Kristy Hodgson September 25, 1983 – April 29, 2015
Betty August 14, 2012 – April 25, 2015
This is a hard one.
It’s not about someone who lived a full life and achieved most of their goals and dreams.
It’s not about someone who fought a courageous battle and ultimately succumbed to it’s grip.
It’s about a young woman and her dog who were literally struck down in the early prime of their lives.
Kristy, Betty, and Indy were doing what we all do, walking down the sidewalk on a spring day not far from their Leslieville home. It was April 20, 2015 around 2 in the afternoon. A distracted driver mounted the curb and in that fateful moment everything changed forever.
In the end Kristy and Betty were taken.
Indy survived. Hopefully he does live in the now and all he knows are his times with Nick Siskopoulos Kristy’s partner, walks in the park, and swirling with his whippet friends.
Everyone else is changed forever.
A community was rocked, families destroyed, and there is no going back, only struggling to move forward.
Kristy was the same age as my daughter Jessica, 31 at the time. I called Jessie that evening, told her I loved her and asked her to be careful.
I’d briefly talked to Kristy in the dog parks, I didn’t know her that well, I wish I did.
I know this though, I’ll never, ever forget her.
Nick, Kristy’s partner remembers
Nick and I have spoken a few times. He readily shares his memories of Kristy from their 12 years together, sometimes pausing to reflect and collect himself. His love and loss is evident and my heart aches for everyone touched by Kristy. After her funeral, mourners gathered at one of their local pubs, hundreds of people showed up spilling into a couple of other spots close by. Folks joked about closing down the Queen and Broadview intersection to accommodate the crowd.
She was the kind of person who would go out of her way to make people comfortable. According to Nick if there was a group of people and someone was quiet and sitting off to the side Kristy would go over, engage them, perhaps buy them a drink and bring them into the fold.
She loved video games and football. “How awesome is that, having a girlfriend who loves football and playing video games?” asks Nick. They supported different teams, Kristy loved the New Orleans Saints and Nick is a San Diego Chargers fan, making for friendly competition. Nick told me about a Saints game against the Chargers they attended in New Orleans.
The Saints won and as they were leaving the stadium amidst thosands of fans Kristy yelled out “Who Dat?” the crowd chimed in, “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem saints?” Kristy smiled in satisfaction, grabbed nick’s arm and off they went.
“We always had adventures” Nick beamed and went on to remember a time they visited Chicago. They had gone into a book store and it was having a contest giving away tickets to Wicked, a show Kristy was hoping to see. Nick entered the contest and they left to go sight seeing coming back in time for the contest results.
There were 10 draws. On the 7th draw a woman who had no interest in the show won. Nick initially offered to buy the tickets for $100, he was going to surprise Kristy but then changed his mind, he was confident his name would be picked. The last ticket was drawn, “Nick Sis…cooop….?”
“Siskopoulos!” Nick yelled, then claimed their prize.
Nick and Kristy frequented the Leslieville spot “Aft” and took in many football games there. “Kristy had lots of guy friends,” remembers Nick. Sometimes he’d show up before her and they guys would say “Hi Nick”, look past him and ask, “where’s Kristy?”. He’d tell them she was on her way, “but I’m here”
“Yeah, but she knows football”
Nick looks down sheepishly, imitating his reaction, “I know football…”
Some of these guys were her pallbearers.
Kristy had just started her business
Kristy had launched her her Communication and Design business in 2014. She was nervous, as is any new entrepreneur, and worried that she wouldn’t get clients. Nick assured her she would be just fine and she was, people were contacting her from the get go. Nick attributed that, in part to her infectious personality.
Intro from her website:
“Nothing gives me greater pleasure than telling a good story, visually or in writing. I hold a Bachelor of Design and, in my never-ending thirst for knowledge, am currently working toward a Certificate in Public Relations. Pretty packaging and efficient design make me happy. I love great food, my two crazy whippets, travel, grammar, and the Saints.”
