Monday, November 19, 2007


Tomorrow, I’m driving down to the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, VA, to spend the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend with my family.

I remember Katie saying once that Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday. I ran this by Judy the other day, but she didn’t remember Katie ever telling her the same thing. Judy did learn, at Cathy Ganz’s wedding, that Katie and Dayna swam across the Mississippi River after their college graduation. I had never heard that story, but it was a great one. Maybe one of the nice things about grief is that you get to piece together all of the spaces in-between what you already know about a person. Or, maybe you just make it up?

Favorite or not, Katie liked Thanksgiving for all the expectations, commercialism, and drama it lacked relative to other big holidays. Thanksgiving is also the first time that Katie met my family. Flying back from Daegu, Korea, where we stayed with a friend for three weeks after being evacuated from Bangladesh, then Thailand, in 2001, we landed in Atlanta and spent a week with the family. I wouldn't be telling the whole story if I didn’t mention that I orchestrated a practical joke that Thanksgiving Day, when I convinced Katie that my family held an annual talent show and she consequently juggled. It was an incredibly insensitive thing to do, and I have no idea why I thought it would be clever. Well, I do, but still it was a lesser personal moment. Katie made some angry phone calls to members of her own family shortly thereafter, but being a far better person than me, let it go and we had a nice first holiday with my family.

Leaving Atlanta to head back to Chicago, Katie gave me two Thanksgiving gifts: a pumice stone, for the nasty calluses I’d built up on my feet all those months in Tangail, and a short poem, Scrambled, by Bruce Lansky. It was the first of many non-holiday gifts that I received from Katie, which would come at the most unexpected times. I remember thinking it was a good sign that she would give me a poem. I also remember realizing, much later, what a huge gift it was that Katie wanted to spend Thanksgiving with my family, given the traditions she so enjoyed being a part of at Michelle’s house, with the extended Garwood/LaPlante clan.

Thank you for the time, attention, cell phone minutes (upon cell phone minutes), late-night and early-morning IM exchanges, sympathy, physical space, patience, understanding and compassion, especially these last five months. Writing this blog, and knowing it is read, is helpful for me, because writing is the best way I know to make sense of things right now.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, John for this great "non-holiday" gift.
PS - The 2 river swimmers were Katie and Dayna.

John W. Evans said...

Thanks for the correction, Judy--I changed it in the post!

Michelle said...

Thank you, John, for all the poems, phone calls, emails, support, hugs, laughs, tears, and love that you have continued to share with us.

Love, Michelle

Marcus said...

Well, somebody has to say it—you’re being too hard on yourself about that talent show. I thought it was funny when you told me about it, and in the long run Katie wasn’t upset. At all.

Happy Thanksgiving John.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that swim across the river was quite the adventure. We tried to "test" the current before we went, and when we reached the other side, it was so rocky we couldn't figure out where to stop and take a break before heading back.

It was all Katie's idea-- she said that it was something she had wanted to do before she graduated. I guess I was the only sucker who was willing to give it a try!

Happy Thanksgiving John and family.


Anonymous said...

Good post John... yes D and KT were the two swimmers... I was not among them, I am sure I was studying somewhere :)

I think you brought up a good point, we all have different "Katie Stories" to share. Maybe this would be a good place to share them(Dayna - don't tell the one about the flower pot :) ).

How about all of the part time jobs Katie picked up - dispatcher with the SCSU Student Police Department, delivering pizzas in St. Paul, and selling Nordic Tracks in Wisc..

Cathy Ganz

Anonymous said...

Oh wow - stories about Katie .........
Dayna, let me tell you about Katie and swimming..... she could swim at about the age of 2. I was a swimming instructor at the local Y at the time and Katie was just my "partner" - and as you know, Katie could learn anything.
Long about the time she was 6 or 7 and a good swimmer we were at a beach (Eddie was a summer lifeguard at a local beach) and I noticed that Katie would not go in the water over her knees. We had a talk about why don't you go down the slide or swim with me out to the raft? It soon became apparent that Katie didn't think she could swim in lake water because she couldn't see the bottom. (no lines, you know) I tried to reason that with her to no avail - so, at last I carried her into deeper water and let her go (what kind of mom does something like that?!!!). I was right next to her and guess what? She swam!!! However, to my knowledge, she never liked to swim in open water of any kind. She always worried about what was "in the water".
So, Katie swam across the Mississippi River! How amazing to me. Another one of those things that she did, in spite of great fear, because she knew that once she did it she'd never be afraid of it again. I'll explain that some other time.
Thanks to all of you, especially John, for providing such a great place to remember and love.

Anonymous said...

John- KT liked Thanksgiving for PRECICELY the same reason it's my fav.

Great to finally meet you last week; I now have a glimpse into why you are so adored by those around you!