Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The World Has Suffered a Great Loss

Excuse me if this is a bit disjointed, I'm writing this through tear filled eyes in an attempt to distract myself.

Personally I can never tell what my first thoughts were. Were they what I believe them to be, or perhaps just as likely a description of me at that age given by family that has been repeated so many times it has formed a memory. Regardless of which may be the case, my first memory is of me grabbing up my diaper bag and running down the street from my house to my babysitters to go and spend the day with her. Her name was Kate and she was the single greatest human being that has ever lived, and not a goddamn soul on this planet will ever convince me otherwise.

Young Kathleen Prifogle
Kate Prifogle was a retiree from the Bell Phone company who lived down the street from my parents. She had been through a divorce and had already raised her own child who was now on his own. As such, she had free time and was looking for someway to make money beyond her fixed income. At the same time, it just so happened that a freshly married couple living two doors down had just had their first child and the mother couldn't afford much time off work and didn't know who to entrust their child to. With no other options, the two parties agreed that for a trial basis she would watch the progeny and see if it worked out.

Well it did. Kate watched me five days a week for the next 8 years of my life. She taught me to read and do basic math at the age of 4 and is solely responsible for the core of who I am today. She gave me a leg up on both intelligence and morals that few other people were graced with and I'll eternally owe her a debt of gratitude. I do not remember life without her in it, thus she was never a simple "babysitter" to me, she was my Grandmother, more so than even most of my blood relatives.

Taking Katie Shopping
She was one of a kind. She earned a very meager amount of money for watching me each week, but she never spent the money on herself. Instead, the kindhearted soul chose to spend the money mostly on me. This is the woman that bought me my first comic book DETAILED HERE. This woman bought me my first guitar. So many of the things that stuck with me for the rest of my life can all be directed back to one human that graced the planet with her existence: Katie.

When the area we lived in began to become ran-down my parents opted to move to the country where they had better schools and more area to breath. Unfortunately this meant that I had to be separated from Katie, a fact of which neither one of us liked and we both cried over for weeks. We moved into the Hetzler Rd house and my father quickly made friends with the neighbor who babysitted kids and it was thought to be a match made in heaven. Long story short, the white-trash piece of shit that was put in charge of my life cared much more for her soap opera "The Young and the Restless" than she did about me. This culminated in my getting deathly-sick after she kicked me outside to puke in the snow without bothering to check on me. Well, when Katie got wind of this she had to be talked down from driving over to her house and pulling a gun on the woman, a fact of which I'm told she nearly did.

In short, we were always there for each other for the rest of our lives. When my parents got a divorce her house was the only stable rock in my life that I could always visit. When I got kicked out of my parents' house, her's was always the one I could visit rather than sleeping another night in my car. As the neighborhood gradually got worse she refused to budge as that was the house her parents had owned through the depression and she had grown up in. In classic Katie style, her solution to the problem was not to run, but rather to start carrying around a hand-gun in her purse and a baton in her hand which she referred to as her "Layover to catch meddlers".

Katie Eatin' Cake
Even after I moved out to California we still remained in close contact. As she grew older, I was not a fan of how little people in her life valued her. So everytime I came to visit I attempted to do something nice for her since others in her life seemed unwilling or unable. When her giant oak cabinet of a TV was on the fritz, I got ahold of my Mom and we got her a new one (granted she REFUSED to throw the old one out as it was "furniture" and an "investment", so I was forced to place the new TV atop the old one.) And when her hearing and eyes were going I sent her a series of new phones that had bigger numbers and screamed like a banshee when she got a call. That's what we did, we took care of each other.

When it came to writing a paper based on one of your Grandparents lives, I instead chose to do hers, and that is what I will leave you with at the bottom of this post. On April 21st 2008 I interviewed Katie about her and her families past. In it she covers everything from her own parents to her families genealogy and ties to Ireland (she was part of the Black Irish). In case you don't listen to the whole thing, her best story was when she was young and drove to Vegas with her friend. During her time there she dropped a quarter on the ground and they searched for it for 10 minutes before looking up and realizing that everyone around them were losing hundreds of dollars like it was nobodies business. This caused them to laugh so hard that she drunkenly pissed herself on the game floor of the Flamingo.

In the last few years I'm ashamed to say I've been completely self-centered with work and I haven't seen her since December last year when my Grandfather passed. I'm also deeply saddened in myself that I have only spoke on the phone with her twice since then. When I saw her last she was still in as great of spirits as ever and showed me the tomatoes that she had grown that year. That's how she was, she had lost about 6 inch's, grown a hunch on her back, but god be damned if she was going to let that or a little bronchitis stand in the way of her canning her tomatoes that year.

My Cup
When I walked her back up to her house that final time, and sat down on her chair I looked over to the table by her window and there still sat about 7 pictures of me ranging from the time I was born, to the latest one I had sent her. She knew she wasn't doing well and broke my heart when she asked me if there was anything I would like her to leave me. I told her to just make sure I got my Kings Island cup I had drank out of since I could remember and she laughed. She disappeared into the kitchen and brought it out to me telling me there was no need to wait for that. As we said goodbye we hugged each other and went through our typical dialogue poking fun at each other. She got on me about having bright red hair "You know you're gonna ruin that beautiful hair of your's Puddin'." And I told her to "Quit gardening before she broke a damn hip."

Only Photo Of Us I Could Find :-(
Unfortunately Katie died Thursday and with her goes the kindest soul this earth has ever seen. She used to sit me down on her knee and say "Now Puddin' you be good to people and they'll be good to you. But if they're not, they'll answer to me." She instilled that in me. You take care of your own, you protect your own, because that's all you really have at the end of the day. Family isn't blood, family is what you make it.

Thanks Katie,

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