Tag Archives: Kathy Anne

She had astonishing intuition

I have struggled with whether I want to share this blog post with you, but I have concluded that I need to offer a tribute to my late wife’s astonishing intuitive power.

With that, I’ll start at the end and work my way through it. I believe my darling Kathy Anne felt in her gut that she was sick a good bit before we received the cancer diagnosis on Dec. 26, 2022.

Kathy Anne did not reveal what she might have known. She was not wired to do that. It was her stoic nature that compelled her to keep it quiet.

I lost my bride to glioblastoma cancer of the brain on Feb. 3. She fought a brief — but very fierce — battle against the disease before it claimed her.

Now for a brief flashback.

We returned in October 2022 from a lengthy trip in our travel trailer. We hauled our trailer to the West Coast, visited family and friends. Then we returned home. On our way back to North Texas, Kathy Anne broached a subject I wasn’t expecting from her: She wanted to sell the RV. It was time, she said.

Kathy Anne laid out plenty of reasons for selling the vehicle: We had traveled far and wide in our three RVs; we were weary of battling the little problems that kept cropping up with them; we could sell the RV and then decide how we wanted to spend the rest of our life.

I signed on. Sure thing, I told her. I am ready to do something else.

So … we sold it. We pocketed the money and then, barely a month later, she began exhibiting some curious symptoms. She began losing her balance. She was stumbling — a lot.

Kathy Anne also had undergone a significant loss of weight over the course of several months. Our friends would comment on it and she would blow it off, saying she had spent a lot of time power walking through the neighborhood; that’s how the weight came off.

It sounds plausible to me even now. But … then came the decision to go to the hospital in McKinney the day after this past Christmas. The doc told her of the mass they found in her brain. Her reaction? Typical stoicism. “Let’s just get it out of there,” she said.

I look back on all this now and wonder: Did she know something she couldn’t share this past fall? 

I have told members of my family that Kathy Anne was the most intuitive individual I have ever known. As I recall the sequence I have just described, I am convincing myself that her marvelous intuition was at work. Quite obviously, I cannot prove any of this.

Thus, I have just explained why I have struggled to tell this story.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Fog is lifting … slowly

Every friend with whom I have discussed this matter has said the same thing: Do not rush your way out of your mourning and your heartache.

It will take time for your heart to heal, they say. Yes. I get it. My heart is still broken from the loss of my beloved bride, Kathy Anne, to cancer not quite three months ago. It isn’t likely to heal completely … ever!

I am not rushing anything. However, I am happy to report to those who have an interest in this journey I have been taking that I am beginning to establish a bit of a rhythm to my new life and, yes, the fog is lifting … albeit slowly.

Some things still pierce my soul; they bring tears to my eyes. One of them is the sight of the headstone with Kathy Anne’s name on it. The monument maker this week installed it and I have made two trips to the cemetery to see it. I’ll leave it at that.

But as I go through my day, I am finding an ability to accomplish tasks with dispatch. I take time to laugh at a joke. I play with Toby the Puppy, who continues to provide tremendous companionship … and who continues to entertain me in that way that only devoted pets can do.

And I am able to write about her on this blog, an exercise that gives me a form of emotional therapy.

I can talk openly about my bride now, whereas doing so just a few weeks ago would reduce me to blubbering.

Is any of this a startling revelation? Of course not! It is merely my understanding and appreciating the knowledge that my life is changed forever.

This much hasn’t changed since the day Kathy Anne left us: I still think of her practically every waking moment of every single day. Maybe one day that will change. Just not yet.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Indeed … all things must pass

The recent tragedy that befell my family and me has forced us to learn some of life’s harshest lessons.

The great singer/songwriter George Harrison once told us that “All things must pass … all things must pass away.”

Indeed, if I have learned anything about myself while I mourn the passing of my beloved bride, Kathy Anne, is that grief and mourning are part of life.

This is my way of reporting to those of you who have been following me along this journey that I am a fairly quick study when it comes to learning that lesson. I am able to go through most days now without welling up, or without weeping openly at the thought that my bride is no longer by my side.

I am able to complete household tasks. I am able to look at Kathy Anne’s pictures without sobbing. I am able to talk about her (most of the time) without stopping to collect myself.

