KfC — a transition

by

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:

The KfCs: Sheila and Kevin

 

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.

With love,

Mrs KfC.

18 Responses to “KfC — a transition”

  1. Barbie N Says:

    Sadness but happiness the blog will continue as I’m a faithful follower

    Like

  2. dovegreyreader Says:

    Wonderful Sheila and so good to hear that KFC the blog, and with it the spirit of Kevin, will live on xx

    Like

  3. whisperinggums Says:

    What a lovely tribute Sheila. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Kevin from the one who knew him best. He sounds like a lovely, loving and loved man, just as it seemed from his blog. A terrible loss for you. Take care. Sue from Down Under.

    Like

  4. Margaret Says:

    Your loving words certainly help to flesh out the extraordinary Kevin. And yet, there is so much more – I do hope you will continue to share tales of his goofy side and his acts of generous spirit. He was a treasure and his stories inspire us to be better citizens, and less hapless.

    Like

  5. Deirdre O'Brien Says:

    My sincere condolences, Sheila. I loved Kevin’s blog and although our reading tastes did not always coincide, I always took pleasure in reading his posts and the discussion afterwards. And I read and enjoyed several new authors through Kevin. I also enjoyed your participation and hope you will continue. It is wonderful that his blogger colleagues will continue. Dee from Calgary.

    Like

  6. Jessie May Keller Says:

    Thank you for this! All week I have felt an emptiness and now these words help to bring closure and happily, continuity. I will definitely be a follower of the blog. All my best to you, Mrs. KFC.

    Like

  7. Lisa Hill Says:

    How nice to wake up this Sunday morning in Australia and find this in my inbox…
    Sometimes I still can’t quite believe how the internet has re-shaped our lives so that these things can happen: from my childhood when the only contact I had with overseas relations was by letter because international phone calls were just too expensive, to a world where an international audience of virtual friends can hear Kevin’s laughter online at the click of a finger. What a great bloke he was!
    I’m so glad that the blog will continue. It’s a fitting legacy.

    Like

  8. angelesteentjes Says:

    My condolences. I’m so sorry for you loss. Here at the Hague (the Netherlands) I always found it a pleasure to read Kevin’s blog. Just as a hobby I’m interested in Canadian literature like others focus on American or French literature. It was always interesting to read his blog even though I managed only to read just a fraction what he suggested. I’m happy that the blog continues and I hope they have the same passion for books as Kevin.

    Like

  9. Slightly Bookist Says:

    What a lovely tribute to a man who sounds as kind as he was intelligent. And I’m happy to hear that the blog will continue.

    Like

  10. Naomi Says:

    It’s lovely to hear from you, and wonderful to know that his blog will continue. xo

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  11. Mary Van Nortwick Says:

    I came across this blog later than most, when I was preparing a series of classes on Alice Munro to give at a retirement center. I was struck by the thoughtfulness and depth with which books were discussed. My deepest condolences on your loss, and expression of gratitude that Kevin’s friends will carry it on.

    Like

  12. Shawna Says:

    I’m so pleased to hear that the blog will continue. Not only is it a lovely way to honour Kevin’s memory but it also acts as an important forum for discussing great literature.

    Like

  13. leavesandpages Says:

    My sincere condolences to you Sheila, and what a lovely tribute this is. Wishing you comfort in this most difficult time.

    Like

  14. annelogan17 Says:

    Beautiful words Sheila, thank you for giving us a lovely way to remember Kevin by.

    Like

  15. susanonthesoapbox Says:

    Lovely tribute Sheila. Thank you for sharing Kevin’s comments with his legion of followers.

    Like

  16. Crake Says:

    My sincere condolences, Sheila. I have just found out about Kevin’s passing today and I am shocked and very saddened. I was fortunate to meet him at the Palimpsest forum a few years ago. He was a kind and generous man and it was always a pleasure to read his blog and exchange comments. He will be missed. Thank you for this lovely tribute.

    Like

  17. Mary Says:

    So very sorry to hear of your loss. I’m a librarian and I’ve followed this blog regularly for years – reading the always entertaining and thoughtful reviews from KFC and co – With so many newspapers downsizing on space devoted to reviewing canlit – it was an invaluable resource – I particularly enjoyed following the Shadow Giller on here each year – Thank you for sharing something of the person behind the blog.

    Like

  18. carolebesharah Says:

    Wonderful tribute, Sheila. Thank you for sharing. I followed Kevin’s blog for many years. I am glad to see that the Shadow Giller lives on, though it tugs at my heart every time I see the header.❤

    Like

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