Saturday, May 10, 2008

Katie's Bench: A Mystery

We went for a walk in downtown Poulsbo after dinner last night. We ended up on the boardwalk, and stopped by Katie's bench. I was horrified to see that the plaque was missing! This is a photo of the plaque, as it looks in the bench:I experienced instant stomach-drop, near-tears, frustration and distress. I went straight to the ice cream shop (Checkers), which is owned by the man who is also in charge of the bench project. He wasn't there, so I left a message for him with a sweet young lady who was serving customers.

On the way home, I stewed about it. The boys told me "it is solvable, don't worry, it's not personal," etc. I know all of that. It was shocking, though, to know how much it felt like a desecration, to me. Like the desecration of a grave.

Katie wanted to be cremated, because she said she wanted to have her ashes scattered at camp and on the beach. We chose not to have a marker in a graveyard-type of place for her, because we felt that people (including us) wouldn't be as likely to go and sit and think about her, and enjoy the experience. I think she would be proud of her beautiful bench, which is situated in a popular gathering place, facing the Olympic Mountains, the sunset, the bay and the marina where we spent so many happy hours as a family.

When we got home, I received a call from the man in charge of the project. He told me that someone had found the plaque, separate from the bench, and brought it to him. It is in perfect condition. What a relief! He didn't how it had become detached, as the plaques are well-adhered to the benches. We discussed that it could have been temperature-related (it's been down in the 30s at night, and up in the 60s during the day), or it could have been vandalism. I explained how I feel about the bench: it is a memorial for Katie; it honors her. He understood how important this is to me, and said he will be replacing the plaque this morning.
I thanked him for calling me on his own time. Then his lovely employee called me, just to see how I was doing. She told me several times how sorry she was that this had happened. Isn't that sweet? I thanked her (and told her boss how kind and helpful she was).

I am so happy that the plaque was found, returned, and that it will be back in its right place today. (I also wonder if we need to have the plaque bolted onto the bench, but we will see how this solution goes, for now.)

Funny how such a small thing can come to symbolize and mean so very much.


Smileygirl said...

Thank GOD it was found! What a mystery though. It's so nice to hear about the good people you were able to interact while trying to figure this out. I hope the plaque can be bolted to the bench. That is Katie's bench forever.

I'm sure you've probably heard this but have you considered planting a tree or bush in your yard for Katie, maybe something that was her favorite as sort of your own little memorial that you can see everyday? A friend of ours recently lost his brother in a tragic motorcycle accident and when he's ready we're having a little tree planting ceremony in his backyard. He really loved the idea and it's something that he'll be able to love and nurture hopefully, forever. Or until he moves away but I think he'd probably take it with him if that was the case.

karengberger said...

Yes, I love that idea. Some very kind friends gave us a beautiful dogwood tree in a HUGE pot, with a lovely plaque; we haven't decided where to plant it yet. Our next-door neighbor gave us a gorgeous magnolia tree, which we planted in between our houses.
When we built our house (in 2000) both of the kids put their handprints in the cement of the driveway, and I wrote their names and the date. I love having that. They were so little (7 and 5)!
To answer your other question, YES, David undoubtedly has some Mom-isms on me! The older I get, the more there are...

Smileygirl said...

Perhaps David should be a guest blogger and share some on here!

The Engine of the Family said...

Karen, Thank you for your kind words. I will update my nieces condition on my page, but I wanted to say thank you. I'm so glad that you found the plaque, it looks like the bench is in a beautiful spot!

Julie Holbert said...


I just finished reading all of your posts on this site after your entry on Meredith's caringbridge website. Thank you for connecting with me; I consider it a "God thing". I don't know how you found Mer's site, but the thoughts you have shared on this blog have given me such a sense of connection with a mom who is experiencing the same type of grief that I am trudging through right now. We are just 3 weeks from Meredith's "homegoing" and the reality of her passing is just starting to sink in. Today I am feeling numb, but as I read your entries, I have hope that God will give me the strength to face the days ahead. Thank you!