Granted, there remain many more hurdles to clear as I continue this trek through the darkness. They don’t look quite as daunting today as they did soon after cancer took my bride away from us. Do not misunderstand me on this point, which is that those hurdles are formidable, but I am beginning to have faith that I’ll be able to get past them … eventually.

One of the lessons that has been drummed into my noggin is to not “rush anything,” that I am entitled to grieve in my own way and at my own pace. I accept that and I am adhering to that advice.

Thus, my grief will continue, but I damn sure won’t let it burden me. That’s life, man … because all things must pass.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Grief takes different course

Grief is the most unique and perhaps most intimate feeling one can experience, which I believe I am learning as I continue to process the loss of my bride, Kathy Anne.

Forty-three years ago, I received word of my father’s passing in a freak boating accident north of Vancouver, British Columbia. My initial reaction was strange, in that I could seemingly feel the blood drain from my body as I pondered the news that hit me like a punch in the gut.

Then came this notion that I could not look at photos of Dad. It took me some time to be able to look at his face captured forever in those photographs.

Not so with my bride. I find myself wanting to look at her smile, which could light up a room. She had a wide, somewhat toothy smile. She laughed easily.

These days, as I still struggle with my emotions, I find myself gazing at her. I have several photos of my bride scattered around the house. Some were taken at our wedding more than 51 years ago; some were shot at our son’s wedding; there’s a lovely picture of the two of us at our niece’s high school graduation in 1999.

I draw comfort in those photos, unlike the dread I felt when Dad was taken from us in that shocking manner in September 1980. I was just 30 years of age then. Today, well … I obviously am a whole lot older. Maybe my emotional mechanism is more defined than it was when I was a much younger man.

I wanted to share this item with you just to give you a quick update on my progress. I appreciate very much the expressions of thanks I am getting from those who are following this journey.

Truthfully, I am beginning to see glimmers of light as I trudge through this darkness. The pictures of Kathy Anne are helping.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

‘Better,’ but not yet ‘good’

I believe I have made a reasonably profound conclusion upon returning from my westward journey to clear my head in the wake of my beloved bride’s passing from cancer.

It rests in an answer I give to those who know me and who are acutely aware of what happened to Kathy Anne on Feb. 3.

They ask: How are you doing? How are you feeling?

My answer: I am better. I am not yet good.

The conclusion I have reached? It is that I might never be “good” the way I used to define the word. Does that mean I am going to wallow in my grief? No. It means — as I perceive it — that I will have to accept that the pain that shattered my heart will remain with me for as long as I live.

My task, therefore, will be to carry on even as I continue to hurt. The two elements are not mutually exclusive, as those who have been through it have told me.

One dear friend — a fellow I have known since we were in high school — counseled me on my trip out west to “not be afraid to move forward, but never forget where you’ve been.” He speaks from his own experience of having lost his wife to cancer just a few years ago. My friend is a wise man and I take his advice seriously.

My trip was a good tonic for me. I returned home to North Texas feeling more peaceful than I did when I departed with Toby the Puppy. I am feeling better today than I did a month ago.

And you know what? I am not going to look for the “good” feeling. I will know if and when it shows up … kinda like the moment I first laid eyes on the girl of my dreams.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A ‘fulfilling’ journey

Rarely — if ever — in all my years walking this good Earth have I enjoyed a “fulfilling” time away from home.

I had one of those experiences during the past month on the road.

My wife passed away from brain cancer on Feb. 3. I wanted to get out of the house for a while to clear my head. Toby the Puppy and I put a lot of miles on my truck … 6,629 of them to be precise. We saw many family members and friends on our trek to the Pacific Coast.

I have received a number of gratifying responses from those who read this blog. I have written of my pain and the journey I took to help alleviate it. Kathy Anne and I were together for 52 years and her illness came on quickly and it advanced in a savage fashion.

Some of you have expressed thanks for sharing my journey with you and those expressions mean more to me than I can possibly articulate in this brief post.

I have proclaimed that I have accomplished my mission by clearing my head of the confusion that overwhelmed me along with the rest of my family. I am thinking more clearly now about how to proceed with my future plans, which I acknowledge remain a work in progress.

My heart still hurts. I won’t try to repair it overnight. Or even in the next few months or even longer than that. I have sought to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the pain that I expect will flare without warning.

