More memories of Kathleen Bolton

This is a letter I received from a friend of Kathleen’s. It made me cry.

Hi All,

I cannot believe this, but I am writing to you again to tell you that
another friend of ours died today. It is less than a month since Marsha

passed – and today, our friend Kathleen is gone. She died in Stern
Grove
in a freak accident when a tree fell on her car.

When I first saw a report in the Chronicle, it had a photo of the
crushed car and it looked like Kathleen’s car. I called Tom and we
tried
to figure out ways to prove to ourselves that it wasn’t her car. They
did not release a name, but the dog that was with her looked a lot like

Biscuit. Then, hours later it was reported that the person killed was a

dog walker. I called her, but couldn’t leave a message because her
mailbox was full. I email her begging her to confirm that it was not
her. Bit, by bit, more news came out that fit, and then, just a half
hour ago, they said her name – Kathleen Bolton. And yes, that was our
friend.

We cannot believe that Kathleen is gone. We cannot believe it. She was
one of the gentlest souls with the biggest heart around. She was an
R.N., a nurse care manager for hospice and home care and she was a dog
walker. No, she was a dog angel. After Katrina, she personally rescued
dozens of dogs that she brought back to the Bay Area and then found
them
permanent homes. She couldn’t bear to see those animals suffer. She
gave
of her time and money to give these dogs a loving home again. She was
the best dog walker/trainer possible. When we rescued Sadie in 2003, we

were told that we should never take her to a dog park, because she
would
be too aggressive, too old to learn new things and being around other
dogs would stress her out too much. We found Kathleen, and Kathleen
took
us to Stern Grove and took off Sadie’s leash and helped her learn how
to
be with other dogs. Since Sadie is a rescue dog, we can’t leave her at
a
kennel when we go on vacation, and the only place where Sadie feels as
comfortable as at home is at Kathleen’s. She loves her two dogs, Lulu
and Biscuit. She loves ‘Aunt Kathleen’ and whenever we see Kathleen at
either Stern Grove or Fort Funston (which are the 2 places where she
walks her dogs), Sadie is very happy. She know the whistle Aunt
Kathleen
uses to call her dogs and her ears prick up and she gets really
attentive and waits for Lulu and Biscuit to appear before her beloved
Aunt Kathleen. When Sadie is boarded with Kathleen, Kathleen will call
us and tell us cute things that Sadie is doing that show how much she
is
at home with her. ‘Sadie woke up Lulu this morning to play with her’,
or
‘Sadie doesn’t use her blanket anymore (that we gave Kathleen so Sadie
would feel at home), she sleeps with Biscuit now.’ We have gotten these

calls from her in Omaha, Vancouver, New York, Cape Cod, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island. I remember standing outside the Rhode Island School of
Design when one of these calls came and leaving everything I was doing
to hear a report about Sadie.

Kathleen taught us how to acclimatize Sadie to a new environment – the
first time we left her with Kathleen, it was for 10 minutes (Sadie
jumped on her kitchen table under her window right next to her entry
door when I left), then for 1/2 hour (Sadie sat by the door but left
the
table alone), then 2 hours (Sadie walked away from the door), then
overnight, then for a weekend, and then for a one week vacation. All
that interspersed with many, many walks with Kathleen and her pack in
Fort Funston and Stern Grove so Sadie would not have such a big change
in her routine when we were gone. Kathleen preferred Fort Funston, and
I
want to know what made her go to Stern Grove today.
I remember a day, a couple of years ago. We were walking in Stern Grove

in the winter, and it was a little bit stormy and I wanted to stay, but

Kathleen got us out of the park because it wasn’t safe in the wind and
the storm under the trees. She was very adamant about it. ‘A person got

killed in Stern Grove a while back, when a tree fell on them’ she
warned
me. I want to know what cruel fate decided today that that was where
and
how she was going to die.

I think about Lulu and Biscuit, and how they survived and how they were

caught by Animal Care and Control Officers in the park. I think how
traumatized they are having seen their pack leader die in front of
their
eyes. I think about Kathleen’s partner who had to get the animals from
Animal Care and Control, confirming it was their dogs. I think about
Sadie who will not see her Aunt Kathleen anymore. I don’t understand
any
of this.

Kathleen wasn’t old. She was in the middle of her life and she was
doing
good. You could always count on her time and effort when a dog issue
was
at stake. She lobbied to have more off leash parks, she was always
there
when an animal needed her. Dogs love her. People loved her. Her work
here wasn’t done yet. I know all life is valuable, but to have her
taken
away is bitter.

