Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Gretchen Kaye Carlson Kost (1974-2017)

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | February 1st, 2017

My little sister, Gretchen Kaye Carlson Kost, died Monday, January 30, 2017. A dearly cherished daughter and sibling, wife and mother, cousin and conspirator, she was a friend first, a friend often, and a friend always.

She was also a displayer of dimples, which as a kid she often labored to hide, scowling in photographs when not in the mood or of the inclination to be told what to do, which was pretty much always. But when the grownups were smart enough not to push, that smile was dazzling, and it was usually accompanied by peals of laughter. Engineered in part by repeated listens to “Free to Be… You and Me,” she established an early, unflagging sense of egalitarianism that extended to our beloved little brother Grady, guaranteeing that any Cracker Jack, Smurfs, or comic books were carefully and equally divided and distributed.

Friday night sleepovers with Grandpa and Grandma Jones were our sweetest reward. Fuzzy red footie pajamas were zipped up sometime between the beginning of “The Dukes of Hazzard” and the end of “Dallas,” and if we could keep our eyes open we were allowed to stay up late for Johnny Carson, joining Grandpa as he chuckled at the master’s perfect timing. The next morning, Grandma would set out the tools to fry up homemade donuts, and Gretchen – nicknamed “Dutch” and “Dutchie” by Grandma, which our mom detested but I secretly loved – would run point until the entire dining room table was covered with cooling rows of delectable golden sinkers.

With two brothers and no sisters, Gretchen forged special bonds with her closest confidante Heather and her cousin Andrea. Over the course of countless slumber parties, Heather and Gretchen developed that shorthand communication that evolves into a private language. At the lake cabin, Gretchen reassured Andrea, who we liked to acknowledge as our “genetic half-sister” because our moms are identical twins, that an inflatable raft ride would be safe by measuring Andrea’s height against the oar to show that she would never be in over her head. The thoughtfulness of that gesture leaves an impression.

Gretchen knew no equal at Ms. Pac-Man, often drawing a crowd at the Pirate’s Den or Pizza Hut while she effortlessly chomped her way through board after board on a single quarter. Was it her mathematically inclined mind or her thriftiness that drove her coin-op success? I suspect a bit of each.

My sister was a swift assembler of jigsaw puzzles, outpacing anyone at the table with a ratio of four or five pieces to one while filling in colorful montages of songbirds, great apes, or Muppets. One Christmas, our rambunctious dachshund Tandy managed to devour the entire contents of a sizable box of Turtles caramel pecan clusters recently unwrapped by Gretchen. My highly subjective memory of her reaction recalls equal parts fury at the consumption of her gift and genuine concern for the well-being of one rather sick wiener dog.

For the earliest and most formative years of my life, Gretchen was my steady and constant companion. When I was Darth Vader for Halloween, she was Darth Vader for Halloween, and that made me feel good. Of all my life’s decisions, one of which I am very proud is that I never sent her away to go play with someone else. Instead, she tagged along on every neighborhood adventure – matching or besting the older boys who climbed trees, built forts, raced banana-seaters with playing cards in the spokes, inflated thick wads of pink bubblegum, buried and eulogized departed squirrels, and scrambled into the bookmobile for fresh literature.

We compared reading notes often, and Gretchen was lit from within whenever she encountered a female protagonist who modeled grace, compassion, and character in the face of inequitable and unjust patriarchy. We thrilled at the dignity of Hester Prynne and delighted in the violent gesticulations and extravagant contortions of Hester’s little imp Pearl. We discussed the sensational Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, who would later inspire the name of Gretchen’s life-saving beagle, agreeing that the two finest words in American fiction might just be “Hey, Boo.”

Required by our mother to attend water safety lessons, we tuned our ears to the radio pop of the late 1970s and early 1980s that was played by the college-age staff at the Concordia pool, ever after identifying certain singles as “swimming songs.” We rocked down to Electric Avenue with Eddy Grant, we tumbled for Boy George and Culture Club, we looked out across the nighttime with Michael Jackson, we got delirious whenever Prince was near, we stood there with our backs against the record machine and jumped with Van Halen, we waited for Hall & Oates when the light was fading fast, and when we heard the angel voices of Mr. Mercury and Mr. Bowie, we turned away from it all like a blind man.

The preceding words came more quickly than I expected, but for Gretchen’s husband Rob and their children Hattie and Beck, I am afraid that none will suffice.

Gretchen, as soon as possible and in your honor, I will eat my fair share of a large pepperoni and mushroom from Duane’s House of Pizza.

See you around.  

Recently in:

Katrina Klett grew up running in fields with bees stinging her bare feet. Her parents constantly reminded her to put on shoes, but she rarely listened. Today, the family company she helps run in Jamestown, Klett Beekeeping, has…

How long have you had your computer monitor? Is it time to get a new one? How do you know if it is time to get a new one? Many people got their monitor bundled with their computer. I don’t have too much to complain about if that…

May 31-June 1Fargo Civic Center 207 4th St N, FargoA platform for you to build your business, your unmanned expertise, or network with fellow enthusiasts. Even more useful, on May 30 and June 2, Part 107 Drone Ground Training…

We’ve just read Mike McFeely’s interview with Governor Burgum, are intrigued by the governor’s vision of the future of higher education; that online courses will largely obviate the need for campuses, tenured faculty, and…

The rich live 20 years longer than the poorSeveral recent incidents in the airline industry are sending messages to the Ninety-Nine Percent around the world. If you can’t hold it, don’t book a flight. A male passenger was…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

Do you eat enough vegetables? Almost no one does. The current USDA nutrition guidelines for adults recommends 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables to be eaten daily. Other nutrition sources indicate this number can be upwards of 6 cups of…

Nine band lineup at The AquariumLocal radio listeners are likely to be familiar with 95.9 Radio Free Fargo, a station devoted to serving the Fargo-Moorhead area and run completely by volunteers. The station plays a little bit of…

Cinema

​Killer serial makes Blu-ray debut

by Christopher P. Jacobs

“Daredevils of the Red Circle.” Who are they? What is it? Before the internet, before television, serialized drama was still a significant part of popular culture. Novels were serialized in magazines and newspapers going back…

Artist Anna Lee brings years of knowledge to Fargo in new workshopsOrganizing and participating in locally-grown fashion shows, years at corporations like Target. And now working as an independent artist, Anna Lee has done it all,…

When we had a chance to catch up with Corey Ruffin, the mastermind behind the Grand Rapids-based traveling burlesque troupe Super Happy Funtime Burlesque, he was at the repair shop getting a tune-up on their tour bus. The retired…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

This Memorial Day weekend, thousands of hands will be reaching into icy cold coolers for a refreshing beer to wet the whistle. Mark Bjornstad, co-founder and president of Drekker Brewing Company hopes that at least once during the…

Wellness

​Gut instinct

by Amber Schmidt

While many of us suffer with the occasional upset stomach, long-term digestive issues can lead to increased problems down the road. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 60 to 70…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

With the recent passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by the U.S. House of Representatives, it is important to have an honest and truthful discussion regarding what the AHCA is and what it is not. But before we get into…