without Les Kellogg. My sweet stepfather, my mother’s husband, passed away on Monday. He was two weeks shy of 97. We had the funeral yesterday, and I was glad for the opportunity to speak. I’d like to share what I said here:
“My mother’s words, a while after my father had died, were ‘I feel like I’m living half a life now.’ She wasn’t complaining, just stating facts, letting us know about widowhood. Some time after that she started dating Les, and after they’d dated a little while I asked if she still felt that way, like it was half a life. I already knew the answer, I could see the change in her face, in her demeanor. She confirmed what I knew, she was leading a full life, Les had put joy back in her life. And she most certainly did the same for Les.
Karleen and Les were very much in love, they completed and complimented each other. From short trips to the Elks for dinner to an annual road trip to Florida to escape the snow, they always enjoyed their time together.
Our family didn’t meet Les until he was an old man. I don’t know what kind of father he was, what kind of businessman he was, or even what color his snowy white hair had been. But I did know Les.
Les has been very kind and generous to us. I will always love him for taking care of my mother, for dancing with her at my wedding, for being a gentleman, and a gentle man. I must credit my sister for the very best description of Les. Jane has always said of Les, “what a lovely, lovely man”.
Les loved to fly, loved to play golf, and loved to play poker. Our family watched as age took each of his joys away, one by one. This will, and is, happening to all of us who have the luxury of living long enough. But Jane and mom and I will always remember him flying every chance he got, cursing his golf stroke, and mostly losing at poker.
There is something I’d like to do with all of you right now, but I can’t, this isn’t the place. So I’m going to ask you all to do me a big favor. Sometime this week I want you to go to your kitchen cupboard and find a glass. Make it a nice glass, one you like, one that feels good in your hand. Then put something you really enjoy in that glass. It can be wine, or beer, chocolate milk or soda pop, it doesn’t matter, but make it something you really like. Since we are talking about Les, the appropriate thing would be Dewer’s and water, but Les would want you to enjoy yourself, so make it something you are quite fond of. I think I’ll go for gin and tonic. Once you’ve got that done, hold that glass up to the light, and say this: ‘To Lester Kellogg, a truly lovely man.’ Then enjoy the hell out of that drink.”