Dance of Love
When I opened the lumpy envelope containing Jim Kaat’s just-published poetry book, one word came to mind – WOW! Then one thought – every person after they die should be honored with such a lovely book.
Dance of Love; Dance of Life … Poetry by Jim Kaat is a substantial wow for several reasons … one being who would expect a self-proclaimed “dumb jock” to go so deep? And I don’t mean to left field.
The second reason being that the contents of Jim’s book depicts a love so sturdy and affectionate between a husband and a wife, even if we all didn’t know Kitty, we would have shed a tear for the tenderness he offers with words, and the sadness and helplessness he surely experienced watching his beloved bride of 22 years wither away with cancer.
Mary Ann Kaat passed away July 21, 2008.
It was through death when I first met her. Ken and I flew to the Kaats’ Florida home last November to attend a stirring memorial party. In their happy yellow house, Jim kept notebooks of hundreds of poems he had written daily to his beloved “queen.” He ran with my suggestion to publish them, thus Dance of Love was born, and unlike any of us, it shall live forever in a splendid tomato-red hardback book. The cover artwork is a mock of a contemporary statue on the Kaats’ front lawn. Mary Ann’s bright face bursts from almost every page as the reader watches her live, hug, swim, laugh, kiss, share, sit and love Jim Kaat right back “mutually” as she once told him.
And if Kitty’s poems aren’t beautiful enough, two surprises are included before and after his collection. Eight of Mary Ann’s family members and friends wrote their wonderful thoughts; then after Jim’s “Farewell” poem, there are several pages of Mary Ann’s notes to Jim in her handwriting. Very nice touch.
I’m still shaking my head paging through Dance of Love. It’s a beautiful testimony of marriage. And I hold true to my initial reaction … wow.
“Facing Mickey Mantle with the bases loaded was relatively easy,” writes Jim Kaat in Dance of Love, as he weighed how he would pen his last words to his wife. The following is the last poem he recited to Mary Ann on the day before she took her last breath:
Farewell my beautiful queen,
The most magnificent woman I’ve met or seen.
I look forward to seeing you again some day,
I’ll recognize you as soon as I see you;
You’ll be the one that stands out from the crowd
The dynamic outspoken one, free-spirited Italian,
Maybe a bit boisterous and loud.
You’ll always be with me in spirit, my guiding light,
Even though you’re gone from my sight.
All my love,
Although Dance of Love was produced only to share with Jim’s family and close friends, I encourage you to meet Mary Ann on Jim’s Web site.