A life in pictures
Nick encouraged me to visit their Facebook pages for info and pictures. I’ve spent much time getting lost in their lives viewing many pictures of friends, family, food, Whippets and lots and lots of love.
Aside from their personal pages a memorial page, In loving Memory of Kristy Hodgson was set up by Emily Cathcart, Kristy’s childhood friend.
So much love and support has poured in.
Tori Woolner remembers the evolution of their friendship
“It’s funny, I have a vague memory of meeting Kristy the first time, probably because I am shy and have trouble meeting new people out of the blue. It was a whippet walk in April 2012 at Cherry Beach. I didn’t know many people there and was standing chatting with one other girl I knew, Kristy came up to us to say hi and introduce herself, because that is who she is. As Kristy told me (more than a few times) I was on the colder side of friendly, and it was a seemingly awkward interaction.
See Tori’s full post here
Emily Cathcart on Kristy’s birthday, September 25, 2015
“Happy Birthday to my childhood bestie, the beautiful and amazing Kristy Hodgson, who would have turned 32 today. As I write this I am thinking about your birthdays growing up; I can still remember your 8th Birthday party when we went bowling and I got my first Strike ever! That same year a bunch of us were sleeping over and your dad got up at about 3:00am and threatened to make us all sleep in separate areas of the house because we all started arguing for some reason lol. Ah, memories! Hope you have a great day up there and I will try to have a slice of black forest cake in your honor!”
Renata Simkus, Kristy’s Mom
“I loved the way the sun set her hair awash in flames of golden halo. The highlights God graced her with were quite something. A little like her, they sat quietly doing their thing until springing into light, they made you blink and catch your breath.”
Kristy got Betty for Nick after his father died. When Nick first met her at the breeder’s she was very chill, just sat and looked at him. He picked her up and she bit his nose, that sealed the deal.
Communities come together
John Martin, who trained Kristy, Betty, and Indy in agility started a GoFundMe account to raise money for the Cherry Beach memorial bench. The goal was $4,000, it raised over $8,000 with the excess going towards funeral expenses.
“I met them through training Kristy and both of their dogs in the sport of dog agility. Betty and Indy were great students and Kristy was very dedicated to ensuring that both dogs were well trained….she was also a great student and was extremely patient and loving to them. Nick also attended to take pictures of the dogs when they practiced trial agility runs. All in all you could tell they were a loving family, dogs and humans together.
Betty and Indy were taken by police to the Vets Toronto clinic after the accident. Vets Toronto awarded Nick with the annual Sweetie Pie award in honor of Kristy and Betty at their fund raiser on September 23, 2015.
Nick is very grateful to Vets Toronto for all their help and support.
Here’s the link to the memorial video
You can learn more about their charity here
A local Whippet group, Walking with Whippets, meet up a Cherry regularly. It’s quite the site with all these sleek dogs racing about and folks visiting the bench. They’ve raised money for the Vets Toronto charity in memory of the girls.
Cherry Beach memorial toy box
Before the bench was installed a beautiful toy box memorial was created by Karen Wollner-Rapoport.
“She was so vibrant and talented I had a hard time choosing between the black & gold of her team the saints or the zen beach pebbles…but her story had to be told either way.”
Unfortunately it’s seen better days and could use a little love to bring it back.
Kristy and Betty’s Bench
“Today we said goodbye to an amazing woman who played many roles in our lives, including daughter, sister, wife, friend, and classmate. I will never understand why Kristy had to be taken from us the way she was, but I can rest easy in knowing that she lived a very happy and fulfilled life when she was here. Thank you Kristy for being such a big part of my childhood memories. I will always look back on our times together with a smile. Until we meet again my dear friend…”- Emily Cathcart, May 7, 2015
2nd Annual Whippet Walk in honor of Kristy and Betty
City Condolence Memo for memorial bench