Friday, July 29, 2011

10 months this week.

Happy 10 months my sweet baby boy. This month you learned and experienced so much. You made your Poppy so happy, perfected pulling to stand and cruising, learned how to feed yourself a variety of chopped foods including avocados, peas, blueberries and grapes, danced to music, waved "hi" and "bye," said "ma ma ma" and "da da da" and "num num num," gave kisses and "huggas", drank out of a sippy cup, and lit up our lives every day. I am so proud to be your mommy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The After.

It has been two weeks and one day since my dad died.

Even typing that sentence was surreal. Ugghhh, I miss him so much.

There's been a sort of quiet around here lately that I wasn't really expecting. While my dad was sick, people were constantly coming and going, bringing meals, checking in, and visiting. Hospice and medical equipment people were in and out all day and night. It even feels like we were moving faster - in and out, in and out, in and out of Dad's bedroom. All of this has tapered off. It's not a bad thing but rather a necessary thing, I'd imagine. The quiet allows us to begin to process the loss and heal. What I've found is that this processing and healing is mostly an inner journey. As social beings, we naturally want someone else to be able to make it better, but no one really can. Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't be where I am without the support of my family and friends, but what I'm saying is that to really heal, you have to be ready to look inward and listen to your self. When that occurs is probably different for everyone, but I'm pretty certain that this quiet lull is meant to introduce us to healing...whether we like it or not. It makes me curious about death in other cultures and their customs around grieving after a loved one dies. Angus tells me that in Chinese culture there is an extended time of prayer, and eventually one of the brothers in the family will see the deceased person's soul move on to the afterlife. This brother reports back to the family that their loved one is OK and at peace.

My biggest question over the past two weeks has been, "Is Dad OK?" After watching him suffer a tremendous amount, I found myself longing to know for certain that he is somewhere where his suffering no longer matters to him...where it's no longer something that pains him...where cancer is unheard of. In talking about all of this with my mom, sister, Angus and Mike, we decided that if there is a way for spirits to visit the living or deliver a message, my dad would be first in line. It's interesting.... Amidst this quiet, I am growing more and more confident that he is OK and that he is with us all of the time. I see Calvin reach up toward "nothing" like he does when he wants to be held, and I just know my dad is there. I feel his presence on my walks or when I look at my son asleep in his crib. There have been other signs too, and maybe I'm just looking for them, but I'd like to think it's my dad saying, "I'm alright, guys." I know I haven't reached the point of acceptance yet - hell, I'm not even sure if I've been able to start grieving yet - and although I'd much rather him be alive, the belief that he is OK is growing stronger within me with each passing day.

It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. ~K.T. Jong

Monday, July 18, 2011


I got my hair done by the amazing Jen Harnish at Trans4mation Salon in Lancaster this week. It was a much needed morning of pampering, and it felt good to get away for a few hours. I've been wanting feather extensions for months now (ever since I tried to dye a chunk of my hair electric blue and failed), so I decided to go for it. They are pretty subtle, and I feel like I'm in middle school following the latest trend, but I love them! Following the whole middle school vibe, I took some photos of myself today so I could eventually show my kids that Mommy was still sort of cool at 30. Aw, who am I kidding...I'm still just a big nerd! ;-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Makes the heart happy.

Love this, and would like to think Dad was there to see it, too.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Several people who couldn't be at the service on Saturday for my dad have asked about the eulogy my sister and I wrote and gave. I've decided to post it on my blog in hopes that those who read it will be just as inspired by my dad as my sister and I have been. Love you, Dad.

(Paragraphs 1 & 3 - Katy; Paragraphs 2 & 4 - Keri)

One day last week, Keri and I went to sit with Dad for a while before we went for a walk. During those days, Dad didn’t do much of the talking. We did most of it, and Dad listened or drifted in and out of sleep. We talked to him about anything and everything, and told him again and again how much we loved him. As we were leaving the room that particular day, he woke up long enough to tell us to have fun on our walk, and then as he drifted to sleep, he said out of the blue, “You’ll figure it out.” We really had no idea where this advice came from, but when Dad gives advice, you stop and listen because it’s always worth hearing. On our walk, we found ourselves discussing our lives and the situation and believe it or not kept coming back to the phrase, “We’ll figure it out.” We knew that this short, powerful bit of advice would help us get through the days to come and would continue to influence us for the rest of our lives. So, that said, we each did our best to figure out some words that we hope will paint a picture of the amazing person our dad was.

