Over the past almost 5 years I spent a good deal of time with Kathy, my sister in law, mostly on the phone. I’d give her a call after work about 6 or 6:30 most weekdays with the mission I’d be a bright spot in her day and to help my brother out who works second shift at Boeing. She was always glad I called and curious about my day and wanted a full accounting. We shared a passion for learning and teaching.
We talked about all kinds of stuff... the past, the present, the future. I pushed her about blogging and she was coming around to my way of thinking until her last round of battles this past year. I encouraged her to tell her story. It needs to be told! She always said that after she was well and back in action she wanted to do something that would be of help to people and families that were going through what she had.
Kathy was diagnosed with cancer back in May 2009 and since then she and my brother Terry have been on an unrelenting roller coaster of nightmares. Two brain surgeries, a kidney removed, two spinal surgeries to remove tumors, the CyberKnife, chemo and all the while in and out of extended stays at recovery centers.
Yet through all of this, Kathy was a warrior and a fighter, determined to fight the good fight and win. I’ve never known two more brave soldiers that were knocked down so many times and picked themselves back up to face another day.
As often as possible I’d spend a day on the weekend to be with them. I felt mostly helpless but figured what I could be was a compassionate listener, a bit of entertainment, a reprieve and creative diversion, and make dinner.
Kathy had a dream about having a gluten free bakery with a small cafe. Lord knows why, but she wanted me to be the chef. She told me often how much she enjoyed my cooking and how I should write a cookbook, do a cooking show, and start a restaurant. I’d usually reply, “Sister, this is bachelor cooking, it ain’t no gourmet fare." We'd have a good laugh.
I’ll never forget one day back in 2012 around Christmas time, I really thought she was going to beat this damned cancer thing. Weary of the drudgery my brother asked me for some help. He really wanted to do something special for her for Christmas so we kidnapped her from the care facility, wheeled her out to my Explorer and went to see the Fantasy Lights in Spanaway Park.
It’s an amazing holiday light show throughout the park that you drive through and she really enjoyed it. I brought several CD’s so we’d have plenty of music for our outing and while we were in the park we turned the radio to FM 93.7 because they played Christmas music just for the occasion. Kathy loved everything Christmas!
Afterwards we went to the Homestead Restaurant in south Tacoma for some prime rib dinners with all the fixings. It was a good day and a wonderful time.
Kathy was a brave peaceful warrior...
Our last visit, Sunday, March 9th, Kathy was very tired and drifting in and out. She wasn’t present as usual and I sensed it somehow, bless her soul, she had finally laid down her sword. No more battles...
On Tuesday, March 11th, I was on my way between appointments when the phone rang and I saw it was my brother. My heart sank, I just knew it wasn’t going to be good news.
Today I’m compelled to speak out and to celebrate a life. I want to remember the Kathy I’ve known since the 80’s, full of life, compassion, and curiosity.
So rest now my friend and sister... rest in eternal peace and know you were loved by many. You were always a beacon of light and love and touched so many lives. You go before us here today, so say hello and give our love to those you join above. I know they’ll greet you with open arms.
I see you now without pain or burden, finally free and home.
Kathleen Betenson Fabre, September 26, 1948 - March 11, 2014.
January 16, 2013... Kathy and Terry, a love story and more.