The day before her 10th birthday when I had given her some presents and told her she could open one now but had to wait until tomorrow to open the other. Katie ignored the presents and went straight for the card on top ripping it open not only reading what I had written.."Congratulations Katie, you made it out of the single digits, I knew you could do it", but she read aloud where everyone could hear the entire card. The thoughts were the most important part for her. The presents were almost an afterthought. She was just so happy. She turned to her little brother and said.."your still a single digit".
Her sheer joy and excitment of opening her birthday present while exclaiming to Lynn..."Look mom, I'm already opening presents and it's not even my birthday yet !"
Marathon Church called asking if I could bring my peanut cart to an event (fall 2007) I suggested they also get Lynn & Katie's ponies out there. When I pulled in, the ponies were already there and Katie came running over and I got a hug. She was so happy to see me. I wished there had been more events we could have done together then there were.
I didn't really want to leave the cart un-attended (we were taking in cash) so I said OK and we started for the biggest ride. When we were almost there I showed Katie a small line was forming and I had to get back but go ahead I'll be right back. She went on the ride but came back to try to get me a dozen times that day. Sometimes I could, but before long Katie was back in the cart scooping Itailian ice and boiled peanuts.
Jul 4th 2007 I had been invited to set up my peanut cart at the barn on Hwy 14. Katie took over the cart. She had done this before. I would go inside the little store and Katie would come in once in awhile to talk but she kept an eagle eye on the cart out front. Several times she was out the door before I could even look up "Someone wants peanuts!" she was running flat out the 25 yards to the cart. She would come back to me holding the money up with a huge smile on her face.
The first time Katie helped me I had made a styrofoam 'tip jar' and wrote 'SCHOOLGIRL TIPS' on it. It got stuffed. Most times after that I noticed there was always a cup and it always said "SCHOOLGIRL TIPS". A couple times I asked where was the cup? Katie jumped like a firecracker to get one made.
Watching Katie in the cart amazed me. She has more intelligence then many adults. I noticed that she had obviously paid very careful attention to what she had seen me do, (I never had to show her anything) not just how to fill the cup, package it, use the ladel etc. but she would be certain on warning the customer the peanuts were hot and asking them if they were having a good day etc. and even improving on things a little. I heard her once say "These peanuts are so good they will get gone pretty fast. You might want to go ahead and get a gallon." She was 9 years old when she said that. She never heard me say that. The thing is, it worked. You couldn't resist Katie Doll.
That night was firecracker night. But it was to be midnight before they were set off. Since I had been there all afternoon anyway, no way was Katie going to let me go home. I kept my cart open for an occasional customer and finally the store closed and the firecrackers came out. They sold them at the store so we waited till after midnight. For kids, fireworks are pretty huge. I pulled up a chair and watched the show. Every time a good one went up, I couldn't miss that glance, that quick split-second glance. In the middle of kid's paradise, where even they could help set them off, where most kids would be lost in the spectacle and noise, there was this little kid who kept glancing back at me to be sure I was enjoying it too.
Being 60, I was pretty tired working all day and here it was maybe close to 2 a.m. The show was winding down. I went around to the front and began hooking up the cart to head home when Katie comes running (she always ran) "Tom, we still have a couple big ones to set off, you've got to come back here" I said OK and finished the hookup so I could leave when it was over,when Lynn came around and sort of apologetically asked if Katie had come to get me. I said 'Yes, she did. and I'm coming"
Marathon did a great job of setting up all kinds of kid's rides and concessions including those giant air-filled jump and slides some maybe 40 feet tall. Very expensive normally but all free to anyone that day. Katie wanted to stay in my little peanut cart helping me. I told her several times she needed to be having fun on these great rides it's not often you find them all for free. She said she was having fun now. Finally she said these exact words..."I'll go if you come with me." How could you not love Katie Doll ?
