Wednesday, December 15, 2021

All I Want for Christmas

 I'm sure I could post my actual list, laundry pedestals for under the washer/dryer, a wallpapered powder room, an abolishment of brown trim and fans, a painting that reminds of the PIP (Pawleys Island Patrol aka pelicans...we always had a contest how many in a row we could see); but all I really want for Christmas is something that costs so very little. 

After Dad died one of  his sailing buddies sent me a beautiful photo of him looking out into the ocean. I had never seen this picture before and it described him perfectly. Several of my family friends husbands sent me texts about memories they had with Dad, hunting or traveling, and how much they were going to miss him. Another old New Orleans friend sent me fishing pictures from the good ole days and my own Preschool Teacher sent a note and a book. The note had all of us in tears, and I almost used it as my eulogy. One of his co-workers that I have never met wrote the most beautiful tribute on facebook, about what a mentor Robin had been for him. When we had our first meeting with Reverend John Ohmer at All Souls, he began telling us a story that on his first day at work Dad asked him to lunch and what he thought was just going to be a quick sandwich was a few hours of helpful tips, a lay of the land, and comradery. These stories were a side of Dad I never got to see.

When Mom died her friends did the same. I received a letter from one of her best friends about those first years in North Carolina when Mom didn't have many friends and how strong she was. Another messaged me pictures of BB and her dressed up for a school play. Her dear Jazzercise friends even showed up the day after Dad's funeral with champagne and hugs. 

People don't realize what a profound impact gifts like this have. You could never buy me another Christmas present again and instead send me a story or photo from the lives of my parents and I would cherish it forever.  

Grief brain is a real thing, and has wiped my memory of my favorite idioms and stories and sayings my parents shared with me. I'm struggling to remember the details of so many adventures they described to me over the years. And the most heartbreaking thing is I only have two recent voicemails of Dad's and they are from the hospital. I should have learned my lesson from Mom but we talked so frequently I didn't have enough voicemails to save.

So if you are in the giving spirit this Christmas, it would mean the world to me if you would at some point in the future send a picture, or a story, or either. There just aren't words to describe what my Mother and Father were like. They were movie stars to me; hysterical, kind, compassionate and loving leading characters in a life that I could only hope to live up to.

Isabel if you are out there this was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received:

Sunday, December 12, 2021


She's gone, she's gone!

He's gone! I'm so sorry Katharine he's gone!

These were the words spoken by my father and brother when I lost my mother and father respectively. 


We didn't know how critical his status was. I knew they were concerned and that morning I had texted Max who was in uber important work meetings; "I think you need to come home as soon as you can". I don't like to bother Max during golf or work so I felt terrible texting this, but the urgency of the updates deemed it necessary. He got on the road immediately.

That day Beau and I had multiple conference calls with my Dad's doctor and his surgeon. Was this the right choice? The hip had to come out, if it didn't the sepsis would kill him. But the surgery could kill him. Did he want extraordinary measures? Why hadn't he updated his living will since Mom died. Beau and I tried to make the best decisions we could on these conference calls but I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I mean try your hardest but don't break his ribs doing CPR? I don't know??

I got a call later in the afternoon asking if our family friend Alice could come sit with him post surgery. The woman on the phone was so kind as I explained through tears I was trying to get there. 

I just couldn't find childcare. 

What I didn't know was her phone call was to find someone to hold his hands as he had just died.

"He's GONE; I'm SO sorry, he's gone!"

My brother's voice was more emotional than I have ever heard it. He was indeed so very sorry. Of course neither of us were there. Beau had spent two weeks in Asheville and flown out that very morning; I had to come home due to Max's travel so I wasn't there either.

He's gone.

Can I come? Can I come hold his hand and say goodbye? Can he hear me tell him I love him??! I asked between sobs. A babysitter (a dear friend's own mother and a grandmother herself) had arrived and I was showing her the new lay of the land when the phone rang. I collapsed on the ground. Amelie was confused and Tobie herself perplexed what status update I had just been informed of.

I called Alice. It was too late. He was already getting cold. The last kiss on his forehead a week prior was my last goodbye. I didn't get to hold his hand. I couldn't get there in time for goodbyes. 

He was gone. Robin Boylan, "Beano" was gone. GONE. 

