If there is a heaven, Kevin Kaminski is up there now, sitting at a bar, a ceiling of twinkling stars above, a floor of pillowy clouds below, a glass of Seven-and-Seven in one hand, and Mickey Rooney reaching from the next stool to shake the other.
“Pleasure to meet you,’’ Mickey says. “Heard you name-dropping me. Gotta say, good comedy.’’
I know what you’re thinking:
Mickey Rooney? The Hollywood heartthrob from the Andy Hardy movies of Tinsel Town’s black-and-white glory days?
What in the name of TCM did Mickey Rooney mean to Kevin Kaminski?
Big laughs. Self-deprecating humor. A nod to Kevin’s endless one-liners referencing old TV shows and actors spanning the lists from A-to-B.
Kevin was married and divorced four times, remaining friends with all four exes. Still, he couldn’t resist the comedic material, always joking about his quest to catch legendary marrying man Mickey, a six-time divorcee.
Nobody made me laugh harder than Kevin. Humor was a special gift he gave to his many friends. You couldn’t get enough of his one-liners and amusing observations, treats more delightful and delicious than a Whitman’s Sampler.
Kevin not only loved a good time, he was a good time. He lived life the way we all swear we should, but rarely do, always making time to travel and explore with family and friends.
He was an award-winning journalist, including his work over seven years as group editor for Lifestyle magazines, a devoted dad to his three amazing children, a world traveler, avid concert-goer passionate about the deep, meaningful lyrics of his favorite bands, Rush and Pearl Jam, and an excellent golfer.
Kevin never lacked for conversation topics related to his accomplished life, but if you knew him, as I did over nearly 40 years of friendship, or just met him at a cocktail party, he wanted to know about you.
He was a laser beam of positive energy piercing even his darkest moment. So it was that in the weeks after he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, he never stopped reveling in all the good going on in my world.
Thrilled about my wife’s new job. Ecstatic that I’ll soon be blessed with a third grandchild. Relieved and happy to hear that my sister’s own cancer condition is under control.
Kevin’s genuine care and concern for people and his upbeat attitude explains his devotion to writing about those who strive to serve their communities. He always wanted to salute special folks, like the philanthropists profiled in this issue.
Kevin knew his time was slowly running out, like a macabre hourglass. Self-pity was not an option. Celebration and reflection was.
He looked back on a lifetime of experiences he had packed into the last year or so. There must be a reason, he thought, that so much joy came along so fast.
At the top of the list, a surprise 60th birthday celebration trip to Europe with daughter, Jackie, and son, Jake.
Another adventure – a Florida Gators football weekend in Gainesville last September with my three sisters, my wife and me. Kevin attended Florida with my youngest sisters, Gloria and Carol. None of us had been back to Gator Country in years, and this was the first time Kevin, Gloria and Carol were on campus together since graduation.
During the game, a cherry-on-the-top win over rival Tennessee, my wife took a photo of Kevin gazing at the field from our end zone seats.
He looks intense, but at ease, his hands clasped, almost as if in prayer.
Kevin was soaking up the atmosphere, feeling blessed for the opportunity to be with friends, who meant as much to him as family, in a meaningful place, reminiscing about fun times from the past and grateful to be making more memories to cherish in the future.
Thank you, Kevin, for all the gifts from a beautiful life. The big laughs. The kindness and care. The spirit of sharing so many magical moments.
Miss you, my friend. Yuk it up with Andy Hardy.