My dear cousin, Kathy Hartke, passed away on November 1st. Her mom,
Pauline, told me she’d had a knee replacement on Monday and was walking the hallway of the hospital to “prove” she was ready to go home. Her surgery was a big success, but she’d mentioned that she could hardly breathe right before she collapsed. Apparently she died from a blood clot in her lung. Kathy’s dad, Henry Hoene, and my mom remained close siblings, having lost their father when Mom was only a year old. Mom and Henry worked and played side by side until Mom married my Dad in 1945 and moved to Idaho. Uncle Henry visited our family in Cottonwood at least four times when I was growing up. Kathy and I formed a long-distant cousin relationship by writing letters back and forth and sharing school pictures.
Kathy and Chuck's wedding 8/10/1963
Pictures with the Grandmas - Grandma Hoene on the right
I remember their visit to Idaho in the early sixties and Kathy seemed kind of cranky most of the time because her Dad told her they would not get back to Illinois in time for her to attend the Illinois State Fair. It must’ve been the most important event for a 16-year-old teenager! She and Chuck choose Idaho as their honeymoon destination in August 1963. I remember thinking that visiting the Kopcyznski family was the most unromantic trip of all times. But Chuck enjoyed touring our beautiful state and meeting all the long-distance Hoene relatives.
Honeymoon trip to Idaho
Larry wrote this in the Sunday news in September 2010:
"The walls fell off of the Chuck and Kathy’s house as we were visiting. I couldn’t tell you what their wall colors were, or their couch or carpet. I do remember the smile of Dororthy Busher as she laughed with us. And of Susan, Alice, Chuck and all of them in the room. The room doesn’t matter. It was the people, the event, the stories, the being there. Karen made the comment about not remembering the Hartke’s were pig farmers. Maybe they weren’t last time (not), but I remember Chuck’s stories and Kathy’s Uncle Henry smile. You remember the warmth, the kindness, the caring. The last time I was there, I stayed at Dolores and Charlie’s, but when I came back, I couldn’t recognize the room we visited in for hours in. Everything seemed different, or maybe, just maybe I remembered the only the important stuff. Like the conversation, wine and the warmth of the company."
I remember Kathy's dry sense of humor and quick wit and my brother, Larry, captured it when he wrote in the Sunday News on August 30, 2009:
Here’s a sample: One time riding in the car with Kathy, Chuck asked her, “Kathy, in your wildest dreams, did you ever imagine you’d be married someday to a Illinois State Representative? “ “No”, she replied. “Kathy, darling, did you ever in your wildest dreams, think you’d be married to the head of the Illinois State Department of Agriculture? “No” she said again and as he started to say “Kathy…”, she said, “Chuck, you’ve never been in my wildest dreams”
I observed it again in 2010 when my siblings and I traveled to Illinois to celebrate my Aunt Sister Henriette’s 70th jubilee. My cousin, Martha, had invited us and all our Hoene cousins to lunch at her home. We sat around the living room telling stories. The older cousins told all the rest of us what “marriage preparation” classes were like in the 50’s and 60’s. Father John met with Chuck and Kathy and told Chuck that Kathy would need her own spending money to purchase “female products.” Of course Kathy embellished it in such a way that we were all in stitches laughing by the time she finished her story.
So we go from the funny to the sad stories….
Here are some of Kathy’s Emails to me: Dec 8, 2007: I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer and will probably have a double mastectomy soon. The dr. did a biopsy, and a lumpectomy and we thought we had caught it early and treatment would be simple radiation. Now, however, they discovered another tumor in the breast during the lumpectomy which had not shown up in either mammogram and it is rather large, invasive, and aggressive. So - really the best option for me will be the mastectomy. I have to see the cancer dr. again for more options but my mind is pretty well made up. I hope to avoid radiation and chemo but won't know for sure until all the reports are back.
So - all the Hoene cancer genes once again show themselves. Just a warning to all of you - have your mammograms! The large tumor did not show but a small area of calcifications did so at least there was some warning. There is no sign of breast cancer in Mom's family so I guess it came from the Hoene's after all.
I would appreciate all your prayers but otherwise I am doing very well.
Why do we always have sad news just before Christmas?
We are getting together today at Sharon Goeckner's house for our annual gathering. I didn't know when you plan yours, but wanted you to make sure you tell all your relatives to have their yearly checkups.
January 26, 2008: I apologize for the impersonal message about me but it is so handy and then all of you read the same thing from me.
Dr. Dy gave several options yesterday and I have decided to take Taxol by IV once a week for 12 weeks. Hopefully the side effects will be mild and I will get an anti nausea drug also. This drug will not harm my heart and although all the clinical trials are not finished, he seems confident that this will be ok.
I will also be taking a hormone (Tamoxifen or something similar) for 5 yrs to prevent recurrence.
Dr. did say the mastectomy was a good thing to do since they found the seed cancer and removed it. I presume that that is the primary site.
The oncotype dx test that we were so hopeful about showed me right in the middle so we still had to make a decision about whether or not to take chemo.
All 26 lymph nodes were negative and without doing anything, my survival rate is 85%. With the chemo and the hormone we will get that to 95%. He told me I am still a "young" woman. Some days that is questionable.
Now, if I can tolerate all the needle pricks to get the IV in, I will be fine. I did take a half hour nap during treatment. I didn't want to, but I just couldn't help it. Today my cheeks are really flushed. I hope that is from the benadryl.
Dolores (my sister) spent the day with me and I was so glad to have her there.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and good wishes!
I really appreciate all of you for thinking of me. Makes me feel
reallly good! One down - 11 more to go!
February 15, 2008:I had my fourth chemo treatment today. All my blood tests are normal so decided to do 12 weeks straight instead of resting. So far I have not had any nausea or much weakness or any symptoms really. The only thing that is getting thin is my hair. It really came out this week. My friend Shirley sat with me today just for company and then of course, we went out for lunch!
Thanks for all the good wishes and prayers. I am sure that is what is keeping me strong (and the Hoene -Niebrugge) stubborness helps too.
8 more to go!!
February 21, 2008: Oh my gosh - the beautiful prayer shawl came yesterday. What a beautiful surprise. You two have put a lot of work in that one and it is just so pretty.
I will remember you both whenever I use it. I can knit a little so I can appreciate how much work is in it - so beautiful.
I don't have Marilyn's email so please pass it on.I got my wig yesterday and it looks really nice. I had the hairdresser shave my head too because I have hair everywhere in this house. It is so amazing! You can just pull on it a little and it comes out and doesn't even hurt. Hope it comes back a little curly.
June 15, 2012: Chuck had his surgery and was home the next day. This morning the dr. called and said the cancer was contained in the prostate so that is very good news!!
Thanks to all of you for your prayers, calls, and concern. It is wonderful to have so many good friends.
Till the next crisis-------- Thanks, Kathy
So, life is fragile and the last half of this year has been all about Chuck’s health – little did we know the next crisis would be Kathy’s blood clot! We Hoenes and Niebrugges are a resilient, albeit stubborn people. But, we are sad. The sense of humor has been snuffed out of our lives. Our hearts feel empty. We wonder how will life ever be the same? Will we ever stop crying?
Karen Katafiasz writes in this booklet: Celebrate your loved one with your own memories and the memories that others share with you. This celebration will keep your loved one with you and a part of you. There may be a small place within you that remains hollow. Value it. This quiet, abiding feeling may be one of God's ways of sustaining the connection to your precious loved one."
Rest in Peace dear cousin!