Sunday, July 24, 2011

Simply Stellar

Mom and Dad had six kids.  Well, technically speaking Mom did all of the "having" although they each contributed to the raising.  The Kenny sextet is - as a practical matter - two trios.  Bill, Evan and Kelly comprise the first.  Kara, Jill and a humble little fella I like to call me make up the members of the second.  There is a gap of four years between Kelly (#3) and Kara (#4).  If nothing else, it meant that as a practical matter the three oldest were raised together and - after Mom and Dad sat out one complete election cycle - the three youngest were as well.  

Aging/grouping resulted in Kara, Jill and I spending most of our educational lives going to school with at least one of the other of our trio on the premises with us.  There was a time prior to starting at W-H in the Fall of 1977 that all three of us attended school at the same physical location:  first at St. Paul's in Princeton and then for two years at Immaculate Conception in Somerville where apropos of nothing I never once actually witnessed a pregnant bald nun running down the hall pleading a damn thing.  Once we made the move to W-H, Kara and Jill spent just about all of their time together on the Inman Avenue campus.  I only moved over there in 8th grade - when Kara was a Senior.  That was 1981.

1981.  The year that everything changed.  The year Dad died.  I know that I spent a lot of time wallowing in self-pity bemoaning the fact that he died prior to me actually completing grammar school.  For Kara the blow must have been even harder.  Dad died about a week before her high school graduation.  And he died about ninety days before she was scheduled to pack up and head to Belmont, California for her freshman year at the College of Notre Dame (what is it with my sisters and schools named Notre Dame?).  She was off on the first great adventure of her life - an adventure set to unfurl 3000 miles from home - and suddenly the support system upon which she had relied for the first eighteen years of her life had been punched hard in the solar plexus.  Not an ideal situation.

I know not whether the thought ever occurred to her to not go West.  I have never asked.  I know that she did as she had planned.  She went West to California, attended and four years later graduated with Honors from a college that was a stone's throw away from San Francisco.  Life's winds blew her back East after college and she has remained on this - the better - coast since.  Along the way, she has married.  Russ and she have three sons - the middle one of whom shall commence his very own great life adventure as he heads off to his freshman year in college. 

When the three of us were school-age, Jill and I used to have a lot of good-natured fun at Kara's expense.  We used to marvel about the fact that while Jill and I were very much kindred spirits in terms of life view/personality, Kara was a far gentler, kinder soul.  Thirty years after his death, I remain very much my father's son:  able to move in/out of most social interactions without incident, happiest when the world is at least an arm's length away, constantly on the watch for the darker side of human nature and willing to respond to the mere suggestion of its presence with bad intentions at a moment's notice.  These gifts were passed down paternally.  Jill shared the inheritance. 

Not Kara.  Even as a girl, she had the willingness and the ability to sift through the dreck that occupies a portion of the soul of each of us to find some kernel of value in everyone and everything.  Me?  I spent a sizable portion of my youth waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Kara?  She simply learned to hop.  It is an incredible gift.  She is no pushover my sister.  Never has been.  She recognizes the presence of monsters and malevolence in the world as readily as I do.  She simply refuses to allow its existence to undermine her faith in the overall quality of the operation.  She finds good where I cannot be bothered to even look.  She may in fact be the best evidence of Mom's good works among us. 

Today, my one-time San Francisco-living (well in the general proximity) sister celebrates her forty-ninth birthday.  (San Francisco?  Forty-Niner?  I sense a naming opportunity here).  I hope she has the happiest and most wonderful of birthdays.  If there is a person on this Earth more deserving of such a hope, I have yet to meet him. 

Happy Birthday Stel.  Much love.

-AK

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