On 22 Oct 2012 we lost a beloved daughter, sister, mother, wife, aunt, cousin. This is the eulogy that was read at the 3 Nov 2012 memorial service held for her in Coffeyville, KS at the Emmanuel Southern Baptist Church:
EULOGY FOR KAY
The world was a different place in 1939. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the president, La Guardia airport opened for business in New York City, the first woman was elected dean of a US graduate school, John Steinbeck’s novel, “The Grapes of Wrath” was published and the “Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With The Wind” premiered. And something else happened. Every now and then God decides to add a little something extra special to the family of humanity and wraps it up in a bundle that we know as a little girl. This little girl was called Barbara Kay and on October 29th of that year, to her mother Lottie Mae’s delight, she was born in a place we know as Walnut Grove, Missouri.
And then in 1946 there was another momentous event that would change Kay’s life, she met her beloved Daddy, Ernest Ray Hayes. During the next several years Ernie and Lottie Mae, with Kay and sisters Blanche and Kathryn, aka Cricket, enjoyed life in Missouri as any family of modest means did. During this time, a fourth sister, Lexie, was born. In August of 1951 the family moved to Coffeyville, Ks and 5 years later the youngest sister, Debby was born.
My sister Kay had many interests: cooking, knitting and a great love of books and could often be found reading. Blanche told me how Kay would make her and Cricket go outside to play while she “mopped the floor”. Being the obedient girls that they were, Blanche and Cricket would go out to play and Kay would then lock the doors so they couldn’t get back in. Kay always told them it was because she didn’t want them walking on the floors until they were dry. After a while Blanche and Cricket would get thirsty and they’d knock on the door for Kay to let them in. But Kay would tell them the floors weren’t dry and they couldn’t come in yet. Blanche said though that when she and Cricket looked through the window, Kay was always sitting down reading a book. After two or three hours she and Cricket would be banging on the door because they had to go to the bathroom. Blanche said they would have to beg to get in before Kay would unlock the door. She adds that they never did wet their pants but they sure came close to it a few times! Now let’s think about this for a moment…. just imagine Blanche and Cricket going to Mom and whining about how Kay locked them out of the house. Then Mom asking them why Kay locked the doors and having to tell her, “Well she said she was mopping the floors”……, pretty hard to justify your complaint, huh? Yes, Kay had a great love for reading! Did I also mention she was very clever? Blanche also said about Kay, “She opened up new worlds for everyone. She is, and always will be, right by my side.”
Lexie was telling me that when she was about 3 years old, Kay, Blanche and Cricket were swinging in the porch swing. Lexie wanted to get up there and swing with them but Kay wouldn’t let her in the swing; therefore, none of the 3 was going to let her in. Lexie tried to climb up into the porch swing anyway, despite Kay telling her no. Lexie got a good whack from the swing for her efforts and ended up with a black eye! But Lexie also said that Kay was the one that taught her all those things that little girls need to know – how to dress herself and tie her shoes and to read.
When I was in grade school I had just finished reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott for the first time. It was Thanksgiving Day and Kay called Mom and then spoke to me. She wanted to know what book I was reading and I told her that I had just finished “Little Women”. She asked if I had liked it and I said “Yes, very much.” At Christmas I opened my present from her and it was “Eight Cousins” by the same author. Kay had taken the time to talk to a much younger sister.
Kay and her husband Ed enjoyed a blessed relationship. Shortly after she passed, Ed wrote to Kay….”It seems that you always went out of your way to please me, sometimes to the point of being stubborn. I never knew you to think about yourself first at any time in our life. Just wanted you to know that I am a little upset that you started this adventure without me. You seem to have forgotten that I’m the one who always went first. Just saying. But I will catch up. We were always so good together. If we ever had a serious disagreement, I cannot seem to remember it. You were always so beautiful to me, your looks, actions, thoughts, concern for others, adventurous spirit.”
Kay’s oldest son, Keivan wrote Lexie, “She taught me how to cook and my love for cuisine and cooking my entire life. This is a huge personal priority for me. Travel, cooking, and enjoying a fantastic cup of coffee in any espresso form, all connect me to her and always have. Now I don’t have to text her, I’ll just whisper to her.”
Kay was more than a daughter, more than a wife, more than a mother, more than a sister, more than a relative, more than a friend. She was more than a strong woman who said what she meant and meant what she said. She was Barbara Kay, an individual, unique. Kay was the kind of woman who did what she said she was going to do. Once she made up her mind on something, you could be pretty sure that it was going to get done. When difficult times enter into our lives, we always have the opportunity to choose to become bitter or better. Kay strove to become better. She knew you only get one shot at life, so do your very best with it. As the ones left behind, there are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.
I’d like to read a passage for you from “The Little Prince:”
“All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For many, they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. But all these stars are silent. You, you alone will have stars as no one else has them. In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (for time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure. It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh”
You can shed tears that Kay is gone. It’s okay because our tears comfort us. But please also smile because she lived. You can close your eyes and mourn. But then open your eyes and see all that Kay left us. Be aware that a word someone may say will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day that brings her back as clearly as though she were still here. And when you look up into the night sky and see the stars, please blow a kiss and a blessing that way and smile, knowing that Kay is there.
~Written and read by Kay’s sister, Debra Hayes Brodbeck~