Pondering the Pavement

April 8, 2016

Heaven’s Kitchen

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 12:11 am
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I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe our dad. My mind reels at the wide array of adjectives swirling through my head. Do you know what I’ve discovered? It’s not an easy task to just “sum up a person.”  Summarizing our dad is like saying the Himalayas are just a couple of hills. When I was a kid, Reader’s Digest—the IDEAL publication for those with ADHD—ran a regular feature entitled, “The Most Unforgettable Person I Ever Met.” Well, let me tell you, if Everett Kitchen is ANYTHING, it is ‘unforgettable.’ His warmth is an inferno. His generosity extends beyond a vanishing point on the far horizon. I could go on and on about his loyalty, his genuine heart, his devotion to family and friends, his sense of humor. All of the traits that we already know so well, and are already missing.

There are several things I will miss, of course. His hugs, for example. He would just engulf you in those massive arms of his. You’d struggle, but only in jest. Once there, you just didn’t want to leave because you were home. Another thing is his “seal of approval.” I’m sure we’ve all heard it at one point or another.

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Everett “Kitch” Kitchen (1938 – 2016)

Someone would ask, “Hey, Kitch, how’s that bowl of chili?”

He’d answer excitedly, “WOOT! I mean to tell ya!”

 “Is this OK?”

“Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

“Isn’t that funny, Kitch?”

“Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

He is his own man with his own style.

His surname couldn’t be any more appropriate. Seriously, what that man could do in a kitchen was something wedged between a miracle and a masterpiece. A stove and a spatula were his brushes while an empty plate and stomach were his canvases. As you can see, I’m quite the accomplished art collector… He did everything in his power to make sure no one left his home hungry. And, if he went to YOUR place, he’d bring the food to you or make it there himself. And, if by some freak of nature, you DID go away hungry… well, it was your own damn fault.

Kitch brought a lot to the table, both literally and figuratively. Whether it is the dinner table or to whatever relationship you had with him. Parent. Family. Friend. Co-worker. Partner in Crime. It didn’t matter because any table setting with him was as beautiful as it was memorable. It overflowed with all and more than you needed, let alone expected. And, if by some random hiccup in the Universe, you couldn’t find what you wanted, then he’d find a way to get it for you.

017He was a father and an unconventional one at that.  He didn’t raise us as a traditional Ward Cleaver sort. But his love for all of us was never hidden or denied. He bubbled over with love and pride for his kids. He was always willing to offer a helping hand, a kind word, a flick on the back of the head if we’d wander too far off the expected path. He gave us room to breathe, to falter, to experience life as WE saw it and to learn from our successes as well as our failures. He always encouraged each of us to stand and evolve on our own, and that included falling as well. He graciously and generously offered advice, encouragement, and unending love. He also had absolutely no problem serving up his completely unedited opinions. His views, like his love, were given freely, without hesitation or reserve, whether you wanted it or not. If you asked him a question you’d better be willing to hear the answer!

I am an adoptee. My birth mother was not in a position to care for me properly. She felt I would have a better chance if she put me up for adoption. My mom who raised me, who is a hair shy of 93 and feisty as ever, has always been upfront with me about my adoption. She was very supportive when I began my search for my biological families—my roots—over 30 years ago (By the way, I began my search when I was 8…). I was 33 years old when I spoke to Everett the very first time. I first spoke to my birth-mother three weeks earlier. I was welcomed by her, and her family, with open arms. However, I honestly believed I would NOT have a relationship with my birth-father. I expected to be denied and turned away. In my experiences, birth fathers are more likely to shun the whole idea while birth mother’s are pretty much the opposite. I had a great reunion with my birth mother so I certainly did not expect lightening to strike twice.

Kitch proved to be the wild card. Lightening struck with a blinding intensity and started a fire that burns brilliantly to this day and beyond. Way to go, Dad…

The first five minutes of our initial phone conversation were cordial. Friendly, but understandably guarded. I explained I didn’t want anything other than some answers, a peek into on my own history. He told me that he would be happy to tell me what he could.

He then asked, “What’s your blood type?”

I fully understood why he asked. We did not have the luxury of having Maury Povich exclaiming, “Everett! You ARE the father!”

Well, he asked so, being the naturally born smart-mouth that I am—thanks, Dad—I simply replied, “My blood type? Red.”

Then we both howled in laughter. This disruption of the sound barrier was immediately met with our abrupt silence. For the first time in my life I heard my laugh echo back at me.

If you know Kitch, you know THE LAUGH. That garish, glass shattering cackle that has been known to make babies cry and land masses shift.

After a moment of silence Kitch said, “This is real, isn’t it?”

I merely answered, “Yea. I guess it is.”

That ended any discussion of blood type right then and there. Paternity proven through laughter. IN YOUR FACE, MAURY!

04_FamilySo, yes, I have the laugh. My brother, Markis, has the laugh. My sister, Carletta, has THE LAUGH. Hearing this laugh spew upward and outward from someone standing a petite five-foot-four is, honestly, just plain spooky!

I don’t mean to stand here and tell you he was perfect. He wasn’t and he’d be the first to admit it. He didn’t even meander in a suburb of the gated community of perfection. He was bull-headed. The man took stubborn to a height that any accomplished mountain climber would covet. He was a cut of the ‘my way or no way’ jib.

