I am here today to memorialize my wife, Kate.
As you can read from all the testimonials on the memorial website which our son Thomas built, Kate was a very special person who touched many people’s lives.
She was known to many people in Alberta, Ontario, and across the world as therapist, teacher, trainer, nurse, public speaker, conference organizer, mediator, newspaper columnist and TV presenter.
She even tried a stint at stand-up comedy! All the best teachers are stand-up comedians, anyway.
To me she was my wife, my co-worker, my partner, and the mother of our three children: Christopher, Thomas and Megan.
We met through a mutual friend in Kitchener, Ontario.
She thought we were a good match.
I was doing postdoctoral Work at the University of Waterloo in chemistry and physics.
Kate always joked we had good chemistry with each other.
On our second date Kate invited me to a staff party at Stonehenge Therapeutic Community where she was an intern.
I met the most interesting people there, many of whom thought we had been dating forever.
Kate was impressed that I could just play along.
Obviously, they saw a special bond between us.
We were married at St Jerome’s chapel on the campus of the University.
We were always very close.
We took an interest in each other’s work.
This would stand us in good stead when we become involved in promoting a plant-based lifestyle in our last few years together.
One of the most important lessons we learned was to put family first.
When we moved to Maryland after our wedding, Kate was unable to perform paid work there.
She sacrificed her career for me for one year.
Then she took on the challenge of living in the UK for a year where she faced a great deal discrimination for being an American (she Canadian) and even worse, a social worker.
I never played up the fact that she was part Irish!
While living in Ottawa Kate stayed at home with our first 2 kids.
Another big sacrifice.
Not one to sit still she taught at Algonquin College, in the evenings.
After Chris was born, she suffered post-partum memory loss.
On the way to the college, I received a frantic call from a callbox.
She could not remember where the college was!
Trying to do the right thing, she was very persistent about breastfeeding our kids.
One evening she fed Chris in an empty classroom at the college.
One of her students said she thought she heard a baby crying.
Kate did not let on it was Chris!
She also started a private counselling practice out of our home and I would look after the kids while she in was session.
Many of the clients were very poor.
One client, a nun could only $5 for an hour session.
She also appeared on cable TV every week on two phone-in shows and interviewed the then Mayor of Ottawa, Marion Dewar.
In our life together there was never a dull moment.
Shortly after we immigrated back to Canada from the UK, Kate worked at Stonehenge again for a few months.
One day in a realty therapy session, a client tearily confessed to murder while incarcerated.
Two other colleagues heard the confession too.
Several months later when we were living in Ottawa an RCMP officer left a subpoena for Kate to be a trial witness in Timmins, Ont.
When the Crown prosecutor called the witnesses, the other counsellors mysteriously went to the bathroom.
Kate provided the only testimony.
The accused looked daggers at Kate and then was sentenced to 12 years, based on Kate’s testimony.
I thought he would track us down and murder us in our sleep after he was released!
On another occasion, when Kate was working as a clinical consultant to Wood’s Homes in Calgary, we took our kids to a Christmas party.
We went for a walk with Wood’s staff and kids along a forested path.
I held onto Megan tightly while listening to a lot of f-bombs from the Wood’s kids.
After the walk I asked Kate why no other staff members brought their kids.
She said that was because all the Wood’s kids were sex offenders!
Kate was able to reach through to the most difficult people.
In 2001 Kate founded the Family School Liaison Program at Christ Redeemer Catholic Schools serving the rural area around Okotoks.
The program provides free on-site counselling to students from Grades K-12 in 12 schools.
This program is still operating and is a testament to her persistence, drive and passion and love of kids and their families in providing therapy.
The entire family was involved in supporting Kate, including setting up her new office in 2006 at Division headquarters
After just 6 years of full-time work, in 2007 Kate was taken gravely ill and finally diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension which is a progressive, terminal illness.
She was given 2-5 years to live.
We were devastated.
Within 2 months, Kate became legally blind due to drug side effects and was prescribed daytime oxygen.
