Written by Bryan Finnigan
Kathleen Capper is full of life. Her eyes and spirit are still filled with wonder and appreciation for everything that surrounds her. Kathleen and I sat outside on a perfect San Diego sunny day and just as we sat down together she was excited to point out all the plants and flowers that make up the picturesque landscape of the sun-dappled courtyard.
“Isn’t it beautiful!..My friend who takes care of this place does such a wonderful job. Absolutely beautiful….those plants over there. I don’t like it when people tromp all over the flowers…..”
New York city can be a hard and rough place to live; and to make a living in the arts can be an even tougher road in a town that either makes you or breaks you. Kathleen was one of the few who made it through, unbroken. Born and raised in New York city Kathleen worked her way through life as a professional dancer.
“I only worked the top clubs….great bands….great food…..only the best. In the beginning I worked parties and other jobs, you know…trying to make sense of things. My brother was in the military and he used to borrow the company car so I could get to all of my jobs.” Kathleen said with a laugh. “There he was standing at the back of the club in full uniform, watching me dance. He never missed a show. My mother and I used to worry that he would get in trouble for using the company car but he kept saying, ‘Be cool, little sister.’ He loved his little sister. Always protective.”
Kathleen’s dancing career started early in life at school as well as the front room of her house. Her father filled their home with music and his extensive record collection would provide Kathleen and her sister hours of accompaniment as they danced their way around the front room, honing their craft and style.
“My father worked with cars when I was little. He was one hundred percent Sicilian. And my mother was Irish as “patty’s pig” they used to say. She worked in the home and was a great cook. Everyone loved my mother. She made the best chocolate cake…They always made it work. They would say ‘I don’t know how this is working out but it’s working out.’”
Kathleen’s career took her from club to club and her life was surrounded by musicians, writers, artists as she danced her way in clubs and recitals. It was during this time she met her husband with whom she would eventually start a family of her own.
“I have a very good husband. When we met we both knew that we had something. Both of my children are wonderful. The kids are very bright. They appreciate all things that come from the heart…Children are curious, and full of intelligence. They’re not logs just sitting around. Sometimes they’ll let you speak….We all really love each other. I had a wonderful time raising a family – the happiest time in my life.”
“What’s the secret?” I asked Kathleen.
“What do you mean?” she said.
“You know, THE secret.”
“Love.” she said. “True love…Children see it in everything around them. From here to that flower pot over there.”
We sat in the sunny courtyard a talked until music started in the other room. Instinct or curiosity Kathleen was ready to move on. As she stood up from her chair I offered my arm and we slowly walked back inside where a group of people were sitting and listening to music. I said ‘good-bye’ and left Kathleen to find her seat with the others. As I was leaving I looked over to find her making her way over to her seat, by dancing with one of the staff members.
Some flowers may get tromped on, but once in awhile a flower can be so beautiful and full of life that you have no choice but stop and take in its beauty. Sometimes asking it to dance.
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