I also have learned that I need not apologize for those moments when I weep. So … to those who read these words and with whom I will have personal contact, you are hereby advised to expect these episodes.

All of this my way of declaring that my journey was fulfilling and was the type of adventure that my beloved bride would agree is necessary to cleanse one’s soul.

I am glad to be home.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Another leg completed

SANTA FE, N.M. — The longest leg of this extraordinary journey is complete. I am pooped. So is Toby the Puppy.

The next two legs will be pieces of cake compared to what we just endured. What was that?

We left this morning at 5. Our trip from Richfield, Utah to a campsite just north of Santa Fe was all of 570 miles. My Ford Ranger guidance system said it would take about eight hours of drive time. It took us 11 hours.

We had to get some shut-eye along the way, Toby the Puppy and I had to relieve ourselves, we needed gas and I stopped for lunch in Cortez, Colo.

My bride, Kathy Anne, and I lived in West Texas for 23 years before moving to Princeton in 2019. During our time out yonder, we learned one irrefutable truth about that part of the world: In order to get anywhere, you have to drive some distance. Amarillo is a long way from most destinations, so we accustomed ourselves to driving a while to get to where we needed to go.

Those trips, though, rarely required us to drive 570 miles.

I’m going to see friends near Lubbock and then family in greater Austin before I point my buggy toward the house.

This journey has been worth the effort. I’ll have more to say about it later. Just know that I believe it was the correct course of action to take.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Mind is clearing

RICHFIELD, Utah — Am I allowed to declare “mission accomplished” regarding this journey that is winding to a close?

I set out to clear my mind and to remove myself from the closeness of the tragedy that befell our family on Feb. 3 with the passing of my beloved bride, Kathy Anne, to the ravages of cancer.

I believe my mind is considerably clearer now than it was when I set out on March 15 for points west. I can think of my bride without welling up. Talking about her, though, remains a challenge, as my heart remains severely damaged. I am working on that, but I cannot predict when I’ll turn that corner.

My friends and family have told me not to rush it. I won’t. I might never be free of the tears. I accept that, too, given that we spent 52 years together, 51 of them as husband and wife.

I will miss Kathy Anne forever and beyond. However, I am going to declare that my noggin is much clearer today than it was when Toby the Puppy and I launched our journey.

I am ready to go home.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Sunrise takes on poignancy

ALONG U.S. HIGHWAY 20, Ore. — This sunrise greeted me today as I sped along the roadway toward Burns.

I have to tell you something that many of you likely will presume about me … which is that a tragic event in my life will require me to look differently at the sky when these events occur.

My bride’s passing from cancer in early February shattered my heart, but when I saw this sunrise today, I thought immediately of Kathy Anne.

The sunrise didn’t mend my heart, but it did give me pleasant form of pause.

I cannot prove what I am about to say, but please know it is what I believe, which is that I felt her gazing on Toby the Puppy and me as we moved along in the light of the dawn.

It filled my heart with a bit of sadness, but also with happy memories of the life we shared on this Earth. I also was filled with hope at the life we will share in eternity.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Now for the return

MONITOR, Wash. — I am getting ready to make the turn and head for the house.

My return to North Texas will commence in a couple of days, after I visit with a couple of family members and we get caught up on what’s happening in our lives.

They know my story, as I have been chronicling it on this blog.

To be candid, I am ready to start the return to familiar haunts … not that those I have seen already aren’t plenty familiar to these 73-year-old eyes.

The constant rain that has fallen during my entire stay in the Pacific Northwest is maddeningly familiar to be sure. I grew up in Portland, where it seemingly drizzles forever and then some. Yes, I also saw old friends, five high school classmates, plenty of family, my godmother (who also is family, according to Orthodox Church tradition) and some old haunts.

But it’s time to make the trek back to Collin County. I’ll take a different route than the one that brought me to this place on the eastern slope of the Cascade Range.

What’s more, I am going to travel along some highways that I’ve never seen before. I trust that my late bride, Kathy Anne, will smile in approval as Toby the Puppy and I wind our way back to the house.

More family will greet us in the Texas Hill Country and some friends await us in West Texas.

This journey was intended for me to simply get away from the nearness of the event that broke my heart in early February. I will miss Kathy Anne forever and then some.

But I am ready to start assembling my life for the still-unknown journey that awaits.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com