Kukula Kapoor Glastris

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How did Kuku make you feel special and loved?

Matthew Cooper
It would start with her eyes, large and lingering, gazing right at you and not the next person to speak with. She remembered everything about you and your kid and your date and your parents. She was tactile and kind. "Dear" was a common moniker. And then there was the food: The dolmades and pastitsio and curries and glasses always being refilled and a kitchen always humming. I met her when I was a kid in my 20s and she told me that she and Paul had read my Washington Monthly application on their honeymoon and she remembered some thing I'd written about Nathan Glazer and Irving Kristol when I college student. She never really forgot anything. I'm going to hold on to every memory of her.
Dean Pajevic
Hi Paul, I’m very sorry for your loss. I met her once over the phone and I remember a kind soul. So full of life.
When I flew to DC for the first time in"02 & they were living in Georgetown , Kuku welcome me with open arms and cooked this amazing dinner and drove me all around the city and show me Monticello. She was the sweetest , funniest person on this planet! She was always asking questions about my life and always focus on me . She make you feel like you were the only person in the world and made you feel so special. I will really miss her warm spirit and huge giving heart!
Anne Sheridan
Kukula Kapoor Glastris was ALL love: of books, of journalism, of politics, of Paul, of those two spectacular kids, of Chicago, of democratic ideals, of the Red Sox, of the Beatles, and to our great good fortune, of all the Sheridans; There are no words for how much we'll miss her.

Others offering remembrances and tributes have captured her qualities and what it was like to be in her centripetal forcefield of love, and every glowing word is true times ten.

Also to be remembered is how many of us fell for the considerable and particular talent she had for drawing attention away from the reality that she lived with a cruel disease that brought an x-factor of pain into her life every single day.

Given the caliber and availability of journalism talent associated with the Glastris family, Kuku would kick me for turning to David Brooks in a moment like this, but read this column introduction and tell me who you think of:

"ABOUT once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all."

That was Kukula; she made you want to be a better person. And if you couldn’t manage that right away, she wanted you to at least stay a little longer, talk more and keep eating. And for god’s sake, don’t take even a step towards the dishwasher.

She always said that in her soul she was part Irish, which makes me certain that she knows that in our hearts she will always be our anam cara, the Celtic notion of a bond that transcends time, convention and philosophy. When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home.
Brian Sheridan
When I think of Kuku, I can’t help but think of Matthew 14:13-21. That, of course, is the famous story of Jesus taking five loaves and two fish and feeding over 5,000 (with twelve baskets of food leftover.) Miss Welch and I met Kuku and Paul in Chicago in 1988. We became fast friends and over the following years we enjoyed dozens and dozens of meals together. And while we tried feebly to reciprocate, most of the fine meals were prepared by Kuku. They were, of course, delicious. Needless to say, she was attentive to the dietary preferences, idiosyncrasies, and strange eating habits of each guest, and all was taken into account. As with Jesus, the food that Kuku provided was also a metaphor for much more, as she provided intellectual, emotional, and spiritual nourishment to all who knew her. You always left the Glastris table with a full stomach and a lightened heart. She also hoped that you left with a more liberal bent than when you arrived, but that was never a sure thing.

To say that she was ever gracious and generous is not to suggest that Kuku was a pushover by any means. She ruled her dining table with a benevolent, yet firm, hand. In the early years in particular, the conversation would occasionally become overly impassioned and, in Kuku’s judgment, simply too loud and even rude. In response, Kuku deployed a couple of simple, yet effective rules for moderating the discourse. Borrowing from basketball, she introduced the concept of “the shot clock” which measured how long someone could hold forth without giving others an opportunity to weigh in. If one was pontificating beyond reason and seemingly without coming to a point, Kuku would warn them once, and if he or she persisted, she called the shot clock violation and they were forced to stop talking, at least for a moment, to give others a chance. Hardly surprising, Paul was the most frequent violator of the shot clock rule. Along similar lines, but this time borrowing from hockey, she introduced “the penalty box.” This was an all-purpose penalty that Kuku levied on someone who became too loud, kept interrupting, used profane language, or otherwise was deemed unpleasant. A trip to the penalty box meant that the offender had to stop talking for two minutes. Kuku ran the clock, so the two minutes was at her discretion. This was when Kuku was at her firmest. Having been sent to the box, there was no chance of release until the time was paid in full, and some sort of feigned repentance was expressed. Both Paul and I were guilty of many such infractions over the years. Indeed, we typically thought a dinner party was boring and rather lackluster unless we each had made a trip or two to the box.

