The Public Image of Old People
At Eternity's Gate

A TGB READER STORY: Remembering Kathy

By Kathleen Morse Noble

I met Kathy at a Scrabble Club in Phoenix with a bunch of other nerdy word nuts. After talking with her and playing a few games, I knew we would be friends.

Kathy was feisty and super smart and – like me - had an informed opinion about EVERYTHING. Like me, she really liked to be right! Can you see where this is going?

We were very competitive playing Scrabble in person but particularly online. I looked at our stats yesterday and she beat me 3 times out of every four and we played 379 games. She didn’t cheat, either.

Kathy felt very comfortable making comments on my friends' Facebook pages. Sometimes her comments started what seemed to be the equivalent of a Facebook cat fight, often with my conservative relatives and childhood friends!

I usually agreed with what Kathy said, but tact was not her strong suit and I have too few relatives left on earth to afford to lose them so sometimes I asked her nicely to back off. She did.

Kathy was also a fabulous storyteller. One of the funniest involved a certain future son-in-law who sleepwalked when Kathy was visiting her daughter and who came out and lay down next to her on the sofa where she was sleeping, thus trapping her.

She was so tiny, he apparently didn’t notice her behind him. She had to call for help!

In addition to being feisty and funny, Kathy was truly a woman of faith. She loved to go to the Franciscan retreat center, especially after she got colon cancer. She didn’t talk very much about her faith but she lived it.

She valued generosity, and loved nature, goodness and justice. She did not put on any airs - what you see is what you got from Kathy.

We loved to go out for movies, especially after she got sick as it was one thing that she could do easily. Her stomach would growl so loudly in the movie theater and I know she hated it, but I laughed!

Even after she lost so much weight, she always looked gorgeous and dressed so colorfully and I totally was jealous of all her earrings, as I love them too.

I had colon cancer in 1998 when I was only 52. Because I had been through surgery and chemo, Kathy and I could talk about our experiences and all the tough side effects, sometimes even over lunch. I tried to help her find ways to be more comfortable, but her cancer had spread and just got worse.

I talked to her when she was in the hospital and she told me a lovely story about a young doctor who came in, sat down so she could see his face and chatted with her about living in St. Louis, where he also had lived. She told me that it was so nice to have him see her as a real person and not just a patient. I don’t know this doctor’s name, but I am so grateful to him.

Kathy loved her daughters and especially her granddaughter so very much. Her face would just light up when she told me about funny things that little Teegan said nearly every time we talked.

Her cat, Sunny, also was a huge source of comfort and entertainment for her, and me, too, when I visited her. I was startled to walk into her tiny kitchen after she moved in and suddenly see the cabinet open up and Sunny sauntering out!

The last time I saw Kathy was the day before she died. I drove to the nursing home and brought a card that had 3-D hummingbirds on it and that I thought she would love. I held her hand and she got upset with me when I asked her if she remembered that my husband, Dave, also had cancer (“Of course I do!”)

The nurse came in with her pain meds and she told her that she didn’t want them because she wasn’t in any pain. We held hands and said that we loved each other. She had wanted to return to her own little house but it was too late, she didn’t have enough time. We said goodbye and she said I could come back again. I didn’t get a chance.

Facebook has a way of gobsmacking me every so often with an old photo or message about Kathy. “You haven’t played Scrabble with Kathy for a while…” “You and Kathy became Facebook friends…”

This photo is of Kathy with her daughter and granddaughter. She died soon after:



What a beautiful tribute to your friend. She sounds like an amazing person. It was a pleasure to read this.

How lucky for both of you - two wonderful women sharing a great friendship. You made her proud.

Her earrings are beautiful! Loved this story of friendship....

Thank you for sharing this touching story of friendship . Your pain and loss is overshadowed by your gratitude. The picture of Kathy and her daughter and granddaughter was a beautiful "photo finish."

Great memories of a strong friendship.

Beautiful tribute to a beautiful friend! My condolences to you and her other loved ones.

Thank you, TGB readers, for listening to my story about Kathy. And thanks, Ronnie, for publishing it. Dave and I were driving up to Sedona AZ for our 10th wedding anniversary and decided to drive “over the mountain” through Jerome, when I saw that it had been published. Her daughters will be so pleased to see her remembered in this way. It was an honor to know Kathy!

Such a lovely , loving tribute to your friend. You were both , indeed, fortunate to have found each other and shared this amazing close friendship . I am so sorry for your loss. I know Kathy lives on in your heart and un your memories.

I enjoyed reading your tribute to your friend. It brought tears to my eyes as my mother died of colon cancer back in 2006. It still feels like yesterday but loved ones live in one's heart when they leave this earth and when looking for blessings, that is the big one!

Sad but lovely story. I hope someone gave Sunny, her kitty, a good home. We've made care arrangements for our 2 senior cats (14 and 18) should we die or become disabled, but they would be so lost and unhappy in a shelter--even a good one like the one we chose.

A touching tribute to you and your friend. Love her earrings!

Thank you for sharing this. As Elizabeth said, sad but lovely.

What a warm and touching remembrance of your friend. This photo of your friend, her daughter and granddaughter is lovely. What a surprise it must have been to see it turn up on a Facebook site. Sometimes the universe seems to send us sweet little gifts when we least expect them. Thanks for sharing this.

What a heart beating story.

Your descriptions brought tears to my eyes.

Keep writing.

Hugs from Montreal.

Kathleen - Thank you for writing about my mother. She would be touched to know you'd taken the time to do something so nice. You were very special to her and it meant the world to me that she had you to lean on.

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