This morning, I gave this eulogy for my dear friend and sister, Kim, at Faith Presbyterian Church in Laurinburg, North Carolina. I think she would have been laughing.
Kim started bossing me around in 1968 when she was two years old. My parents and I had just moved to Laurinburg from Asheville, and we rented a tiny house across the street from another young couple and their saucy toddler. I spent a lot of time in that house and in the three subsequent houses the Ormand family lived in. By 1971, there were four of us. Benjy and Mitch were my little brothers, and Kim was my big sister. Large and in charge, she directed us, coached us, and instructed us. She has ALWAYS been a teacher.
She taught me about marriage equality. FOR PETS. When I was in the second grade, we had a wedding for all our dogs and cats. Kim, of course, was the wedding director and minister. She allowed me to write the vows, but the boys were relegated to animal herders and flower boys.
She taught me in the sixth grade that the best way to practice kissing is on the back of your hand.
She taught me in the eighth grade how to put on makeup properly. She would say, “It’s not about hiding your flaws. It’s about highlighting your assets.”
She taught me that there are almost no boundaries when it comes to scraping up money when you’re short on cash. When she wanted a swimsuit for spring break one year, she bought a bunch of doughnuts and stood on a street corner and sold them. My favorite cockamamie idea of hers was her “Dear John” business. Kim was an excellent writer. I was always trying to talk her into blogging or writing a book. Between teaching jobs, she called to tell me that she had figured out how to make money writing. She decided to charge a fee to help people break up. For $50, she would interview you and then write the letter so that you could dump someone eloquently.
She taught me to vet my boyfriends. She, of course, would be in charge of that. Kim developed a questionnaire when I got engaged, and my fiancé (a YANKEE) failed the sweet tea question, but she let me marry him anyway in her wedding dress.
She taught me to be devoted to love, specifically that between Luke and Laura on General Hospital. But really, she was devoted to love, and she could really make you feel loved. Over the past five days, on Facebook, more than one person has written, “I lost my best friend today. I lost my sister today. I lost my oldest friend today.” She had a way of making you feel like you were THE ONE.
I imagine that she made her students feel the same way, like they were the only ones she taught. It tickles me that she ended up teaching fifth grade. Don’t you know she was wide open and had a blast with them. Her friend Jilian said, “She was the kind of teacher who treated each and every student like a member of her family– the kind of teacher they make “teacher movies” about. Her good friend Ellice said her students knew that she loved them, that she was that kind of teacher.
She was that kind of friend too. To Shane, Donna, Bonnie, Ellice, Sarah, Stephanie, Kristen, Linda, Tammie, Lindy, Julie, Suzanne, Melanie– She was so many things to so many different people. She had lots of names –Kim, Kimberly, Kimmy, Kimberly Caprice when she was in trouble with Ben, Ms. OC, or just OC. Becky, your name was always on her lips, those gorgeous red lips. She talked to you every. Single. Day. You could have an entire conversation without speaking a word. Ten minutes ago, I heard a story, and I had to share it here. Apparently, the two of you used to throw your bikes down by the side of the road and splay yourselves out in the grass so that people driving by would think you had been hit by a car.
Kim wasn’t easy, but Donna, you waded in neck deep with your daughter. You loved her well. You were a good mother. When you were sick recently, she got to give some of that back and carry the weight for a while, and she relished it. Ben, she loved her Daddy. Unconditionally. That fact never changed. Benjy and Mitch, she was really proud of you, of the men you became. The last time I heard her say anything negative about either of you, I was about seven. She did not speak ill of you. I hope you know that you still have a sister.
Cary, when Becky and I came down the aisle at your wedding, we noticed that you were kind of a greenish/gray color. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more terrified groom. I think you were thinking, “She’s so beautiful. She’s gonna be so high maintenance. But she’s Kimberly.” I was pleased that Kimberly chose you because you are a kind person who loves gently and she needed that.
Zane, you are the best thing that ever happened to your mom. When she dressed you up as a prince for your first birthday and threw a royalty-themed party, we all understood your place in the family. You were her heart, running around outside her body with a baseball uniform on. You’re surrounded by your grandparents, your dad, your uncles, your aunts, your cousins. All their arms are wrapped around you. You’re going to be ok.
One of the most useful things Kim ever taught me was that, for a woman with curves, black clothing is a must. It covers a multitude of sins. In fact, an entirely black outfit is suitable for any occasion. Wouldn’t she love this funeral? We’re wearing black. She’s the center of attention. There’s an element of drama. And red lipstick is involved. Ladies, if you have red lipstick in your purse, would you take it out. For Kimberly, the lips were her statement. She spoke love from them, she taught from them, she kissed her sweet boy with them, and they had to be red. In her honor, let’s apply a little red lipstick.
Everyone needs a little color, and everyone needs a little Kim.