Over the years the debates mellowed a bit, especially as the kids started to arrive and Paul gradually began to realize that I was correct on most issues. First Hope, then Connor, Patrick, and Sloan. Adam batted clean up. Kuku freely showered them all with love and attention, not to mention her abiding affection for a series of dogs and cats. The kids were weaned at the dinner table, growing up immersed in discussion of politics and world affairs. At an early age, they learned the proper sequencing of beverages in front of Paul: coffee, red wine, Irish whiskey, water.

Those meals shared together were the most enjoyable evenings of my life. What a great tragedy that Kuku’s life was cut short. We will all miss her terribly. For Paul, Hope, Adam, and Schindler in particular, this is such a heavy cross to bear. Just know that you are surrounded by many loving friends. We are always here to help and, in Kuku’s spirit, to offer a good meal.

Brian Cromwell
Two years ago I was in a bad spot in Virginia. Called the Glastris house for help. Kukula remembered me as a friend of Paul, relayed messages, gave some comfort, and knew all would be well. Paul loved her dearly.
Kandy Collns
I feel so incredibly blessed to have had Kukula, Paul, Hope and Adam as my neighbors. From the moment I met each of them I felt that I was truly at home. I was immediately taken with Kukula. Her eyes and her smile spoke to me of a deep abiding kindness that I felt every time I saw her. I was also struck by her intelligence and knowledge. Though one could easily feel in awe of someone so brilliant, she always made me feel welcome and completely at ease. She was approachable, supportive, down to earth and present. I always knew she had my back, and my son's. She even agreed to be his emergency contact. I knew she would be there for him no matter what. She gave so much of herself and truly radiated love and decency. I will cherish every minute I had with her and am so grateful to have had her as my friend.
MaryBeth Williams
Kukula and Paul lived in the condo above me on Byron Street in Chicago until they left the city due to careers and need for space after Hope was born.
Despite the lengthy passage of time and physical distance, Kukula's extraordinary spirit remains vivid today. She is the quintessential definition of neighborliness for me.

Kukula consistently included me in meals, parties and events (including Hopes baptism)....always being inclusive even when it was unnecessary.
Our lives no longer intersected after they moved but even today, when I experience a special graciousness from a neighbor, my thoughts move to Kukula. An extraordinary and rare person who graced and influenced people in the most unlikely ways throughout the years of her magnificent life.
What a legacy she leaves her children!
Nick Confessore
When I worked at the Monthly with Paul, Kuku was not only a deft and brilliant colleague, but also a den mother to me and many other editors. We didn't make much money when I came on, and we were mostly single, or neglecting our significant others, and I remembered Kuku always taking care of us like we were her own.
My wife likes to say that cooking for others is one of my "love languages," and the same was true of Kuku. She often bought us tupperwares full of leftover meatballs, or moussaka, or whatever else she had made. At the time, I was in the habit of bulk-buying "Healthy Choice" microwave dinners to bring in for lunch -- hey, they were $3.69 apiece and I was making a princely twelve grand -- so this was welcome in more ways than one. She was a big part of what made the Monthly feel like a family.
Others here have talked about her radiance and warmth, and I'll add my voice to the mix. She was truly a radiant personality: She bought light into the lives of everyone around her, along with kindness, wit, and laughter. She had the biggest heart you could imagine.
Kuku, we'll miss you, and you've left this world a poorer and colder place. But wherever you are now -- that place is is warmer and richer.
Helen Harris
You can't talk about Kukula without talking about love. Her love for the people in her life and her children's lives was tangible. You could always feel the love any time when you were in her presence. Her urge to nurture and look after people was paramount in her life and often expressed through the food she loved to prepare for you. You never left the Glastris home feeling unloved or hungry!
Amy Sullivan
To be in Kuku's presence was to be enwrapped in the warmest, safest hug--long after disentangling from the actual literal hug. I loved making her eyes light up with joy and earning her broad smile, even though all I'd done to deserve it was to be me, like so many others who felt her love. It was even more wonderful to see watch her with my kids, who understood instantly that Ms. Kuku was the very best sort of person.

I can't remember a conversation with Kuku in which she didn't ask about the kids and my parents and Noam. But as Haley said, she had a special combination--I almost hesitate to describe Kuku as so lovely and warm because it could imply she was just softness and light. I loved that Kuku could be fierce and impassioned in the service of justice.