Kate Schaefer (kate_schaefer) wrote,
Kate Schaefer

Remembering Kate Yule

Kate Yule played with her words, all the time. Puns and other plays on words (and she knew the difference between kinds of wordplay), capped literary quotations, Scrabble, Boggle, Quiddler: Kate was always right there with the apposite word, poem, spelling, or scrap of a play, in English, French, German, Spanish, and a stack of other languages as well.

She was a terrific traveling companion. She planned trips very carefully to make sure that there would be a comfortable place to sleep every night, entertaining things to see and good places to eat throughout the day, and she had the capacity to change gears and try something else when serendipity presented itself. She was a realistic traveling companion, too, bowing out of expeditions that she knew would overtax her endurance or her patience. I appreciate this quality all the more because I know I sometimes lack it myself.

Kate excelled at trip reports, as does David, in narrative and pictorial forms. I don't know if she always looked at the things I would have looked at, but when I saw the pictures she took, of wall tiles and small gargoyles and street patterns and the tiny subsidiary saint or demon next to the main saint or devil, it would always be something I'd want to have seen, I'd want to have noticed.

She was an accomplished aunt. I saw her sometimes in her role of actual aunt with her small nieces – not so small now – and sometimes in the role of spare aunt with my small grandchildren, also not so small now. She didn't speak down to children, and she didn't assume that any two children would have identical interests. She was a treat aunt, not an obligation aunt.

Kate and I were both Kathryns who went by Kate, though neither of us grew up that way. I remember her telling me that she changed her name legally when she and David got married, but I am pretty sure I remember it in an oddly wrong way, because I remember her telling me that before Glenn and I got married, and I'm also pretty sure we got married before David and Kate did.

Glenn and I dined with Kate and David in many states and three countries. We played Mille Bornes with them in France and imitated elephant seals with them in California. We were not close friends at first, because we did not live in the same city and saw each other at long intervals. We knew each other over many years, which is its own kind of closeness, and we saw each other during some difficult times, which builds more closeness. Kate and David met Glenn's daughter Sam first in a completely separate context from us and our science fiction conventions, at a gay square dancing event, and they became friends as well (hence the spare aunt role).

Writing a remembrance like this is an effort to grab at memories and fix them, grab the right fragments of Kateness to keep in my head so that I will not lose this person I care about now that she's gone, and it's a losing effort. I want an anecdote about Kate's fierceness, her kindness and generosity, her wit, her perspicuity, her writing. What comes to mind is a trivial exchange with Kate and Maureen Speller about bletted medlars and crottled greeps a year ago, not at all what I'm looking for. This will have to do for now.


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