KEVIN PATRICK HODGKISS
As the final notes of Prince’s NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU cascaded into the foggy air surrounding the hillside, a gaggle of geese serenaded us. The bagpiper who accompanied us for the morning, slowly walked away leaving us to experience the beautiful music that nature now segued into our day. We remained virtually silent, knowing it was so apropos, almost as if the great disc jockey now residing in heaven, known to his friends as Kevin and our family as Patty, had planned this sonic event.
In a few hours it will be one full week since I received the phone call. While in the back of my mind I knew that one day the dreaded phone call would be received yet when you receive it one is never fully prepared. With my eyes full of tears, with my hands trembling I hung up the phone and told my wife we needed to head home. The 700 mile journey north was rain filled as if the heavens felt our pain and needed to cry.
The next call was received during our journey, the call I dreaded most, my baby brother left us. His pain has ended, his fight over. His love endures, forever.
The first signs of illness for my brother occurred about 1977 when he was 25 years old. His kidneys for whatever reason stopped working. Medicine prescribed at that time was heavy doses of a diaretic which did not work. At that time he was working upstate New York as an elementary teacher, 11 hours from his home base, Mom and Dad’s place on Long Island. He drove home, never stopping once to relieve himself as his kidney function was non-existent. Arriving at our childhood home he beeped the horn of his yellow Volkswagon continuously until our father realized it was my brother’s call for help. Dad had to physically help him out of the car as Pat’s (which we called him) legs and lower body were fully swollen making him unable to walk. My brother was rushed by my father to the hospital where the staff had to cut his pants off of his swollen legs before any treatment could take place.
Diagnosed with the non-permanent kidney dysfunction the appropriate medicine was administered and after a few days my brother was home with my parents recovery. Follow up appointments were made and during one routine examination a lump was found on the left hand side of my brother’s neck. He was scheduled for surgery the morning of New Years Eve day. That night we expected to see the rockabilly act Robert Gordon. I still have the tickets. The phone call came for my brother about 6 o’clock that evening when he informed me that the diagnosis was Hodgkin’s disease.
It’s been a long haul for him since then, having had to experience not only radiation treatments but two separate extensive Chemotherapies over the subsequent years, one which was quite experimental for its time. Life expectancy was 14 to 20 years so I should be happy he beat those odds, but I’m not. Seems the chemo eventually wore away the walls of his heart, the organ not his spirit, a side effect which was never anticipated. Hey, he was’t supposed to last this long so the doctor’s of Hodgkin’s disease assumed when they administered the chemo but they never met my brother, the fighter.
Forty-one years later we bury my brother on a beautiful hillside in his adopted home of New Paltz ,New York. That man lived life to the fullest and it was obvious by the love and admiration he received, the tributes paid to him during this past week. One only had to see the line at the funeral home on Valentine’s Day no less, the church filled with people, the recessional of The Beatles LET IT BE played and sung by the pianist,and the line of cars in procession to his final resting place. Oh, this is all so appropriate and so my brother.
His lovely wife and two sons, his family and friends, we will miss him. Blizzard his dog is still waiting by the front door. The sound of his voice might be gone, his physical presence no longer to be seen, but his spirit and enthusiasm will never leave us.
God take you into heaven, Kevin Patrick, and look down smiling, knowing how much you impacted us with your love.