Leslie Kittenbrink’s Memorial Remarks

Did you ever fall in love with a 3 year old, who was not your own child, not even a relative?  Well I did!  His name was David, and I was  “wow”ed by his magical charm, his innocence, his contentment, his playfulness, and that smile!
He was always with his sidekick, Colin, but I saw him as though he was alone, and there just  for me, my friend, he was my buddy.
You see, we had the privilege at Sandpiper cooperative nursery, of being scheduled as helpers for the teacher. Each family had to participate.  For the 15 kids there was always the teacher and 2 adult helpers (be it a  nanny or a parent).

So we got to know these little people at the nursery school without their family members’ company.  I was drawn to David!  I came to quickly love him, and realized:  My God, I can’t wait to get to know his parents!  No big surprise, .. I loved his sister Joanna, always in her car bucket seat, as mom-Susan took the best pictures! I loved the three of them in the blink of an eye.

David’s relaxed, warm manner was always comforting to me.  Are you getting this…an adult who finds the kindness, warmth, and curiosity of David as soothing–so satisfying to me.  Oh yes, my Rachel got along great with David too!  After all, everyone did.  But it was especially nice for me when my son, 3 yrs older, enjoyed David as a friend.  They stayed friends all through life despite the fact that they lived far from each other.

As a child, David told his father what he liked about my son in his own words: Brad was fair about everything. Wouldn’t favor someone over what was right!  Im not telling you that to complement my son: …What kid would say that when he was a little tyke?  But David was a rather sophisticated, mature reasoner.  David could always read nuances and social cues.  A very high eq, for sure!

David came to Pittsburgh for a vacation for a week in 1993, so I quess he was 9ish. My Brad and Rachel and I were excited he was coming.  Even Doug. David had significant asthma, and Susan and Mike entrusted me to care for him, for the first time away from trusted relatives, with his asthma machine. I felt so honored! We all had a great week.  One of my most favorite recollections of that week was a trip to Blockbuster. We were picking out movies,  and he saw one that he brought over to me.  He said: Leslie, you must get this! It is so good!!!  It’s about a prison escape and all about hope!  First time a little kid talked me into getting an R rated movie.

To this day, Shawshank Redemption is my favorite movie!!  Thank you David.  You always had the best ideas! These past 11 years of difficulty, you managed them publicly as a pro.  You always were so positive in how you presented your  disease/ circumstances to others. “How have u been doing David?”  “I’m okay, Ive been through a rough patch, but I have a great new friend who adds a lot to my life!”

That’s how David was. Amidst his unbearable struggle, he always had his smile on and a great outlook.  Of course his parents and Jo lived the pain daily with him. His supportive family lived in him everyday, and it modeled so much to all of us.

I never heard an unkind word out of him. His cheerfulness, and the attitude he CHOSE made a huge influence on me, and I’m betting on you too! He was the finest example of that adage,
Life is  not about the cards you get, but how you play the hand you are dealt!   David you taught all of us that so very well.  I love you David Mulder!!  You will always live in my heart, and all the others’ who have been privileged to call you friend.

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