I learned of Kathi Kamen Goldmark's death by text message, which arrived while we were traipsing merrily north along Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The wind was blowing hot, the sun was blazing and we were popping in and out of stores, where everything was available but a place to howl.
Then Tuesday, leaving the house for work, I pulled a jacket out of my closet, noticed there was something in one of its pockets, and pulled out a purple plastic kazoo. Perhaps I'd been wearing that jacket when Kathi handed me the chamber pot full of them - the china pot was from an antique oaken commode in her dining room - and asked me to distribute them at a party, so that every guest could join the kazoo orchestra. Kathi supervised the making of joyful noises on every stage, dragging her friends up to serve as backup singers for "Be My Baby" and feeding housefuls of cronies raucously celebrating Christmas and Passover.
Over lunch in her kitchen one day, she showed me a helmet she would pack with dry ice and wear to preserve her mane of curly hair through chemotherapy. She held on to life as she'd known it; of all the songs she left her friends, the most lingering will be in the key of C major. Oh, it was good to know her.
P.S.: Pianist Billy Philadelphia, an old friend of Kathi's, put it in haiku: "Sunday's Chron, Front Page/ Kathi would be so happy/ She's above the fold."
Causes Leah Garchik Supports
Home Away From Homelessness, Performing Arts Workshop, Music in the Schools Today