Kenneth, Kenny, Ken whatever name you called him was a very down to earth funny and delightful man, a member of our family for over two decades. He was included in all family events and holidays, in fact he lived with us on the mountain for about 8 years, before returning to Houston and passing away.
Our family first met Ken at The Salvation Army Temple Corps in Houston in 1982. He was a soldier in The Salvation Army and also worked for The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center on Washington Avenue in Houston.
We became very close to him after my husband Gene and I became employed there, also. He, I can say was like a brother from another mother for Gene.
As you can imagine, we have a treasure chest of stories about Ken and I will be sharing them as time goes by. This story is one about his reunion with his Mother, Babe. They had not seen or heard from each other for over eight years when he found out she was living in Arizona. The last he had heard of her, she was living in Philly, his home town.
They had communicated via telephone for over three years when Babe came to visit with him in Houston. We were excited to be able to drive him to the airport to greet her. Later, Babe told us that Ken was always up to some sort of mischief and she didn’t know what to expect upon her arrival. The Salvation Army brass band, maybe!
Needless to say, Ken was excited and also a little uncomfortable as we waited for her flight to come in. At one point, he went to the restroom and Gene and I talked about his stress, after not seeing her for so many years. A man was sitting across from us with his secretary giving her final instructions before his flight. I saw him glance towards us a few times, but really didn’t think he was listening to us.
Babe came down the ramp from the plane and it was several moments of awkwardness for all of us. Suddenly the man came running up to us saying something like; I know it’s been a long time Mom, so don’t be too hard on him there may be some skeletons in the closet. At this he ran off to catch his flight, disappearing in the crowd. Ken said something like “who was that turkey”? Babe stepped forward, looked at Gene and said, “And you must be the other turkey”. Babe thought that Ken had set this up, to break the ice, and Ken thought we had the man do this. It took us several hours to convince them both that we were as astounded as they were and that none of us set it up!
That man to me was an angel sent to break through the intense feelings that both Ken and Babe were going through. Ken and Babe had a very strong relationship from this point on. Babe passed away in Arizona shortly before Ken passed away in Houston.
They are both sadly missed by us, but the experience of having such wonderful human beings despite the flaws in our life has been an immeasurable treasure.
* The Fallible Human Beings in My Life, a series of short blogs mostly about people who have shaped my life because of who they were.