Katie was a natural entertainer and would sometimes sing just for me. She would write songs just for fun and try them out on me (others too I'm sure) This was fun stuff. I took some pictures I had of her and made a couple of CD jackets with titles like "Katie Sings Her Greatest Hits' and wrote out the titles of a dozen songs. I told her write the songs to match these titles and I'll bring my guitar and we'll record them so we can have a real CD inside the jacket. I forgot about it thinking it was just kind of neat to have made the jackets for her. A month or so later Katie shocked me saying she's still working on the songs.
Once at her house Katie took my video camera and went in another room beginning to tape herself in a mirror singing a song she had written. I didn't know where she had gone and I didn't know it for a week until I played it back and found it. Katie never said a word about it, but there she was singing to me in front of a mirror with the video camera in front of her.
One day I was in the hospital watching Katie when the nurses told me that Lynn had said that in Katie's eyes I "walked on water."
You would have thought this would have made someone feel good, not cause rivers of tears. There has never been anything in my life that has affected me more. Katie belongs to God, she has always been in His hands..
PnutGuy with mom Genie Lowe who spent her whole life caring for others never wanting anything for herself. The happiest human being I ever knew.
This is my commandment,
That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12
One amazing brilliant smile that would never leave you. As in when I told Katie "I'll be sure to bring plenty of Pina Colada Italian Ice when I bring my cart."
This was Katie's favorite flavor. I don't think by co-incidence her mom's also. Katie wanted one thing more than anything. To please Mom.
On Dec 6 2007 I was working alongside Katie when I mentioned it was my birthday. I didn't think she paid much attention, why would she? Later that night she came up to me with Brandon, Lynn and David and a big chocolate birthday cake. Katie was beaming then as they sang happy birthday. Cold as it was, I felt this warmth. It was so unexpected.
The most fun you could have with a video camera was when Katie was around and let her go. This gave me some good stuff as I was wanting to learn DVD making on my new pc. The first one I ever made I titled 'The Katie & Brandon Show' and gave it to Katie. Months later in her hospital room I asked her mom how many times Katie had watched it. She said "Are you kidding? She showed it to everyone who ever came over". I had no idea. I would have made her a dozen more. Also, I don't know of any other video of Katie, I am so glad we did them, it shows her off better than any photo ever could. She was always so animated and energetic. She was always tilting her head and flashing that incredible smile. So positive and pulling you into her happiness and love.
After the accident I would videotape Katie to email to Dr Cooper who I had contacted in N.C. about the RMNS treatments. He wanted to evaluate possible improvements. As I was editing, Katie's facial expressions just got to me one night and I just broke down. I got on my knees begging God to please help her. I said I would give my life to him if she could only come back to us. I begged to know why this could even be? Then I got up and made coffee, my hands were trembling. It was a sincere prayer. Then I started again on my pc when immediately I got an email from an aunt I had told about Katie. It was one bible verse all by itself. I nearly fell out of my chair. I had heard this verse before, but this time it struck home.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
This is what struck me. The last part of the verse. Could it be we are mocking God? Can we ask him for something and expect to get it when not only are we not doing his will, but are actually disobeying his commandments? It's been 8 months and Katie still can't talk or make meaningful movement yet we pray and pray. When we pray are we praying as one of 'them who are called according to his purpose?"
That laugh. That unbelievably affecting laugh that came so quick and easy. Without you knowing it, it was changing you. It took you to a better place. I never heard a laugh like Katie's'. It was the perfect laugh. Straight from a joyful happy pure heart that said 'I'm just me, and ain't life the greatest?' I wished that one of those days I had sat Katie down and told her straight out how much I loved her. Her mom told me in the hospital that Katie knew I did. That really helped me. I would watch her breathing a lot in the hospital. Sometimes it got pretty erratic. It was good to know she knew I loved her, but I still wish that I had told her so. Since the accident, I have told her a hundred times. in both ears, normally and very slowly. I once wrote it down and held it up in front of her eyes. I would trade everything I have to hear that Katie laugh one more time.
