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In Remembrance


Kevin Krohmer

A Brother’s Tribute

Kevin Frank Krohmer, was born October 3, 1975, when I was 4 years old. From then on, I learned the meaning of joy, love, struggle, sorrow and the power that one’s will to love can have on sustaining life and touching so many lives while hardly speaking a word.

Kevin was a perfectly healthy and little outdoorsman at a very young age. Like most rugged little Kansas boys, he loved to play in the mud and dirt and had an uncanny ability to catch huge catfish. He was enamored with his dad and wanted to help load wood in the fall, which is a family tradition. After seeing him begin to use only his left arm when carrying wood, my mom and dad knew something was wrong. A visit to the doctor and several tests confirmed an astrocytoma (rapidly growing brain tumor). This set in motion a cavalcade of events that shaped the next 30 years of life for my dear little brother; his dedicated, proud, hardworking father; and desperately devoted, loving mother. Our tough little cowboy was in for a long rodeo.

Needless to say, our little cowboy went through a living horror for the next 30 years. The radiation and chemotherapy in the early ’80s was not refined and wreaked havoc on his system, but he kept fighting. He had so many surgeries I lost count in the mid-’80s. Seizures ravaged him, and he soon lost his power of speech after relearning to speak following a stroke in his tween years. Eventually, he could use only his left arm and was lame everywhere else. He spent his last 15 years in a bed or wheelchair. Through all of this, my brother was positive and happy and had the will to live and a will to love, and that is what got him through 30 years of enduring the wrath of cancer and treatments. Though the doctors explained to my parents that they should prepare for the worst on many occasions, my brother’s unique will proved them all wrong. At 4, he explained to his mom that he was going to drive a truck like the one Cledus Snow drove in the old movie “Smokey and the Bandit” and live with his mom and dad when he grew up. He was a sweet, pure, ornery little guy who loved to tease and had such a great, loud and boisterous laugh — he was our center.

October 3, 2009, was a gift to us from Kevin. It was his birthday, and he was oddly free from the regular grand mal seizures and minimal choking episodes from eating his food. On this day, Kevy was his old self again. He never lost his humor, he smiled more than we had seen him smile in a couple of years, and he laughed when my wife called him an old man. He was in great spirits, and the pride, orneriness and champion survivor spirit was still there with a sense of awareness that was heretofore long since passed. However, that day was different — he was back if only for that short time. The medicines were not making him drowsy. He was alert and could sit up in his wheel chair and try to blow out his candles, which always was difficult. Things started to turn for the worse shortly thereafter. Thirty years after his diagnosis with the cancer beast, my brother was succumbing to the debilitating ramifications of the aftereffects and side effects of fighting for so many years. He was still positive, and I could still make him smile and chuckle. Thank you, little brother, for your gift and your never-ending will to live and love.

My best friend/adopted brother, Troy Ockerman, came to visit my family and my brother. He was one of our closest friends over the past 20-plus years and he knew that the pneumonia Kevin had growing in his lungs at age 34 was severe. My dear wife and my folks were up all night with Kevin in hospice. I held my little brother’s hand as he slipped away and rode away from us into the thunderstorm that opened up about the time he passed on October 29, 2009, at 4:25 a.m. He never was able to park his semi or tie off his horse at my parents’ house, but he sure did teach us about the will to love.

My mother ensured that Kevin never had a bedsore, and he was always cared for and cleaned daily by both Mom and Dad. As my parents aged, I helped occasionally, but Janice and Donna, who helped my mom in the later years while my dad was not yet retired, gave my folks much-needed respite from being 24-hour, seven-days-a-week care providers. These two ladies and my dear wife, Carla, and our two dogs meant the world to my brother.

Please consider my brother’s memory and honor his life as you read the other stories of courageous souls who also had the will to love and live and whose families endured untold misery to help them along in their journey of life. I challenge all of us to keep these centerpiece people in our lives just a little longer and continue the fight for a cure to this insidious cancer of the brain.

I have faith that when I am alone outdoors, he is somehow still with me, and I just repeat the words to myself that I said to him that early morning when the thunderstorm came and he left us: “Kevy, don’t worry. I promise I will take care of Mom and Dad for you, and remember that heaven is as real as the rain. I love you, little brother.”

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Kevin Krohmer