Caroline the Catalyst

I once spoke to a clairvoyant woman when I was 22 years old. She told me many eerie things; she spoke of past lives, told me I rarely ever live beyond the age of 28 because I prefer to live many lives so I live them short. But this life I would live past 28, and in fact during my 28th year of existence my life would, “Open up for me”. She said enough things that resonated true that I have always held this thought in the back of my mind since that encounter. But as of late it donned on me that perhaps there is some metaphysical law which did not allow her to use her ability to tell people their time of death. So she was hinting to me, 28 could be my end.

My Birthday is June 12th, I will be 27. And over the past two years as time draws closer to this age of 28 when I contemplate this thought of death there is a deep feeling that arises inside of me, a feeling that is not of my own self but something greater. As the saying goes: I feel it in my bones.

So over the last year I began living life as if I will be going Home soon. When one thinks of the hand of death as being so close they begin to ask themselves: What do I want to do before I go? Who do I want to speak to and what do I want to say to them?

At any moment someone you love can be taken from you. One day they are healthy, the next there is an accident or they fall ill and are gone before you have time act.

This is what I want to say to Caroline before either she or I go:

Caroline the Catalyst

Caroline started off as my first employer, my job was to socialize her powerful and protective dog, Gamba, with children and people in general. I was around 10 years old at the time, it has been 17 years now and for over half of them it was just a job and Caroline was just my grandma’s neighbor whom I had the typical relationship dynamic between that of a child/teen to a non family elder. Neither Caroline or myself were very sentimental and didn’t show much emotion or affection to one another for anything beyond our work together.

In the 17 years I have known Caroline I have only hugged her once. That was about a year and a half ago when I wasn’t doing so well and I had an epiphany of how much Caroline has done for me, and unbeknownst to her, my family.

For me, she taught the fundamentals of being an employee; of having responsibilities and duties, dedicating yourself to something and showing up consistently and on time. While I was teaching the dogs to socialize I was learning to socialize with an adult outside my family. And she paid me, generously, which enabled me to enjoy the fruits of life and allowed me to pursue hobbies and interest that I wouldn’t have been able to if it hadn’t been for her funding. But even more importantly, Caroline did something for my family.

After the dog walk or sometimes before I would go to my grandmothers house, Caroline’s next door neighbor, to visit. Had it not been for Caroline I wouldn’t have been on Santa Clara Street every week, I wouldn’t have visited my grandmother every Sunday. And thus I would not have grown so close to her. Because I ended up spending more time with my grandmother I got to know her better as a person, she got to be an influence on my life and I brought companionship and meaning to hers. As I saw her more often, week after week, year after year, I thought of her more and more. And when my family would go out to eat or celebrate something, or just go on a short outing to Morro Bay or some other location I started asking, “Why don’t we invite grandma?” We did sometimes, but not always. Jane could be difficult to draw out of her house and sometimes I feel she was just forgotten. But I couldn’t forget someone who I saw every week, so I keep pushing my family and her to come together. And I can say over time I successfully did so.

Indirectly, through her employment, without even knowing it Caroline was a catalyst for bringing my family closer together. For this, and everything else you have done and taught me, I love you.

Sorry for putting you in the spotlight, I know you’re not one for self glorification. Maybe I will get a second hug from this, I just hope it’s not your hands hugging my neck.

I would sign off as, “The grandson you never had” but you did and do have me.

See you at Mass sometime.

Kevin

6/14/2018 Update— I received a lot of mixed interpretations about this post, and my final photo. To clarify, the theme of the blog was inspired by a recent death in my grandmothers neighborhood, (which is an elderly neighborhood) as well as a relative in their 90’s and nearing her time. I thought to myself how that neighbor could have just as well been my grandmother or Caroline and I would have felt regretful for not expressing my thoughts and feelings towards them. And this is a face of contemplation after mulling these thoughts over in Church, not one of sorrow. (Not yet anyways…)

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About carolinebotwin

Caroline Botwin and her husband Mike are retired educators who have always had a yen for travelling: he with a PH.D and teaching Architectural Engineering plus California wine education, and she having taught high school English, speech and drama. Both wanted to learn first hand about other cultures. While Mike predominately studied buildings and structures and met with winemakers, Caroline hunted for ancient sites and peoples. And kept journals of all their travels. Kevin Klimczak, extraordinaire, is the website designer and editor of the blogs.
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