Kathleen (Kat) McCormack was born September 1, 1965. She left this world far too early, at age 53. By 2:00 pm June 27, word was getting around to her friends that she wasn’t doing well. Ten hours later she was gone. In that brief time, more than 100 people came to the hospital to pay their respects.
Kat was not a public figure. She was not a local celebrity. She worked her loving magic privately and did her best to love everyone she met. That night, as she lay unconscious in the hospital, the impact of her loving legacy shown brilliantly.
Her house was a sanctuary for friends and for strangers. Frequently she’d invite people she’d just met to sleep at her house so they’d be safe before they returned to their towns. Food was always available. She was a master creator and while you never knew what you’d find cooking in her kitchen, you knew it would be memorable and delicious.
Her mother, Linda was holding her hand until the last. Having been an Intensive Care nurse, she knew what to expect from the staff. They surprised her. Even they got caught up in the wave of love her daughter had inspired. They sang to her along with her friends. They took time to take care of the throng of visitors. If ever there has been an honest Kumbaya moment, it was that night as our dear friend lay dying.
Linda remembers her daughter’s growth, her amazing talents, and her laughter.
“Kathy came a long way from what she was as a teenager, fighting the world,” Linda said. “She turned herself into somebody that created a world of joy and laughter. Everybody knows her for her laugh. We had fun. She was a very creative person. She was a good cook. She started when she was about four years old. I used to teach her that cooking is like chemistry, to try different things.
“She helped so many others. I was unaware of how many people she helped. She could enjoy everybody else and still deal with what she had to go through. It was amazing to see the love that poured out of all kinds of individuals, including the staff. All I could do was hold her hand at the last.”
Kat was a master artist. She painted Faberge’ style eggs with exquisite detail. She made renaissance gowns for friends with no pattern, cutting the fabric free-hand, and they would fit perfectly. Her gift for creation was clearly inspired by something greater. It had to be the same source of her capacity to love.
Kat was the exclusive caregiver for her grandparents for their last 11 years. She is survived by her mother Linda McCormack, one half-brother, Clinton McCormack; one half-sister, Lorna Utley; two uncles, Allen, and Jarvis Girard; one aunt, Yvonne Ziwisky; Cousins Craig, Brian, Kevin, Deborah, Michelle, Barbara Jo, Tony and Cindy; nine great nieces and nephews; and many second cousins.
Kat never lacked for confidence. If you heard her booming laugh, you knew you were in the presence of someone who could stand their ground and probably make you glad she did. She always had a space for the downtrodden. If you had a broken heart or a broken spirit, she had the love to help you remember you’d make it.
One of her greatest joys was Sunday dinners at her house. Everyone was invited. She was aware of each guest’s food sensitivities, and prepared food for each of them. Her annual pumpkin carving party was an absolute mess and filled with laughter. The joy in her eyes came from watching people being happy.
Diana Charley remembered how Kat made her feel the first time they met.
“If you invited her to your house,” Diana said, “she would come and she would be happy and it would light up a room. I loved her the first time I met her. She was so kind. Kat made you feel good about yourself and other people.”
Long-time friend Tracie McClain offered the most accurate description of Kat’s legacy.
“She was an anchor kind of person,” Tracie said. “If she was in your life you’d define part of it by her being there. Now we’re all having to redefine a new normal. Look at her legacy. A lot of people hold her in a mother’s place. She nurtured a lot of people.”