Today the world is much, much poorer and if there is a heaven, it is
filled with dogs who are welcoming their guardian angel home tonight.

gerdi + tom lee

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April 15, 2008. Life, Thoughts.

6 Comments

  1. Sage Foster replied:

    Thank you for your heartfelt words. I, too, had a similar response while connecting the name, picture and circumstances. Kathleen and I worked together at an AIDS hospice in San Francisco in the early 90’s. She took care of my dog when I was unable to do so. Her spirit, passion and kindness would make her the very last person who we should be greiving at this point in her life. I very much want to be part of any memorial that may be planned to honor Kathleen and appreciate your posting. Please put me on any relevant email list. Thanks!

  2. Lynnette replied:

    I am so sorry to hear about Kathleen..She was just on my mind and thinking of her on Monday..for the resons I know now..
    My heart goes out to all who knew and will miss Kathleen greatly.
    My condolences,Lynnette

  3. Kathy Skillicorn replied:

    These are beautiful comments and comforting to read. Thank you for posting. Kathleen had/has so many many wonderful people and four-leggeds in her life. I used to walk with Kathleen on many of her walks. I remember Sadie. Jingles. Ginger. Otis. Of course Lulu and Biscuit, and Giselle.

    Family and friends are working out the details for a memorial service, and I have created a memorial website, http://www.kathleenbolton.org where information about the service will be posted. There is a guestbook. Please feel free to visit, comment, send pictures, share memories. Kathleen had an ever-expanding universe of people and communities of people who loved her. I know family and friends alike will appreciate reading about and learning more about the wonderful woman who was Kathleen.

  4. Rita Flores Bogaert replied:

    At my creative writing group today, we were prompted to write an ode. As inspiration, we read “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” by Adam Zagajewski. This poem appeared in the New Yorker after 9-11. I heard about the woman killed by a fallen tree and without knowing anything about her, I wrote this poem for her. Thereafter, I wanted to find out more about her and here I am. It is interesting that I am a RN also, we both worked in critical care and hospice. You did a good job writing about who she is as a professional and caring person to people and dogs, Jamie. Tell whom it may concern, her loved ones of my sorrow for the one who was called to pass so early.
    Sincerely,
    Rita Flores Bogaert

    Try To See Her Beyond the Tubes

    For the woman killed by a fallen tree branch
    Windy day, April 15, 2008, San Francisco
    I was not her nurse

    Try to see her beyond her breathing tube
    Remember April’s glistening days and Japanese maple’s
    new green-yellow leaves, its teeny flowers like fairies with long eye lashes
    See the arch of her brows, her fading line of lipstick
    her diamond stud still on her ear, the bruise on her right temple

    Try to see beyond the ventilation and infusion pumps
    Rows of shoes, lines of pegs, hanging scarves and bling-bling,
    the pot of hydrgeas she bought at Trader Joe’s

    You’ve seen them insert the ICP, the arterial and central lines
    her husband and daughter waiting at the door
    You’ve tasted crusty bread, antipasti, fried sage at Il Fornaio

    Try to see her beyond the bleeps on the monitor, scant amber urine in the bag
    her joy when she first counted the toes and fingers of her daughter

    When you open her lids, try to see beyond her bloodied sclera
    her pupils now blown. Her impression of Picasso hanging in Paris
    how her husband asked for her hand the hundreth time

    Beyond her bandaged right arm—her journal and pen,
    her coffee mug beside her on the oak bench under the Japanese maple,
    maroon fallen all over on her brown hair—
    flowers cast by strong wind

    Rita Flores Bogaert, RNC
    April 17, 2008

  5. Your other Godmother, Jane replied:

    Jamie? You and your sister Karla are the best Godchildren she (and I) could’ve had. She loved you so much! I can’t believe she’s gone. It’s beyond surreal, isn’t it? When I was you the other night, I saw a sweet, caring little boy, who with Kathleen’s friendship and love, had grown up to be such a good, responsible, funny and handsome boy.

    We all are better from having been in her life. I hope your Mom and Karla can make it for the memorial. I love you, Jamie!

  6. Anne Taylor replied:

    THis was no accident, I have pictures of the SAME location several months earlier showing what the same trees did to another ca, I sent them toher website today so maybe if the family is sunig the City of SF (which they should when they see a tree did the same thing to another car just months earlier that they knew about), so I just wanted them to have this evidence to help their case if there is one. THanks Anne

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