Ken Hart taught me how to love people, and how to appreciate life. He inspired me to be a better person.
He was the kind of person who could help you “become” just by listening.
He never judged me, never laughed at my dreams, and never shut me down.
His way was to encourage, listen, look for the nuggets of wisdom, and find ways to laugh at the world when things did not make sense.
I remember going through a few particularly difficult times throughout the course of our relationship ( 5 + years of friendship and romance) and I would come back to the Tilden Hilton ( The street and apartment he /we lived in) and there would be a warm soothing bath waiting for me, candles, and tea with honey. He would write me love letters even when we were sitting together on the couch and he could have just as easily spoken.
He loved to bring me treasures- heart shaped rocks, interesting newspaper articles, butterfly wings, shells, photographs that were meaningful or special to him, a flower bud left next to the coffee maker with my cup all ready for my morning. He’d have music playing and we’d listen to something lovely and talk for hours on the porch about life, love, and the mystery of it all.
He was a connector.
He absolutely loved people and I was not the only one he made such thoughtful gestures toward- in fact, he could just as easily have met a perfect stranger in the market and have gotten into a discussion with them and somehow created a new friend and if he saw or heard something that he thought that then “friend” would appreciate – he’s take the time to call or send them an article, or mention someone they might like to meet. He was startling like that… you know- so loving and kind you’d kind of wonder if there was something wrong with the guy when you first met him, like, – can this guy be for real?
He was spontaneous.
He’d get it in his head that it was a beautiful day for sailing and before you know it he’d make it happen and we’d be laughing and singing and eating great food as we sailed along the bay, and he never excluded anyone- for instance, if we so happened to pass you on the way he’d invite you to come too! He appreciated each day, each person, and made the most of every single moment.
He was open hearted.
If something moved him to tears then he was unashamed.
If he felt a wash of love pass over you’d be in his arms getting a kiss on the cheek regardless of who you were – man or woman. He could find beauty in a poem, a persons eye, or an image and he’d take the time to read it to you out loud, Approach a perfect stranger and tell them “hey, I love your scarf” or go sit in his red truck down by the water just to take in a beautiful sunset.
When Ken was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor he had a couple of bad days trying to understand what was happening. Then he started to take action living each day even more to it’s fullest. When the tumor was removed he wore the battle scar under a kerchief but every day could still be found, riding a bike, sailing, enjoying food and friends, and having big belly laughs. After it grew back and they took it out a second time he had a few setbacks- learning how to cope with the endless seizures, how to depend on others to help him get places, do things. Still he managed to embrace the light and gathered all of those around him who he’d unselfishly connected to one another and when he passed you could not have fit another single person in the church.
That day was by far one of the most dreadful days of my life because as I sat in the pew sobbing as I listened as his life was so beautifully eulogized it hit me that he was really gone.
Life and what it was all about and how it showed up for me was beautiful and alive, and full of laughter and surprises and loving people because of Ken Hart and without him- what would my life become? I suddenly realized how selfish I sounded. My grief for the next several years was like an Ocean. I saw his image all around town- in red trucks, sailboats, newspaper articles, poetry, music, people and sunsets. My heart ached to go get a homemade pizza at Olga’s Cup and Saucer in Little Compton with him and play hooky from life to go skinny dipping…. I was angry he was gone.
Two years after his death my son Shaw Hart Rodgers was born and though my heart has never stopped aching for Ken I can see all of the wondrous gifts he has brought to my life and to the lives of so many others. I hear his echo’s of laughter in my ear and I think of the many times I would have to literally pull over the car to avoid death by laughter.
So many people are so afraid of being forgotten after they are gone- and yet I find it amazing that he is simply unforgettable to so very many of us. I think he might have been an angel.
When I am sad and down and uninterested in life – I think of him and how he lived and treated people, and especially how he loved and I am reminded how blessed I am to wake up each and every day and choose who I am and who I have been blessed enough to know.
I am inspired by Ken Hart to be the best ME that I can possibly be- every single day.
and I know I am not the only one who can say:
Knowing you has been a gift in my life and I am a better person for having met you.
I love you.