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Johanna Albee

To fit the essence of Kathleen into such a small area is impossible. I humbly attempt to convey to you a glimpse into who she was.

I remember clearly my first meeting with Kathy (as she was called for short). I had been driving for several days with my husband Richard. We were in the process of moving from Arizona to Illinois. We were going to stay with Kathy, my husband's mom, for a while until we got settled. During the course of the drive to Illinois I became extremely ill (I later found out that it was pleurisy). It was snowing heavily as we entered Rockford, Illinois. I was feeling weaker by the moment, and by the time we arrived in front of Kathy's house, Richard had to carry me into the house. I remember him laying me in his moms bed. I was snuggled up in her bed when I heard her soft, motherly voice. I slowly opened my eyes and saw her, those warm brown eyes, she looked just like an angel to me.

We quickly became best friends. She took on the surrogate mother role to me. Even after my divorce from her son we remained very close. I never felt alone in Illinois away from all of my family and friends when she was around. Her sharp wit, fiery passion, wicked sense of humor, and bold, brassy personality were mesmerizing to me. I adored everything about her. She was incredibly fun, her zest for life intoxicated everyone who was in her presence. She was always dancing and singing around her house and she turned the summer days into an endless party of BBQ's. When I needed strength she was there to give it to me in heavy doses. When I finally had the courage to accept that I was gay, she was the first person I confided in.

My son Ricky developed the same tight bond with Kathy from the moment he was born. What a fun Grandma she was. She drew a little miniature city on some art paper for him to drive his cars on. Her endless creative ways to entertain him dazzled him and me as well. She made Christmas magical for everyone that was around her.

Then came the day that Kathy was diagnosed with lung cancer. I watched beautiful Kathy disappear into a body that was dying around her. For two years she fought the cancer that was consuming her. She kept her wicked sense of humor through her entire battle with the cancer.

In her final days I became very ill. I was weak with grief, but I forced myself to go to work, it was there I received the heartbreaking phone call that she had passed on. Not able to keep myself composed, I went home and collapsed in tears on my couch. As I was crying I felt this intense warmth surrounding me, I knew it was Kathy, I could feel her harder then I had ever felt her during her lifetime here. I felt like she was inside of me. I heard her voice whispering the words "Honey, you are very sick, you have pneumonia, you need to see a Doctor". There she was being a mom to me still, even after her passing. It was confirmed the next day at the Doctor's office that I did indeed have pneumonia.

When I first saw Kathy she looked like an angel to me, I know now she is. Beautiful Kathleen you will never be forgotten.

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