Love and tattoos
From the beginning, the power of a compelling “story” has propelled the Giving Kitchen. Here, we feature the story of Kim Brewer, served by a Direct Grant due to the death of a loved one.
Kim Brewer carries her darling husband David’s memory with her every day, in the form of an e.e. cummings poem that reads, “i carry your heart with me… i am never without it.” It’s one of several tattoos she has that express her love for him, each packed with meaning, packed with heart.
In September, Kim was at Staplehouse to take part in an interview with a cable news network that wanted to hear how The Giving Kitchen was impacting the lives of restaurant workers in need. In the moments before the interview, she hugged and chatted with Jen Hidinger, sharing stories of how they’ve chosen to mark important aspects of their lives... in ink.
Tattoos are just one of the few bonds the two women share. They are both part of the GK community. They have both been tremendously strong in the face of loss and adversity. They are both champions of helping others facing similar adversity. Both have had meaningful experiences with nature--birds, more specifically--around the passing of their loved ones.
Here are Kim’s and Jen’s words on a few of their tattoos, and on being part of the giving kitchen community.
my heart floating away
Kim: The script tattoo is the first few lines of an e.e. cummings poem “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)." A dear friend read the entire poem at David’s memorial service for me.
The tattoo on my right arm has a few little things in it that make it significant. The Roman numeral dates--the one up top, above the dandelions, is our wedding date (11/17/1993)--David had this tattoo, as well. The one on the bottom is the day David died (10/23/2016).
The dandelions represent the “weeds” that are typically hard to get rid of in your garden, but are quick to blow away the little blooms in a hard wind... so the dandelion reminds you to make the most of every day and moment you have with your loved one.
This tattoo was designed by my nephew. If you look closely, there is a little dandelion bud with a red heart (which is my heart floating away with the other buds), and there are a few birds, especially a red bird. Birds played a big part in David’s passing (cardinals appearing the day before, and a bird flew into a window the day of his passing).
I also have a tattoo on my ring finger that says, “Tu Me Manques,” which is French for “I am without you” or “I miss you.” I have several tattoos, but these three really express my love and honor for David.
The Giving Kitchen grant took the stress off David (sick people need to avoid stress at all costs) and me [when he was sick] so we could concentrate on his treatment, care and comfort. When David was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a very aggressive and fatal brain tumor, and was told that he could no longer drive or work, we realized we couldn’t make our monthly bills on only one salary. With the very generous grant from GK, we were able to pay our mortgage, electricity, water, etc. I honestly do not know what we would have done or how we would have survived without that grant.
I truly believe it made a huge difference in our lives. Since I have met and worked with the amazing staff and volunteers of GK, I have found so much comfort and hope in this dark period of my life. I am proud to be a member of GK family and will always, always have a place in my heart for GK.
He wrote her love letters
Jen: I’m encouraged every single day by each and every GK grant recipient. They are the everyday heroes that help shed such a bright light on what the Giving Kitchen is all about. Kim and I share a monumental loss with the passing of our husbands to illness, but together we are able to see all the good that they provided in our world. My hope is that we are able to continue to share the legacy of their kindness and generosity of spirit.
The photo of my grandparents [used in the tattoo on my forearm] was taken right after my grandpa was released from WWII. It was taken in a photo booth. The four lines I have tattooed near it are from a letter he wrote to my grandmother while he was away overseas. He wrote her love letters.