Memories of a nor'easter

The woman was a nor'easter.

For those unfamiliar with that word, it's what Canadians in the Maritime provinces and Americans on the northeast seaboard call those big storms that roll in from the mid-Atlantic on a regular basis.

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Those storms are loud, powerful and relentless.

Kathi Travers was a nor'easter.

Like most people, I remember the first time I spoke with Kathi. It was early 2000, I believe. I was new to Prince George, an Okanagan transplant who had joined The Citizen as an associate editor. She had called in to make a change to her Animal Tracks column before it was published.

That Boston accent was amazing and so was the character behind it.

Over the years, we argued about so much - fluoride in the city's water, having a snake in a glass case for the kids to look at in the public library, Justin Trudeau, Hillary Clinton - but we adored each other.

She took great pleasure introducing me on her 93.1 CFIS FM radio show as her "favourite P.G. fiction writer" because it was a backhanded compliment - I have written three teen fantasy books but she also meant the editorials and columns I wrote that she disagreed with.

Speaking of her show, in 2016 she had me and her dear friend (and mine) Lisa Redpath on her show to have us eat the fluffernutter sandwiches she made for us. A New England favourite, a fluffernutter is peanut butter and marshmallow creme on white bread.

She was so happy.

It was so disgusting.

We all laughed.

Kathi loved her friends and told them she loved them. She disliked other people and told them so with equal enthusiasm. No malarkey (one of her favourite words and pronounced "ma-LAW-key) from her. There was never any guessing what she thought about you or the topic at hand because she would tell you, whether you wanted to hear it or not.

She deserved a better friend than me.

She sent me two texts at the end of September.

"Very sad by news about the paper," she wrote on Sept. 19. "It has been a privilege to have been a columnist for the Citizen. Hope you are ok considering."

A week later, she texted again.

"Thinking of you and hoping that you are ok with all that is happening in your life."

She attached a happy face emoji.

I replied to neither text.

I foolishly thought I'd have Kathi around forever.

When we had lunch in July, she hugged me at the end and told me she loved me. I squeezed her back and told her I loved her, too.

That's how we should all be with our friends and loved ones because we never know what tomorrow will bring. The hellos and goodbyes are as important as everything in between.

May the animals always lick your face in appreciation, my friend. May the snakes all shrivel up and die, may handsome Justin and Barack always be smiling at you, may your Patriots win every Super Bowl, your Bruins every Stanley Cup and your Red Sox every World Series.

You earned nothing less.

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