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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Memories and Memorials: It’s Lilac Time Again in the Valley…

Dr. Gimbrere's lilacsThe house smells of lilacs this morning. Yesterday my daughter and husband came for a visit and stayed for a drizzly BBQ. Son-in-law Avi is a computer engineer and worked his magic on a publishing project I have undertaken. When I went to greet them at the door, I was gifted with a luxurious bouquet of lilacs: soft lavender blossoms surrounded by a heady nimbus of delicate fragrance.From our yard to you By coincidence I had just gathered a bouquet of purple and white lilacs from our own yard to dress up the house a bit for their visit.

Just over a year ago I posted about lilacs (“The Valley in Lilac Time…”), how they evoked for me a special fondness for redheaded girls and my youth. It is a backward spring again this year, and the lilacs are just starting to bloom. Memorial Day is fast approaching, and I will be able to gather a bouquet from the place to take to Packwood Memorial Cemetery in Eastern Washington, the old pioneer cemetery where my dad now lies. I’ll add to my own lilacs additional white blossoms from an ancient bush at the old homestead not far from Dad’s grave: a gift from here and there to dress the spot where he rests among the spring wildflowers.White fragranceBut these lilacs I take from my daughter and arrange carefully in a vase take me beyond beauty and fragrance to a bittersweet memory not long past, for these lilacs are a memorial bouquet from the yard of Dr. Kathreen Gimbrere. For many years  Dr. Gimbrere was my daughter’s caregiver and friend, and even though I met Kathreen only once—she was a guest at Marika’s wedding—I felt as if she were a member of our family, a close friend if only through our daughter’s sharing of their experiences together. At our first and only meeting I found Dr. Gimbrere to be a remarkable woman, one who loved to laugh, who savored life, the world, her patients, her calling…. We talked so comfortably, Kathreen and I, about our families, our interests…my daughter. I found her to be a vivacious, energetic lady, so engaged in life and living.

Dr. Kathreen Gimbrere left this earth last September, less than six months after being diagnosed with a virulent, aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. But as I pass that vase laden with soft beauty, pass through its lilac fragrance, it’s not lilac things that come to mind. I think of the blessing Kathreen’s care and love was to our family, our daughter, to so many lives, and to this world. Hers is indeed a legacy of love.

But the lilacs bloom eternal and Kathreen’s spirit blooms with them now, and in them, and their fragrance enfolds us in her memory.

Kathreen Gimbrere 

February 4, 1959--September 30, 2010

in loving memory

In Memoriam

 “…come back and bring a sprig of lilac.”
Raintree County,

Ross Lockridge, Jr.

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  1. Well, that was beautiful. It made me cry. Beautiful flowers representing a beautiful spirit. Thanks Dad.

  2. I was a patient of Dr. Gimbrere's and only today learned that she died. She was an amazing, beautiful person who helped me through a very difficult time in my life. Thank you so much for this blog post--I may have never known what happened...

  3. We met Kathreen when she rented a house from us while she was in her second residency in psychiatry at the UW. We enjoyed her so much and were so happy for her when she found her wonderful house to buy.

    Kathreen joined us a Water 1st event and became involved in their work in the world. Her zest for life and big heart were amazing. She touched so many lives.

    We were searching the Multiple Listing Service for another rental house to buy and saw her lovely house for sale. We thought she may have moved out of we Googled her and were shocked to learn of her passing. Thank you for your post as we too would never have known what happened. Carolyn & Scott

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn and Scott...and you're welcome. Kathreen was a blessing in our lives and so many others. She left us far too soon. TMJ

  5. Hello there,

    I'm a friend and former patient of Dr. Gimbrere. I've spent a lot of time abroad the past few years, and it has been that long since we were last together in person. Although we continued a correspondence, I haven't heard from her in a little over two years. I'm in Seattle and went to go look up her new email address two nights ago and immediately sunk to first find an obituary. I am very distraught that I did not get to say goodbye in person.

    Do you know of any place I can go to visit her? I'm hoping to do my best to memorialize her on my own. I contacted her former colleagues, but they didn't seem to know anything about a resting site.

    Thank you for sharing your lovely homage. She was truly a singular being. I miss her very much.


    1. I also was a patient of hers - and she made a dramatic difference for me -- I too was abroad (from 2010 until 2015) just now seeing this tonight - when I went to see if I could return to see her again --- so sad -- life is fragile every day is so precious -- George,