Thanksgiving 1998 was to be one to remember. Katherine “Kit” Scott’s parents were eagerly anticipating the holiday spent with all of their children close by, and her mom especially longed for the opportunity to finally help her daughter with wedding plans in person. Kit was flying home!
Instead, Kit’s mom received a call that is a dreaded fear of every parent. “I am sorry – there has been an incident. Your daughter did not survive.”
Having been misdiagnosed with bronchitis, Katherine Scott was dead at age 28 from a simple asthma attack while down in Argentina on business. A different kind of flight home happened, rather than the one that was eagerly anticipated. For her family, 1999 became one filled with immense struggle and sorrow. Needing a bit of closure, a year after Kit passed away, most of her family traveled back down to Argentina to plant a tree at the hotel where Kit had died. It’s close by the orphanage where she had invested time after her business appointments. How could life continue to go on without their beloved Kit?
Today, “Tot Town & Kit’s Corner” is a favorite room of many parents and children at the Lincoln Children’s Museum. I discovered this sanctuary years ago as a stay-at-home mom with young children, desperate to get out of the house. I found Kit’s Corner to be a place where my kids could play, and I could see more faces beyond those who reflected my own. It was a room filled with interactive possibilities perfectly suited for little people. Plus, the room was enclosed with a picket fence. My children were contained and could play happily while I no longer felt like the walls were closing in on me.
Initially, I never pondered the person behind the place. I definitely did not know yet that my safe haven was a sign that Kit’s family had found a way to continue on – by investing purposefully in the lives of children, just as Kit would have wanted.
Once I met Kit’s younger brothers and their wives, I finally heard a bit of Kit’s story. And I have met her nieces and nephews, none of whom ever had the privilege of meeting Kit, but her story still lives on with them. That cozy corner spot at the museum became even more welcoming.
Fast forward several years to the summer of 2013. One hot August day my family biked to Union Plaza Park. A few weeks earlier, my oldest son and I had ventured there, and he was determined to show his siblings and dad “the best park ever.” This newest Lincoln park was extremely well designed – not just filled with slides, but with imagination.
As I had just started a blog about people/places in Nebraska, I wanted to share this playground with my readers. While taking photos around the various play areas, I stumbled upon this monumental rock inscribed, “For Kit, who would love this garden, from those who loved and sat beside her.”
I wondered: Were my favorite indoor and outdoor children’s play areas in Lincoln connected? I knew that if I was just realizing this, probably very few other people knew the story about how two of the most wonderful places for children in the Capital City came to be. So, I contacted Kit’s mom to learn more about this young woman who lost her life at much too young of an age.
Katherine “Kit” Scott was a precious daughter, beloved older sister and cherished fiancée. Her travels had taken her around the world, and she left kindness behind wherever she went. Her love, laughter and contagious smile are what her family misses most about her.
One of Kit’s loves was reading. In fact, she was known to smuggle a book into math class. So, today a pile of books awaits curious children in Kit’s Corner at the Children’s Museum. And many other details of her life are reflected at the Union Plaza Children’s Discovery Center, including the motto she lived by: “Each Day is a Gift.”
What a lovely visual reminder that our time with children is precious, for moments cannot be reclaimed. Although Kit’s life may have ended on earth, because of thoughtful choices by her family, her story lives on. While I may have never had the privilege of meeting Kit, I am so glad that our lives did ultimately intersect, for her life has impacted mine just the same. Her family has left Lincoln a legacy full of more memory-making possibilities. And I am grateful.
The Kinder Porter Scott Foundation continues to make a difference in the lives of many, especially children. One of its other early projects involved setting up “The Kit Scott Therapeutic Learning Center” for kids to attend while obtaining treatment through Madonna Rehabilitation Center. This much-needed service assists students in transitioning from rehab back to school and continues to be supported by the foundation.
For more information on any of these programs or to learn more about grant referrals, contact Jean Porter Jennings at 402-309-5146.
To learn about more people and places in Nebraska, visit Gretchen’s blog at odysseythroughnebraska.wordpress.com.