Right now Katie doesn't have a lot more than her memories. I pray every day this will soon change. When her mind is roaming I do know if she comes to Tom, the peanutguy, it's all good. Every moment was only a happy one. I wish I had known her longer, there would be more than there is. For her and me. If Katie thinks about me a tenth of the time I think about her, she's having some good memories.
I never had any children, it's my biggest regret. Katie made me understand what pure joy being a parent could be like. Then, what real horror could happen. Hug your child as hard as you can. Make good memories while you can. We all should know whatever you do today is forever, you can never go back and change it. Saying I'm sorry can never change what's already been said or done, good and bad, not in a million years.
Since Katie's accident, everyone of course reflects on their memories with her. Documenting memories on this website is almost like therapy for me. Everything comes back. A few months ago I asked Lynn if Katie ever used the $10 Dunkin' Donuts gift card I gave her. She said Katie had said.."C'mon everyone, let's go get some donuts, I'm buying." Everyone around the house said they liked Krispy Kreme better, but ever since then Katie's favorite was always Dunkin' Donuts.
I remember one day Katie was wearing a sweatshirt with the brand name TOMMY across the front. I had snapped several photos of her while she was helping out at the peanut cart. Katie loved boiled peanuts and I have several photos had her holding a cup of peanuts. It wasn't until maybe a year later when I was editing these for her website I realized what seemed an amazing coincidence. In every photo of her with a cup of peanuts she was always holding the cup where it covered the last 2 letters of TOMMY so all you could see was TOM. I never noticed this before and Katie never said anything. I have no photos of her with peanuts that are NOT covering the last 2 letters. The odds of coincidence must be in the millions. I've never known anyone like Katie Doll. A ten year old thinking up ways to make others happy, and never saying a word about it.
Having Katie around one day it occurred to me that I kinda wished her mom would discourage her from wearing lipstick. I didn't want to say anything and am glad I didn't, as later I realized Katie wasn't. Her lips were just so red it looked that way. Just naturally beautiful like her whole face. Once Katie was watching playback of herself on my camcorder and said "I'm so ugly." I told her no way your a beautiful girl.
I told her mom about that because I had heard Katie had been told this once by friends of her sibling. She said Katie was just bouncing that off me for response. Maybe she was just checking to see if I knew what everyone else did. I'm glad I passed the test.
At an event once I noticed the police in the parking lot and wondered what was going on. I went over to find Katie had drawn them into her world of having fun. I pulled out my pocket camera and later made a Music CD jacket entitled 'Good Girl Gone Bad'.
Thanks to Katie, even the cops got to have a fun day.
A nine year old playing cops and robbers with real cops. Katie is one-in-a-million.
Eventually I did get her a real 'Tip Jar' with the words
<--KATIES TIPS engraved on it.
Hi, I'm Tom Lowe AKA the Peanutguy. I am not related to Katie. I got to know her after I met her mom Lynn and we started doing some events together. Lynn did pony rides and I sold concessions from a cart on weekends, which I still sell boiled peanuts on Saturdays. Lynn wanted to set up next to me in Taylors and thats how my relationship with her and Katie began. I loved the pony ride thing, it seemed that all the kids were so happy it made everything fun. There has never been anything between Lynn and myself other than friendship and business. I personally would love to see her and Tony Doll get back together. Tony seems like a nice guy,but it's not my business. Without question he certainly has the greatest, smartest, most loving kid I ever knew.
We were going to partner some with the pony rides and I had started a website ponygoround.com to help get jobs, but the biggest connection between us was her daughter. Right off, just like she did with most people, Katie and I became great friends. Then it became as if I had a kid of my own. When Katie came running over I knew it was going to be a great day. Doing this website is almost like a duty. Telling people about Katie has helped me cope with missing my best friend.
Katie helping with pony rides on
Wade Hampton next to peanutcart