To so many of you this was months ago. To me this was yesterday. I have written at length about my relationship with my mother but to put my life with my father into words one would need an unknown amount of volumes.

I was a Daddy's girl. Our similarities were unmatched. He was who I talked to every single day of my life. We loved the same things, we hated the same things. Traditions were our cornerstone. We had weathered Mom's death together. 

He is gone.

I am not okay. If you knew him, if you knew him at all you understand this. If he ever entertained you in his home or at Pawleys or pretended he was entertaining in a place not his home, you know what this loss is like. It's monumental. 

Its been over two months and it is yesterday to me. It is unfathomable that he is not here. It is not registering in my mind that he won't be lighting the fire Christmas morning and playing the Carols from Clare CD and turning on all the Christmas magic.

It is heartbreaking that the world's best two parents are no longer with us. 

I am devastated. And somehow I must trudge on; as I have kids my own I need to turn on the magic for.

Gone. I still don't believe it. I miss you so much Dad.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Robin Boylan's Jazz Funeral Reception

 Dear Friends and Family, 

I apologize I am just getting this information out to you all. Planning a celebration of life during Covid, a liquor shortage and a flower shortage has been interesting to say the least. 

Dad's service will be on Friday October 29th at 10:00am at the Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village. Masks are required for the service so that we may seat to capacity. The service will also be live streamed in the Zabriskie Parish Hall and available to stream from home with this link.

After the service the family will go to the interment in the Garth. At this time you may head to the reception site. For those of you not attending the reception there will be a brief receiving line in the Zabriskie Hall or the Church breezeway weather depending. 

Our dear friends from New Orleans, Tommy and Linda Westfeldt, have offered to host Dad's reception at the Rugby Grange Farm. It is where Max and I were married and the site of hundreds of memories over the years of our two families. It is about a 20-30 minute drive from the Church. 

Maps will be available at the Church. If you would like the address beforehand please reach out to a member of the family. There is a field near the Grange that will be marked for parking. It is a short walk to the Grange on a gravel road and we will have a few golf carts to drive those that need assistance. 

I urge those of you coming to please carpool. There is an Ingles on Sweeten Creek Road close to St. John's Road you can regroup car wise. Also keep an eye on the weather and dress/pack extra clothes accordingly. (The most Robin Boylan thing to type ever). I suggest using Waze as Asheville traffic is something to behold and make sure you put the city as Fletcher.

There will be drinks and music and food and revelry. And I would love if you would sign the guest book that will be at both the Church and the Reception and possibly include a memory of Robin.

Thank you all for loving our Beano. 



Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Two Months to 40 (A stream of consciousness)

This was 1?

I'm having a HARD time accepting that I'm approaching 40. And by approaching I mean I'm on a bullet train and they have already announced this gigantic mid-life benchmark is the next stop. I still think I'm in my late 20's or early 30's. I swear College was just 10 years ago. 

The truth is I have not been taking good care of myself. I probably drink a tad too much wine. I don't exercise. At all. I'm ashamed of it but I can't figure out when. I used to do a lot of night work, like 8:30pm-10:30pm and I'm the one on kid bus duty at 6:52am so I couldn't swing a 5am workout, I tried those and I was exhausted by 9pm. Lunch was out of the question because I worked straight through it for the overtime or used that for errands/kid appointments/etc. And don't even ask me how many diet cokes I drink a day. 

Looking back on the past decade of my 30's I see the two greatest gifts of my life; Ford and Amelie. They have brought me more joy (and have aged me more) than I could have ever imagined. 
This was 31

I have made it a point lately to slow down and just sit with them. Listen to Amelie's made up language, hold Ford's hand coming back from the bus stop. Children, and me admittedly, really just want your time and attention and love.

This was 34

Looking back I also see my Mom's journey with Alzheimer's. I know I shouldn't but if you asked me to describe my 30's in one word it would be sh*tshow. I was raising kids and working and helping with Mom whenever I could. I might have been two hours away but I think Dad and I talked almost every single morning about BB. Her status, things she did, what we thought we should do next, lots of tears. It was an impossible decade. It was an incredible decade. But I will admit it has left me exhausted. BB's Alzheimer's spanned the entire 10 years. Her diagnosis was in 2011 (but could have been earlier) and her death in 2018.... with me just now slowly climbing out of this hell hole of grief. Last summer I spoke for an Alzheimer's event and one of the keynote speakers said something that has resonated with me ever since. Alzheimer's changed the trajectory of his family's life. Forever. All future holidays and birthdays and memories were permanently changed and altered from the disease and what it did to them. 