Not one to lie down, Kate formed a PH support group in Calgary with me and two other patients.
She promised me and the kids that she would do her best to comply with medical treatments, as well as make a contribution to society.
One night she while was watching George Stromboulopolis on TV he mentioned the new documentary movie ‘Forks over Knives’ and how it had improved his health.
After a friend with PH died of a lung transplant at 33 a few months later, she called up one of the physicians featured in the film, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn.
To her amazement he called back – it was like the pope had called - and he was very directive and said “Kate: this is what you have to do”.
Kate followed his plant-based diet religiously.
Thirteen months later she got her eyesight back, was removed from day-tIme oxygen, reversed her diabetes and also reversed her Pulmonary Hypertension significantly.
I co-wrote a medical research paper with Kate and Dr Esselstyn which we had published in 2019.
Again, not one to sit on her laurels, Kate became an instructor in plant-based nutrition and later we set up a community outreach hosting health summits in Calgary.
Dr Esselstyn and his wife Ann were the first speakers to a sold-out crowd of 400.
Dr Essy confided to the audience that Kate was his very first PH patent.
Kate has referred other patients to Dr Essy’s program since with positive effect.
We hosted the summits for 3 more years and also hosted monthly potlucks reaching out and providing a community to fellow plant-based eaters.
Kate was part Mother Teresa – all about advocating for social justice, she was relentless, fearless, persistent and determined.
Kate was also part Princess Diana – compassionate, warm-hearted, approachable, vulnerable.
I knew the vulnerable Kate that not many people saw.
Although she was a person of faith, she was not a “thoughts and prayers” type of person.
She was a person of action.
She lived the social gospel.
She kept the second commandment: the “golden rule”.
She believed in helping the living rather than giving flowers to the dead.
She helped the most vulnerable: abused women, the poor, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, the traumatized, the suicidal, cancer patients and their families, and the discouraged.
She promoted the plant-based diet as a way of giving back after she restored her own health.
This is not popular message.
It’s an inconvenient truth, an uphill battle.
Kate loved nature, especially the Muskoka Lakes of Ontario when she was growing up.
She was a strong swimmer before getting sick.
She liked watching romantic comedies like “You’ve got mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
She secretly liked Bob de Niro movies because Bob was like her dad – the strong and silent type.
She loved deals – shopping at Winners, As Thomas would say, “why buy one when you can buy three”.
One time after she bought about 30 Nestle cheese pizzas from Liquidation World.
Above the freezers was a big sign saying, “Expiry Dates are only a Guideline”.
I asked the funeral director how much did we save by being members of the Calgary Co-op Memorial society? I think it cost about $40 to join and its open to any Co-op member.
He had to look it up.
In death, she saved about 50% of funeral costs! Kate would have been proud of that.
But she was not here for me to tell her the good news.
Often, she would reach out to complete strangers – always willing to help sort out their thorny relationships.
One time when on vacation in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho she disappeared.
We had left her in a Borders bookstore while we went to a silver-mine museum.
She was not there when we returned.
We were frantic.
We could not find her anywhere.
She was vulnerable: blind and carrying an oxygen tank.
Somehow, she had met a woman from Canmore who was married to an American man who was abusive.
Kate was helping her make an safety plan to escape back to Canada.
Kate was a friend to so many people.
She spread her compassion, her insight and her wisdom to friends and clients alike.
She was a wonderful mother to our kids, as well as a good daughter and sister.
I chose the readings and hymns to reflect Kate’s character.
The opening hymn is about creating heaven on Earth.
Kate built a little bit of heaven on Earth with so many of the people that she met and worked with as reflected in the testimonials.
She lived by the golden rule – she loved her neighbour as herself – perhaps too much.
As per the epistle of St. Paul, She fought the good fight.
She kept the faith.
She has finished the race.
Now it is time for her to be raised up with God.
I had the privilege to be married to Kate for 38 years.
We were best friends.
We were close friends.
I will miss her terribly.
May her soul rest in peace.
– Andrew McGoey-Smith