Dear Friends of KfC,
This is MrsKfC, and I would first like to thank everyone for the heartfelt, gracious comments on this blog in response to Trevor’s touching post announcing the death of my beloved husband, KevinfromCanada. Your tributes were so comforting to our family and friends, and helped us understand the impact this blog has had.
Several people said that although they felt they knew Kevin very well from his blog, they didn’t know what he looked like, and wished they had had a chance to meet him. So, here is a picture of the KfCs in the best of times:
And to hear what Kevin sounded like, please click here.
This is from CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers, an esteemed journalist in Canada, who followed this blog for its whole life. She is a fantastic person, and a good friend of the KfCs, but more importantly, an advocate for and supporter of Canadian literature. In this piece broadcast in 2011, she and Kevin explore the origin of the blog, and his thoughts about Canlit in general.
And for those people who said they wished they had met Kevin, I will tell you about him.
He was brilliant. He had an astonishing memory, and retained everything he ever heard or read. He was generous of spirit, and took everyone as he found them. He always looked for the best in people, and his default setting was to believe they were well intentioned and ethically motivated. He was very generous.
Most of you know the story about the Hudson’s Bay blanket he sent to Dovegrey Reader in the UK. When he told me about it, I wasn’t really surprised, as he was always giving of his time and his treasure.
He loved sending people books, especially if they had young children. He spent a long time thinking about the exact right books for people, and ordered nicely bound hard cover editions to be sent to them.
He sponsored several artists who were struggling by providing “loans” to them so they could finish something that was important to them. When they offered to repay him, he asked them to pay it forward some time with someone else.
He mentored countless people, during his career and after, and always cheered for them to succeed.
He was non-judgemental and kind. When we had our horse racing business, there was a rogue named Jake the Rake who hung around at the track. He was a mooch of epic proportions, and knew Kevin was a soft touch. Kevin put him on an allocation of four beers a night so Jake would go away and stop interfering with his handicapping. When Jake got too obnoxious (his speciality), Kevin would fine him by suspending his beer for two or three nights. Jake took his suspension very well, and on the stroke of the minute the suspension was lifted he would be back, and Kevin would pony up again. This cycle repeated itself for years. The truth is, Jake was an alcoholic whose life was seriously off the rails. Kevin recognized that Jake needed someone to be kind to him, and never judged him or tried to “fix” him. He bought him four beers a night. That’s how he was.
Kevin had a wonderful sense of humor, and could be very goofy. Whenever I went to the grocery store, the rubbish bin, to China or hiking in the Rockies, he would always mimic Vera Lynne and warble “I’ll Be Seeing You” as I left. His singing voice was brutal, but that didn’t matter. I loved that.
He was always very proud of my accomplishments, and supported me in every way in every endeavor.
His illness was a nightmare. For 17 months he suffered every single day. He never once complained, and was brave and dignified throughout. When he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, he said two things:
- “I will never mourn for the life I don’t get to live. I’ll be happy for the great life I have lived.”
- “This is going to be hard, Sheila. Above all, we have to be dignified.”
That was KevinfromCanada. He was very modest, and he would be gobsmacked by all the accolades, the tributes and the outpouring of affection.
As for me, I am so privileged to have been MrsKfC for 40 years, and I am grateful to have this forum to pay tribute to Kevin, and to give you a sense of who he was.
He loved this blog. I know he would have wanted it to continue to be a place where people can come and have genuine conversations about books that really matter. I am thrilled that this blog will continue under the leadership of three of KFC’s favorite people: Trevor Berrett, whose own blog Mookse and the Gripes you probably all know; Kim Forrester, who you also know from her blog Reading Matters; and Alison Gzowski, a gifted editor, friend of KfC and expert on Canadian literature.
These three friends are all members of the last Shadow Giller jury Kevin selected, and I know he would be thrilled to hand over KevinfromCanada to their keeping. I look forward to watching this blog thrive in its new life, and I know Kevin would too.