Since the moment I can first remember, I have always been so immensely proud to be Ken Walkowiak’s daughter. From swim meets where Dad would high five and cheer for my friends to homecoming when he walked me across that football field and threw in a few of his signature dance moves to coming to every single one of my field hockey games – home and away – , my dad was always my biggest supporter. I loved that my dad was my soccer and basketball coach, and although he knew little about either sport and I wasn’t exactly the star athlete, he was happy because I was having fun and he was there to experience it. As many of my family members and friends can attest to, my dad was often the most fun adult in the room. He was known for making up silly games and songs, snapping his fingers in your face, quoting funny movies, and infamously winning every boardwalk game he played. The times Dad got angry were few and far between but always involved some sort of property damage like the time we slammed our bodies into the basement door not realizing it was dead bolted and ripped the door from it’s frame. Opposite of many teenagers these days, I actually wanted my friends to meet my dad. Always immaculately dressed, smelling good, and up-to-date with the current music, Dad could talk to anyone. He’d also hand out coupons for free Ken’s salad dressing and BBQ sauce to my friends, which made him even more awesome. He loved to make other people smile and could either be the life of the party or a man of few words – both of which were equally special depending on the occasion. As I moved into adulthood, Dad guided me with big decisions, told me never to settle, and wrapped his loving arms around Angus and Calvin. During his battle with cancer, the pride I had for my dad soared above anything I’d ever felt. I have learned so much from the man my father was, and I know that there’s something about the relationship between a father and his daughter that even time can’t change. I will always call my dad, Ken Walkowiak, my hero and inspiration and always be so proud to be his daughter.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been to me an example of strength and unconditional love. When I close my eyes I see my dad - my strong, gentle, funny, loving dad. I can still feel his affectionate hugs and hear his phone voice that seemed to be special just for me, his little girl. As I think back to all of the times he comforted me in my most fearful moments I realize that I never should have been afraid because my dad’s love for me never failed. The first time I got on the Super Dooper Looper and burst into tears at the top telling my dad I wanted to go back, he laughed, put his arm around me and told me it was going to be ok. We hit the loop and my tears turned into laughter as I rode the rest of the way safe under his arm. When I was too afraid to go beyond ankle deep in the ocean, dad would get the flimsy blue raft we got for free at one of his food shows and tell me to hold on. I vividly remember fearing for my life as those deadly waves charged at us, but soon enough the waves stopped breaking and instead, they became rounded and smooth. I remember looking over at my dad seeing his smile and hearing his reassuring laughter, and I knew that with my dad I was always safe. His protective grasp never once left me as we floated there together and I felt such peace and pure happiness because together, we defeated fear. My dad has always been my rock. He’s been the one I look to for advice and comfort as well as his simple but profound words of love and guidance. He loved so purely and so selflessly, and because of that he made me the person I am today. He is still showing me who I want to strive to become, and has inspired Mike and me to love our children the way dad loved us. What he went through in the last six months during his battle with cancer is more than any one person should ever have to handle, yet he fought his incredible heart out every step of the way. When I first arrived in CT after spending the last two months at home helping my parents, Dad called me from the hospital and said, “I miss my little roommate!” I felt so honored and blessed to be able to return the feeling of comfort and safety to my dad during his greatest moments of fear. Although he was very scared, he faced every challenge with such bravery and grace. He demonstrated the most extraordinary strength, will, determination, and courageousness that I have ever witnessed before in my life. My dad is still teaching me every day what it means to love, to be love, and to live love.

Last summer around this time, our family spent a week together in Colorado. One morning, Dad, Mom, Katy and I took a walk together on a trail that runs by my house and provides a good view of the mountains. I remember thinking that it was the first time in a while that it was just the four of us together. Maybe that’s why it sticks out in our minds so much, but I think it’s also because Dad was so full of life that day. So positive and hopeful about the future. Toward the end of the walk, we passed by a large open field. Hundreds of geese were gathered in the field, and more were flying together overhead. Dad stopped at that moment, hands on his hips in his cute matching Adidas workout clothes, and stared at the sky in silence. As we all stopped in our tracks as well, Dad shook his head in awe saying, “It’s just amazing how they all fly together and know just where to go year after year.” We stood there for a while watching the geese land in groups and laughing at the stragglers being wrangled in by the leaders. None of us knew how they did it, but they stuck together and just seemed to know what to do. To some extent, all of our lives are going to be different without Kenny, our dad, here. But, above anything else, he would want us all to “be OK.” Sticking together, we’ll all do our best to move forward and keep his memory alive, and when we falter, we’ll just hold on to the belief that we’ll figure it out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


For anyone who's been keeping up with my blog, I wanted to let you know that my dad passed away last night at home with his family by his side. We will be holding a memorial service for my dad on Saturday. For now, we are sticking together, sharing memories of my dad, and trying to come to some level of acceptance. I will always be amazed at the courage, bravery, and grace with which my dad battled this unforgiving disease.

More to come in the days ahead...Thanks so much for all of your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. I don't even know what to say to express my gratitude.