. But I don’t believe she ever succeeded in fooling anyone about what she really thought of the way you were doing it.
There are many things that I will be sad about not having the chance to experience again. I loved her voice. It had a kind of gravelly quality that I really enjoyed. And she would stretch out words. Her “yeah” always had at least a couple of syllables in it.
Even though we had only spent time with Kim, Dan and their family about once a year, twice in a good year, it was always like we had just seen them, continuing a conversation we had just left off. It is hard to remember back, but I think Lisa and I felt immediately comfortable with Kim. And that is the right word, comfortable. It might not sound like a lot, but someone whose presence just makes you relax is a wonderful gift.
If Lisa and I had the option to pick our family members, Kim would have been at the top of that list. Of course, Dan had that option, and my family and I always felt we got lucky that Kim took him up on it.
But, maybe we all get some latitude in choosing who we get to call family. So, to Maggie and Dan, I hope you will always feel that our family is your family, because I know that you are ours.