Grandma Kay

By Taylor Michl

Before she retired, my Grandma Kay owned a travel agency. She and her late husband used to travel the world together. Her life revolved around collecting anecdotes, souvenirs, and friends from every corner of the world, and sharing the joy of travel with others.  

When Kay’s oldest grandchild graduated high school, she started a tradition. For the next several years, she would take each grandchild, individually, on a trip to the location of their dreams – almost anywhere in the world. As you can imagine, this is the most impactful gift that I have ever received.  

In 2017, Grandma Kay and I embarked on a week-long trip to Ireland. Learning together, watching the rich green hills unfold in front of us, drinking Guinness in a dark pub, and observing her futile attempts at charming a fellow tourist into going on a date with me, are memories that I will cherish forever.  

Grandma Kay is not my biological grandmother; she is the biological grandmother of my (half) sisters. However, she treated me as her own since the day I was born – so much so that it took me at least a decade to learn that we were not biologically related. When I came out, she immediately began researching queer and trans identities, initiating nuanced discussions with me about her learning. She is one of the kindest, most brilliant people I know.  

Grandma Kay is a model for what it means to be a true life-long learner, as she has a constant hunger for new experiences, new friendships, and new information. Her life is a reminder to us all to soak up every possible ounce of richness that the human experience has to offer.  

This story is part of Her Life as Art: Coming Together Through Grandmother Stories, a unique, multi-dimensional, week-long series of events celebrating the wisdom and legacy of the grandmother figures in our lives, taking place Nov. 6 – 12, 2021 at the Kansas City United Church of Christ, 205 W. 65th St. KCMO, 64113. We invite you to view the art exhibit and attend other related events. For details, please visit