On my first visit to his home in Colorado, he had the gall to announce to this City Boy, “We get up at 4 o’clock in the morning around here.”

I replied, “Good to know. When I get up at 10 be sure you tell me all about it.”

See? I got a little more than just his laugh.

If he didn’t like something, whether it be a situation or tuna, he’d let you know about it. He wouldn’t shirk away from his opinion and he respected anyone who did the same. He shot from the hip and ricochets be damned. He told me, more than once, “I always speak my mind… when I can find it.”

He had zero tolerance for anyone who wallowed in their own self-pity. “If you aren’t willing to help yourself,” he said, “how can you face yourself in the mirror?”

I looked at him and said, “I sold my mirrors. They were defective.”

Once again, that laugh echoed in stereo.

He didn’t believe in regrets. Instead, he preferred to own up to what was, focus on what is, and look forward to what may be. An eternal optimist wrapped in a tortilla of sarcasm. Again, unforgettable.

He was a giver. He didn’t ask for anything other than honesty and love in return. He received so much more joy when giving to another than getting a glamorous holiday gift himself.

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In order of appearance: Carletta, Sandra, Charles and Markis.

Honestly, if I had to sum him up, I’d have to say our father is about laughter. He instilled that in all of us. He is about joy. He is about giving. And, I mean to tell ya, he is about food! Preparing AND eating! He is about bringing people together. The turnout today surely proves that. He even managed to wrangle his kids together for the very first time. Talk about being a control freak!

His passing has been such a shock to each and every one of us. How someone so full of life—even BIGGER than life—can be gone so quickly is just a mystery. We’re all still trying to wrap our minds around referring to him in the past tense. My sister, Carletta, summed it up best a few days ago. She stepped groggily out of her bedroom one morning and said, “Do you know what I was supposed to be doing today?”

“What’s that?” I asked.

She simply said, “Not this.”

Boy, Sis, ya got that right.

It’s only fitting that Dad passed ON  April Fool’s Day. If anyone would appreciate the humor it that, it would be him. The real kicker for me is that the very next day, April 2nd, marked the 22nd anniversary of the very first time he and I spoke. The first time I ever heard OUR laugh.

Because of my work as a medium, I know that life never truly ends, that we don’t really die. We simply move on. With that in mind, someone recently asked me, “Where do you think he is now?” Honestly, this is how I picture it: Dad makes his way through a field of billowing clouds of dry ice like we see in so many Hollywood movies. After walking for awhile he finally sees a glowing light off in the distance. Instinctively, he begins to walk toward it. As he draws near the light he is is immediately greeted by a multitude of hyperactive drooling black labs. Amidst the jumping, licking and yelps of excitement, they manage to lead him to this massive set of pearly gates. The gates open effortlessly because they have WD-40 over there. The opening gates resemble what can only be described as large arms reaching out for a loving, long overdue embrace. The kind that he, himself, always gave. As Kitch’s brown eyes adjust to the intense bright light, he finds himself standing in His presence.

The Big Guy standing before The Bigger Guy.

So, Kitch just flashes that crooked smile of his, and simply drawls, “So, did I do OK?”

And God, in whatever form you see Him, in whatever way you believe, looks at Kitch, reflecting that same crooked smile that He, Himself, created, and exclaims, “Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

We love you, Dad.

Eulogy Delivered Thursday, April 7, 2016
Wayne, WV

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6 Comments »

  1. Way to make me cry like a baby. GOSH.

    Thank you, Barb Mallon http://www.BarbMallon.com email: office@barbmallon.com 703.474.2227 (o)

    Comment by Barb Mallon — April 8, 2016 @ 12:15 am | Reply

  2. Wow, I’m in tears here partially sad because I know the feeling of the loss of your father but also happy tears because I believe the same. You just leave this dimension. I believe there’s SO much happiness on the other side. God Bless Charles. I’ve been thinking and praying for you and your family. Linda (Bluebelle Matthews)

    Comment by Linda Ryan — April 8, 2016 @ 1:33 am | Reply

  3. Reading this I laughed and I cried. The laughter won. You are an amazing son, honoring your father perfectly. Love you Charles…..Karen Vedder

    Comment by Karen Vedder — April 11, 2016 @ 4:05 am | Reply

  4. This glimpse of his life through your loving words is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your life with us…a true gift.

    Comment by Linda Ferris — April 11, 2016 @ 4:09 am | Reply

  5. Charles, your Dad both looks and sounds just like you! I so sorry for your loss, but glad you got to know him for the many years you did. Bless you and your family, Dad is looking down and laughing.

    love,
    maryanne

    Comment by maryanne — April 11, 2016 @ 11:24 am | Reply

  6. Thanks for sharing this with us Charles. He sounded exactly like the sort of father I would have expected you to have.. I’m so glad you had a positive reunion with both your biological parents.. I’m looking forward to the day when I can finally meet my own father who died when I was just 10 months. Again, thanks for sharing!
    Big hug,
    Connie

    Comment by piratesorka — April 11, 2016 @ 11:51 pm | Reply


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