Guess Who Came to Dinner?

It’s been quite a weekend around here. We’ve had house guests—Kathy and Joe Kenda. Yes, that Joe Kenda, as in Lt. Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter fame.

How did that come about? Quite by accident. I’ve long been a fan of Homicide Hunter on ID Discovery. In Proof of Life, Beaumont # 23, someone asks Beau in a rather snarky fashion if he’s planning on being the next Joe Kenda.

In October of last year, with Bill in back surgery recovery mode, I flew to Newport News to do a speaking event. Before the event started, I was seated on the stage awaiting my cue when a woman I didn’t know came up and said, “You put my husband in this book.”

I’m sure I gave her a very puzzled look. “I did?”

“Yes, Joe,” she said. “My husband, Joe Kenda.”

“You’re married to Joe Kenda?”

“Yes, he’s right over there.”

“Joe Kenda is HERE?”

So Kathy brought him over, we had a photo op, and I signed the book she had brought along. After the event, Kathy sent me a photo, and Joe sent me a text with kind remarks about my presentation. I was truly gratified. I write about fictional cops, but I have nothing but profound admiration for the men and women who do the real jobs of law enforcement. And so, to have a compliment from a real cop who is also a raconteur was high praise indeed.

For those of you who don’t know Homicide Hunter, it is based on many of the nearly 400 cases Joe solved during his 23 years with the police department in Colorado Springs. The show reenacts cases from the eighties and nineties. In the reenactments, Joe is played by Carl Marino while Joe himself serves at the narrator. He does so with absolute aplomb and no script. Initially the Hollywood types went into a blind panic at his scriptless delivery, but now that Homicide Hunter is the most successful cable show in the world, they’ve adjusted. The show does show up all over the world. Joe and Kathy’s son saw it in Saudi Arabia and Dan said, “Hey Dad, I didn’t know you spoke Arabic.” (He doesn’t but dubbing works.)

This summer when they mentioned that they were coming through Seattle on an Alaskan cruise, I invited them to stay over for a few days, coming or going. They did, arriving on Saturday afternoon and departing at o-dark-thirty on Wednesday morning.

It has been great fun. Occasionally you meet people and instantly feel at home with them, and Joe and Kathy are those people. There isn’t a pretentious bone in either of their bodies. When it came to fixing meals, clearing up, or pouring beverages, both of them jumped in to help. We talked until all hours, swapping stories. We talked about kids and dogs and work. Joe’s face is known world wide, so when a stranger walked up to him in the Dublin Airport and addressed him by name, their daughter was a bit dumbfounded. She knew her dad was on TV, but she had no idea he was EVERYWHERE.

Kathy, a trained nurse, spent 23 years as the wife of a dedicated policeman. She’s a hero in her own right. She’s also an amazing artist. Her paintings and quilts are breathtaking. Joe and Kathy are high school sweethearts who will celebrate their 52nd anniversary this December. She is the only person who, when she tells Joe Kenda to jump, he asks how far.

Two days of their stay overlapped with the start of the tour. But we managed. We were four of the eight people at the 11:30 AM showing of Downton Abby last Sunday. We took them to John Howie steak for dinner. We also took them to lunch at IKEA and served them them a homemade Sunday dinner. Breakfasts were mostly muesli made with berries and nuts with a foundation of Snoqualmie Falls oatmeal.

And when we told them goodbye, we all felt like we were sending off a pair of friends. I’m pretty sure we’ll see them again. The dogs who warmed up to them instantly are already missing them.

As that old Girl Scout song says: Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold

I suspect that Joe and Kathy are silver which will turn into gold—just like Janis Ian did.

I am one lucky girl!