Thursday, December 22, 2016

Letter to Ken

While I was on the ship in the Southern Ocean waiting to come home and say good-bye to Ken, I was keeping a little journal.  This morning - December 22, 2016 I thought I would put a blog post of one of my entries written on Saturday, November 5, 2016 - nine days after Ken died.

Ken,  It's the second last day of the trip.  I am here in our little three person cabin.  We finished photographing the Falkland Islands yesterday.  The blue eyed Shags - Cormorants were magnificent.  They were building their nests and courting and flying directly over our heads.  The Rock Hopper Penguins were there in the rocks - just as cute as they could be.  And the Albatross - oh the magnificent Black-Browed Albatross.  My pictures are O.K.  All these great photographers here make mine look pretty weak, but it's great to have such expertise all around.

Here I am without you for the first time in 23 years.  When I met you 23 years ago ASTM was giving me my anchor.  Although I was having a rough time with ISR (Institute for Standards Research.)  You came roaring into my life.  You were very - I don't know - smart.  You had a great brain.  Very organized - set in your ways - disciplined.  You were very kind and had great values.  Hard working to the nth degree.

I'm not sure what attracted you to me, but you were.  I was very attracted to you.  I loved your looks, your face, your hair, your eyes, your legs, your calves.  I loved that you loved to run and to cook and to keep your things neat and tidy.  I loved that you were a saver and not a spender.  I loved that you were a great listener.  You didn't talk too much.  You engaged me in a way that you got to know me - the real me - inside and out.

We fit together well.  I always loved you.  I always wanted to be with you.  Always wanted your approval.  You grounded me.  Kept me on the straight and narrow.  I calmed down immensely after we got together.  No more wild drinking or smoking.  We had a very good life together, good jobs, great house, and when Yumiko came a truly wonderful family.

And then in 2006 the Parkinson's Disease came.  It hit us square in the face.  Changed the trajectory of our lives completely.  But again - you were strong.  You helped me plan and execute a year in Japan.  We did the whole thing - getting our house ready for a year away.  Getting Yumiko's school situated (with Takae San's help.)  Then up and going.  Your Parkinson's was already affecting you a lot.  You had tremendous difficulty walking.

I found photography and just became obsessed with it.  Obsessed in a good way.  It gave me relief from the constant worry of watching you decline.

Ten years is a long, long time to be a caregiver to someone you totally love - Someone who certainly had vulnerability and weakness.  You expected a lot out of me Ken and I worked my tail off to keep us happy, keep us going.  I know inside you were proud of me - but because the disease consumed so much of you - you rarely let me know how much you appreciated me.

So now here I am in the Southern Ocean.  You've been gone for almost two weeks.  I've had to hold myself together and not been able to cry.  As it would be a mess here in front of all these strangers.

Dearest Julia D. is at our house - having done all the rescue work for us.  Cleaning house, making funeral arrangements, writing your obituary, making plans for Takae San and Masataka to come.

And so, I will be home in two days.  And I will pick myself up off the ground.  Get myself in good shape and live another 30 or 40 years happily ever after.

You made my life complete.  You made my life happy and rewarding.  You made my life hard.  But it was rich and good and worth every minute.

Thank you Ken Kono for being my Ken Kono.  I am so proud to have been your wife.  I love you.


  1. "Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb." -Macrina Wiederkehr
    You and Ken shared life's beautiful crumbs together.

  2. Thank you dear sweet Joyce. You are so right. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb.

  3. Kitty, this is so touching and revealing. I just love it and you!! All the best for your new journey.
    Hugs, denise

  4. Thank you dear Denise. Hope our paths will cross soon again.