My niece contacted me the night before the memorial and said Ken, my brother-in-law wanted us to get there early so we did. It was good to be able to give him a hug.
My sister Deb was already there helping to set up tables and chairs and get food ready. I immediately began helping her and everyone pitched in where they could. We talked with Ken's sisters, I hadn't seen them in years. And his aunt, she was hosting it at her house. She's got to be close to 90 but was still spry as ever: in and out the back door, directing people where to put things, I think she has more energy than I do!
More and more people started arriving. Honestly I was surprised at how many people showed up. It had been 3 months since she passed away, I figured it would mainly be family but there were people there from their motorcycle group, friends they met when they spent time at the desert when the kids were little... there were probably 50-60 people there. I was glad they came out to support Ken. I know it meant a lot to him.
I walked around taking pictures and with each new group of people I'd hear him telling the story of how she died. Time after time he'd be tearing up as he told how he heard her come out of the bathroom but she didn't answer when he called to her. By the time he got to the bedroom, she was unresponsive. I think talking about it was therapeutic for him. Like if he said it enough times he might convince himself.
My niece Karlene came up to me part way through and said she wondered if we should have people share stories. I suggested we go around to each group and let them know we'd be 'saying a few words' in a few minutes and they would have a chance to share if they wanted to.
Ken, my niece, Deb and I all stood in a central area of the backyard and I introduced myself and thanked everyone for coming, and shared a memory of my own. Of Kathy and I going out to Ocean Beach one day, having lunch at the little cafe on the pier and walking along the rocks by the shore.
A lot of people shared stories, some laughed, some cried. My sister was well loved.
After that people began to leave and we took family pictures by her motorcycle and her ashes. It was a hard day, but it was good.
That's Ken in the white beard
Ken and Karlene
Me, Ken, Deb
Ken, Karlene and Karlene's kids.
And Ken and Kathy's dog Penny. Her and Ken have been inseparable.