Remembering My Mother, Alice Kilpatrick (1923-2018)

Remembering my mother, Alice Kilpatrick (2/1/23 to 2/11/18). She passed away peacefully on Sunday, February 11,  in Lafayette, California. I felt privileged to be there for her final moments. She had just turned ninety-five. 
My mother was an amazing woman. A retired teacher and school psychologist. A hospice volunteer. A staunch liberal who recently decided she was actually a progressive. A feminist. Married to her high school sweetheart, my wonderful father, for not nearly long enough, since he died before he was seventy. Survived and deeply missed by her three children, two sons-in-law, four grandsons and their partners, one beautiful great-granddaughter; and by her one surviving sibling, a brother. 

My mother never forgot where she came from. She grew up in Cleveland during the Depression, in a first-generation Slovenian immigrant family who struggled with poverty, alcoholism, family violence, and more. She and her three siblings were all resilient. They broke the cycle. They all flourished. But she was the one who emerged with a fierce compassion and a refusal to embrace a "bootstrap" narrative that never worked as well for anyone who didn't happen to be white. All her life, she gravitated to the lost, the outsiders, and the disenfranchised. 

My mother was lucky to find a soulmate in John Kilpatrick (1922-1991). She and my father raised their family in Ohio and then in Illinois, where they became active in community affairs and she blossomed in her midlife career as an educator. At the age of eighty, she left the midwest for California.

My mother set the bar high, especially for me, her first-born daughter: Excel in school and take it as far as you can. Choose a profession that has meaning and helps others. Aim for financial stability but not wealth. Find a good husband. Have children. (Natural childbirth and breast-feeding preferred.) Never tolerate prejudice or injustice. And try to lose twenty-five pounds. (Yes, you read that right. She had an odd and unfortunate preoccupation with something that was never in the cards, genetically speaking, for either of us :-)

If you would  like to remember my mother, you can play a tune for her. She had come to love Cajun music. Or bake a loaf of potica. (If you don't have your own family recipe, you are welcome to try hers.) Or consider a contribution to any of these organizations that she and my father supported: the NAACP, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Habitat for Humanity. Or make a donation to the Hospice organization of your choice. Our family is particularly grateful to Hospice of the East Bay here in the San Francisco Bay Area, who offered so much support during our mother's final eighteen months.
From the formal obituary, which can be found here

The family invites donations in her name to two special places: Hospice of the East Bay in California, who provided such compassionate care in her final eighteen months of life; and the Chicago Botanic Garden, where a private celebration of life is planned for later in the year. Current arrangements are being handled by the Trident Society in Walnut Creek, California, where Alice lived prior to her final illness.

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