Love notes come in all forms expressing all sorts of sentiments: a classic hand-written letter or prose, a greeting card tucked away in a drawer to surprise its intended recipient, a Post-It with a scribbled heart at the end of a grocery list, an email with a secret salutation... The obituary below that ran in Sunday's Portland Press Herald, however, is the ultimate love note. Grab a tissue, read on, and then tell your partner out loud how much you care about them. We should all hope to be so lucky in love as Mary and Ken.
Mary Elizabeth Kittredge Jack
March 23,1932 - January 9, 2011
I have rarely written you in the 54 years of our marriage. We were never apart that much. Your death on Sunday, January 9th, 2011, has, for awhile at least, changed that. Leukemia took nine years to alter our lives forever. I'm supposed to write an obituary but please, think of this as a love letter my dear. Others can think of it as a letter of remembrance or whatever they want.
We met, you remember, in a small restaurant at the corner of State and Congress. Introduced by friends, when they left we lingered on. The Longfellow restaurant is gone now, so is the building. We dated and often went to Wassons Grove for hamburgers and sat at their picnic tables under the pines. That's gone too.
It was the summer of 1955 and you had just graduated from three years at the Maine Medical School of Nursing. You were class president, second academically, and had aced your state Boards. You were an RN. I was just out of the Army having visited Korea and Japan. You were pretty, smart, and fun. You had a nice family. I was hooked.
You grew up in the Willard Beach section of South Portland. The beach was your playground. World War II made for exciting times with the forts, the shipyard, and the weekly launchings. You had five brothers and sisters to play with you. You were the third of six children born to Elmer G. and Ruth Gavett Kittredge. You were born on March 23, 1932. Did you know it was a Wednesday?
You graduated from South Portland High class of 1950 and worked two years before deciding on RN training. You later worked at Maine Medical Center as an assistant head nurse. We were married in 1957 and after our first child was born in 1959 you quit to raise our family. We found we had more common interests than expected; books, classical music, antiques, boats, swimming, travel and camping. You were an officer of Maine's first dive club. You made pre-dawn breakfasts for the gang when they came to the farm to go hunting. You took to cooking, gardening and canning food. Impressive. I hope I told you that along the way.
I was trying to start a business with no money. You helped there, too. You kept your part-time job. We needed the money. Soon the boys were old enough to help and it became a family business as it is today. You-worked right alongside of us doing almost every job as the company grew to six branches and scores of employees. As a corporate officer of K.L. Jack & Co, you mediated meetings and kept us all in line as only a mother can. We could not have done it without you. Customers still ask, "Where's Mary?" I wish I knew. Wherever you are I'm sure they like you. People, dogs, and flowers always responded well to you.
We did have some fun. Remember? Europe was nice but you liked Canada better especially New Foundland, Gaspe, and the Cabot Trail. When we took our sailboat, "Runaway", south for a few years that was the highlight of my travels. You liked the Bahamas the best, I think. Your favorite was our 12,000 mile RV trip to see the USA. I'm glad we got to do that. I am enclosing the picture I took in Zion Park near the waterfall. You were 74 then ..... still pretty, still sharp, still fun, and still fighting leukemia. If only we could do that trip one more time.
Mary, I have a nice lot-at Pine Grove in North Yarmouth. It's as pretty as a cemetery can be. My parents are there. They really liked you. My father said I was lucky. There is even room for our boys if they are-of a mind to join us someday. Not soon, I hope. Our sons Christopher (Chris) and Lawrence (Gus) Jack are not far away in Greater Portland as is our grandson Ryan Jack. For your sisters Joan Fine in Massachusetts and Claire Greer in Florida it's a bit far. It's handy for Patricia Powers in Cumberland and your brothers Steve and Scott Kittredge in South Portland. I know they will visit often and not forget you.
I will never forget you, and especially our last words. You were too weak to move and had not spoken for hours, and even then, so softly. I was sitting by your bed holding your hand. It was just before dawn and I was struggling to stay awake. Weakly, but very clearly, you said, "Kenneth." I stood and leaned over with my ear near you. You said, "I love you," and raised your head and kissed me on the cheek. I turned my head. Your eyes were open and you had a quirky smile on your face. I said, "I love you too, Mary. I always have and always will."
Your grateful husband,
Oh, P.S. We are not going to have a service right now. We will do it in the spring when the flowers are out. It will be a better planned gathering of friends and family. By then we may all be able to smile once again. We'll let everyone know when & where and perhaps you can be there too, if only in spirit, and we'll all share our fond memories of you. There are so many.