Remembering Buzz


Every year at Christmas when I take out the decorations, there is one Santa that means more to me than you can imagine. I always take care to find an extra special place to display him; and I stop to remember and cherish the dear friends who sent him to me.

Several years ago, I became very ill about a week after Thanksgiving and ended up having two emergency surgeries which required an 11 day hospital stay. My recovery was long and difficult and it was a painful time in my life.

But a week or so before Christmas that year, I received a package from some very wonderful people; Al and Helen, who were like second parents to me while I was growing up. Enclosed with the Santa was a note which (in part) read:

“Kim, you will find in this box a Jim Shore Santa that was the last Santa Buzz gave me before his passing. ….Buzz would get me a Santa each year and I cherish them as I take them out each year. He would be pleased to know I am passing this Santa on to you.”

Helen and Al tragectly and unexpectedly lost their beloved son, Albert “Buzz” Knapp, Jr. in early 2006. While I hadn’t seen Buzz in years, this loss hit everyone in their family and those close to them especially hard. Buzz was a wonderful man and I know there isn’t a day that passes without Al and Helen missing him so much. And that’s why this Santa means the world to me. I can only imagine how hard it was for Helen to part with the last Santa Buzz ever gave her; but I hope she knows how much it meant to me when she sent it while I was so ill that year, and that I continue to cherish it so very much to this day.


I keep her handwritten note full of love tucked inside the box, and I read and treasure it each year when I open the box to display the Santa prominently in our home.

Helen and Al, I hope you know just how much I appreciate this profound and unselfish gift of love. And like you, I’m remembering Buzz today. And always.

UPDATE: Helen wrote me this afternoon and I asked her if I could share it with you all:

What can we say but “many thanks” for remembering our  son Buzz on your website.  It means a lot to keep his memory alive for those who knew and loved him and introduce him to those who did not.  His memory is fresh each day we live without him.  Santa displayed in such a prominent place on the beautiful handcrafted quilt would have pleased Buzz. 
I well remember you telling me how excited you were when you got your Jim Shore nativity scene.  When you became so ill, I knew Buzz would be pleased we gifted you with the Santa he had given us the year before he passed.  How happy  we were when we heard God had answered our prayers and you were slowing recovering from your illness.  Now you are well and blessing the lives of others with your talents of teaching others the craft of quilting.
We love you.
Helen & Al

Simply said, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love for these special people in my life.  God bless you both, Helen and Al!

  1. Oh Kimberly. What a lovely, kind and special thing for Helen and Al to do! You will never ever be able to convince me that The Lord doesn’t guide earthly angels to help those in need. Buzz must have been a very special guy to have inspired such love.

  2. Pat — You are so right; God gives us special earthly angels just when we need them most. Thank you for such a sweet comment today. You have touched my heart.

  3. Kimberly, That is so beautiful. I have known Al and Helen for years and they are the sweetest people we could ever know. Buzz was a wonderful son, husband and father and I know he is missed by everyone. To know him was to love him.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful picture and story.
    Have a blessed beautiful Christmas

  4. Kimberly – I loved reading your blog today. I remember vividly your illness and recovery as we exchanged emails quite a bit around that time, since only weeks before your illness is when my dear daughter and son-in-law tragically died also. What a wonderful memory for you to have of your friend, and I agree with you – that it must have been very, very hard for his parents to give up that Santa to you! Wow! I treasure many of the ‘things’ that I still have that were Catheryn’s and it is very difficult for me to give them away. But I also know that they are just ‘things’ and life is eternal and so those things – if and when I give them away – will and are precious also to those who receive them! I’m so glad you get to have that little part of Buzz’s things to remember him by! I am so glad you recovered from your terrible surgeries and illness from 2006 and 2007. I can’t wait to see you in March and thank you for all you did for me with your wonderfully kind emails to me at that time that I was so needy for love and support. See, even when you were ill, you were still helping others and showing Christlike love to all! Bless you for all you do and have done!

  5. Norma — thank you SO much for writing. The Knapps really are like “family” to us, aren’t they? You are right — sweeter people you could never know. The are so dear to me, just as you and Norman are, too! Love you.

  6. What a beautiful story or blog entry~
    A true Christmas story of love and keeping the memory of a loved one alive.

    thank you for the beautiful uplifting read this afternoon

  7. LynnEl;

    What a lovely note you wrote, and I sincerely thank you for sharing from your heart. I remember that time in 2006 vividly; and the heartache and unspeakable grief you went through losing your beautiful daughter and son-in-law. You are so kind to say that I helped you, but honestly? Your love, spirit, and grace were a shining light to me during dark days. I never, ever saw you with anything but love to share and even though you were grieving, you could see Christ’s love and mercy through it all. What a testimony and what an example for me and everyone around you!

    I can hardly wait to come and visit you this coming spring; I think we’ll spend so much time talking, laughing, and catching up that we sure won’t sleep much for a week! It will truly be a time of fun and joy, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it!

    God bless you and your entire family LynnEl. And please know that I’m remembering your daughter Catheryn and her husband — and you, too — right now. And always.

  8. Oh Kimberly, what a beautiful memory! The Santa is beautiful, and a gift that just keeps giving. What a special story. I’m just getting ready to go off to bed, and I’m so glad I went to your blog and saw this picture and tribute. Buzz was a special man, and Al and Helen are such wonderful people. I cannot imagine the pain they must go through everyday since losing their son.

    Helen was my fifth grade teacher. I can still remember her friendly, smiling face that greeted us ALL day everyday. Thank you for sharing this story and this picture. What a tribute!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Kimberly!

  9. Paula — thank you so much for taking a moment to leave a comment; it means so much to me, and I’m sure to Helen as well. Thinking back on all those years that Helen taught 5th grade, isn’t it amazing that she hasn’t changed at all since then? Still same sweet spirit, contageous laugh, lovely smile. While I didn’t get to have her for a teacher 🙁 , I remember going over to her classroom to “help” out when I could. I’m sure she was very patient with my “help.” 🙂

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