A tribute related to this week's crash

My friend and coworker, John Reid, lost his sister in the plane crash. He writes a weekly column for me, and I told him this week he should use it to talk about her. This is what he wrote:

It was a dark, depressing torrential rain that fell on my mother’s back patio in Los Altos Monday morning. Little did I know that God had merely opened his heavens and was waiting for someone I loved more than life itself.
My mom, Bev Tucker, was at my sister Kathy’s house tending to my 16-year-old niece, Emily, for Kathy was on a business trip.
I called over at 7:30 a.m. to say good morning.
“Didn’t you hear the news?” asked my mother, 79.
“No,” I replied, having just woken up minutes before.
She explained about the possibility that my sister could be on a plane that had gone down in New York, but that they were still checking all the facts.
I quickly went to a downtown coffee shop for a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin, then returned – hoping, praying. The next conversation with my mom was much worse. Much worse.
“The news doesn’t look good,” she told me. “We found Kathy’s itinerary and it shows she changed her flight.”
At that point I knew I had lost my only sister. I was distraught. Inconsolable.
Kathleen Williams, 54, was on American Airlines Flight 587 that crashed minutes after leaving New York’s Kennedy Airport.
A late change in itinerary because she wanted to spend time with Emily last Sunday (so like her), a faulty inspection and a faultier engine and I would never see her again.
She was an active member of the United Methodist Church in Los Altos, having served on the Missions Board, among other committees. One of her most recent ventures was raising money for Emily’s choir to travel to Great Britain.
She had dodged danger flying thousands of miles on business in hostile Latin American countries. She had avoided dying in the name of freedom when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 13 days before she was to have a meeting there.
Despite bombings in places such as London and Paris (where she frequented often) and around the globe, she told me once that people can’t live their lives in fear.
She had gained my respect when I was very young. When I was about 5, my brother Jay, who was about 8, rode on the handlebars of my sister’s bike as she pedaled us down Magdalena Avenue to some school fair at Loyola Elementary. We took a serious spill and Kathy skinned her face badly while Jay and I were scraped a bit.
After I was sunburned on a summer trip to Tahoe when I was about 8, she made sure that I had Sea and Ski or Noxema on the nose at all times when out in the sun. And if I didn’t want to go to bed at night, it was a rousing chorus of “Bed to bed, you sleepy head.”
She was always someone I could confide in or ask advice. She was as wise as she was smart, yet never a braggart.
She attended Occidental College after graduating near the top of her class from Awalt High School in 1965. In 1968, she turned me on to the talents of James Taylor and Laura Nyro, saying they would be famous some day. As always, she was right.
At a time like this, you don˜t know what to do. I went to work. Literally.
I drove to San Francisco for the Stanford-Cal Big Game press conference, which was going to be the topic of today˜s column. I started to slip when I met a couple of women who were hosting it. They offered their condolences. I told Samuel Goldman, who works with the media at almost all Stanford events. I told Bob Rose, the media head from Cal. I sat next to a writer from the Stanford Daily.
“Hey, have you been listening to the radio?” he asked. “There was a plane accident back East.”
“My sister was on that plane,” I said calmly.
I went to the bar, where the restaurant manager was watching the post-tragedy unfold on television.
“My sister was on that plane.”
I told Dave Albee from the Marin Independent Journal. We hugged.
I ate lunch by myself, looking out a window toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
I stared as far as I could, past the haphazard seagulls and the yachts which were motoring through the choppy water.
I imagined myself sailing all the way to Rockaway to be with my sister. I’m sure I could have saved her.
I thought it symbolic that I was in San Francisco the day she died for she had spent much of her business life working at the Transamerica building and at an office on California Street.
After a hastened lunch, I quickly drove to my sister’s house in Los Altos to receive the official word. When I saw all the cars in front of her house, I knew her reservation on the flight to heaven had been confirmed.
Mom had to tell everybody her story about the rainbow she saw that fateful morning.
“I was out in front moving the cars and I saw this beautiful rainbow. There was Kathy above it saying, ‘Look, mom. I’m all right. Don’t you see?’”
I hope someday, sister, to see you over that rainbow. What a beautiful sight that will be.
Until then, go in peace. Go with God. I˜ll always love you. And never forget you.

John Reid, who grew up in Los Altos, has been a sports stringer for the Daily News since 1996.