This was 3

The other reason I'm thinking so much about my birthday is that birthdays were a big deal growing up. Unless a huge snow canceled my party (which happened multiple times) we always always celebrated. St. Patty day themes, Mom hiding Easter eggs for all the kids, a super fancy dinner at Joe's Crab Shack with a Matchbox 20 concert. Even into my 20's my parents would send flowers to wherever I was working. My Mom's love language (besides telling everyone she loved them) was giving gifts. I think the most spoiled I ever was, was the birthday after we got married. My Mom and Dad got me my first Barbour jacket (which come to think of it needs to be re-waxed) and Juliska goodies and fancy napkins and literally showed up with balloons and flowers. It never mattered the actual gift, it was her presentation of the day. 

This was 30 

My 30th was a favorite, when asked what I wanted to do I told my parents I just wanted a good old fashioned Boylan house party with Dad's red beans. And party we did..

This was 28

I worked in an office back then and me and the "guys" (the 10 guys in the QA lab at the software company I worked for) always went out for me and Willie's bday....complete with cake and basketball brackets. Don't laugh but if you don't have an office environment your birthday is forgotten. And you might be like seriously Katharine? We will drop off a Publix cake...but it was just the camaraderie. Don't lie, you like facebook birthdays. I do too.

 Our first lunch at Roosters was with my best friend Elie and her soon to be husband and happened to be on my birthday. Some years I would just pamper myself, pedicures, blow-outs, and lunch at Dean and Deluca (RIP). Last year I bolted to Florida as it was also Mom's one year anniversary. 

This was 35

This was 37

This year I think I'm just having a girls weekend in Asheville. And maybe one before with College friends. And maybe another in May. Or I might just bolt to some quiet beach house stocked with wine and books. 

This was 27 (And a bachelorette party)

But I'm not excited about it. It's 40. I'm scared of genetics. My grandparents didn't live past 65. My mother died at 69. I cannot see in dim light. Anyone else? I hate driving at night. I have some weird thing called meibomian gland dysfunction. I have receding gums, and from the Wells pic below I must have a receding hairline. Seriously why is my hair still falling out? I thought for sure we would be in our forever house by now (Like one with a garage and a play room and HARDWOOD FLOORS). I thought I would know what I wanted to do when I grew up by now. 

Today marks 10 years at my current job (I'm writing this waiting for a meeting to start) and sometimes I feel like I'm treading water career-wise. I'm insanely grateful that I can work form home and balance kid duties and work duties but approaching 40 has me wondering if I could have done more? Have I settled for mediocrity?  I definitely thought I would have Leontine Linens (or Matouk or Biscuit bedding) by now and would have fixed what my children did to my abs. (They straight massacred them) I still don't even know what wrinkle cream works with acne prone skin and NEVER figured out how to do beach waves. Seriously, why can 14 year olds do this and I cannot.

Is this a pity party? I don't care if anyone thinks so. (Repeat that to myself b/c I do care but I'm a project)  I'm sure someone else out there feels like this and this will resonate with them. If there is one thing I am working on its to stop caring so much what people think of me. This is HARD HARD work for a people pleasing insecure anxiety ridden Enneagram 2. But I am the happiest when I am being 100% Katharine. And if I'm being the best mother and wife and friend I can be all while remaining my silly enthusiastic self, I think that is a win.

This was 28

I daydream about what Mom would have planned for this year. It has been so long since she had her own thoughts I honestly have no idea. In 2015 I invited a group of girls up to Asheville and I went up a day early to hang birthday banners. I remember being on my tippie toes with push pins in my teeth decorating the mantle and my Mom asking, what is that for? She didn't know. And I think ever since then I have made it my responsibility to take charge of that day. 

Pedis and Blowouts with BB in 2014

So to all you 1980's babies, tell me what you are doing for self care. How you are celebrating? And if you want to watch two kids and two dogs so we can run away to an island just text me.
This was 26