Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Keippelas

When I moved from Los Angeles to Oregon, I knew my ideal situation would be living with the Keippela family. Four years ago, I met Kacy as my supervisor at the University of Portland Office of Volunteer Services. The two of us hit it off and maintained what we jokingly refer to as a "secret relationship" throughout the year. I lived just two blocks away from Kacy and her husband Andrew, and spent a good amount of my junior year at their house. They took me out to dinner for my 21st birthday, tried to set me up with one of their friends, let me store all of my stuff in their garage one summer, and even let me crash at their house for a few nights when I was transitioning from one living situation to another.

Throughout my junior and senior year of college, Kacy and Andrew grew to be two of my closest friends. I learned about young marriage from them, and witnessed their dedication to each other during the beginning months of their lifelong commitment. Despite my differing political beliefs and world view, we respected each other and felt comfortable speaking openly; and when I told them about the Catholic Worker, they were very supportive. Kacy and Andrew saw me through travels to Nicaragua and Los Angeles, graduation, immense transition and inevitable heartache and my move to LA. I was present for Kacy and Andrew's adoption of their dog and first love, Oscar, the purchasing of their first home, and most recently the gift of their first child, Maxwell Alexander.

I had the gall to ask Kacy and Andrew if I could stay with them for a few months after leaving Los Angeles. Their response was immediate and welcoming, even after hosting another house guest for the three months prior. Once I arrived with my uncertain future ahead of me, they gave me a home. When I sank into the ruts of depression and loneliness, they offered me counsel. And without hesitation, they welcomed me into their family and asked me to be godmother to their son.

The expectations I had of these past months, as I have often written, were nothing of what actually happened. I thought Los Angeles was going to be the only place to which I would have an emotional connection, but the Tacoma CW dug into my heart. And now, I'm not leaving some place I've visited, or people with whom I can easily break ties. I'm leaving family... again. I'm packing my bags to venture out into a life yet to be determined, and I am saying goodbye to the Keippelas.

They are not affluent. They do not have a large home or income. They are not Catholic Workers. Kacy and Andrew are a middle class white couple who saw my need and offered food, shelter and love. They opened their house for hospitality. Once for a near-stranger, and again for me.

I share this story to lift up the Keippelas for their generosity and spirit of kindness. And I also share this story as an example of the great work an "average" person can do. Andrew told me a few weeks after I arrived, "We have that extra room and you need a place to stay." The logic was simple.

Without a doubt, Kacy and Andrew sustained me through what were months of confusion. They could have easily asked me to leave, or demanded a deadline for my stay. And while they may not define their generosity in this way, I received the grace of the Works of Mercy, and felt love that God asks of us all.

Thank you, Kacy, Andrew and Max, for everything you have given me.

1 comment:

Kacy said...

you aren't supposed to make me cry at work. :) but thank you allison. and you are always always welcome.