KC Hyland grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, the oldest of six children. Early memories of this full, childhood home evoke a Von Trapp-esque quality: KC’s mother, she shared, often sewed their clothes, and they abided by a rather disciplined “no TV” policy, which likely began KC’s love of literature. Flashforward to her college years, and it’s little wonder why KC enrolled in Wheaton College as an English major.
After moving to New York City, KC spent many years as an English teacher and, later, Director of Admissions for such prestigious city schools as Spence and Buckley. But storybooks weren’t the only means for adventure and exploration in KC’s life: KC loves to travel and took frequent trips to Rome with her late ex-husband Jack Hyland, the Chairman Emeritus of the American Academy in Rome. KC and Jack’s daughter Liza – the eldest of their three children – recalls their adventurous early years as a family living abroad in Paris and London before resettling in New York.
KC and Jack separated in the early 1990s, but they maintained a close friendship and neighborship, when Jack also crossed the park and joined KC as an Upper West Sider! They gracefully transitioned into their new relationship with the city and with each other.
It was only after Jack’s passing in 2017 that KC’s children began to notice their mother’s increasing care needs, despite her wildly independent spirit. For a time, KC’s children cared for her themselves: her son Jonathan moved into the UWS apartment for a year but relocated to the Hudson Valley, so the Hyland family built a new plan together. KC’s daughter Liza reflected on the transition to Duet in 2019, “[it was the] best thing we ever did.”
They knew that a creative, thoughtful, and non-intrusive partner would suit KC best. But only after a handful of in-person meetings was KC able to discover and narrow down her preferences, thus honing the matchmaking process and ensuring every care pairing was intentional and unique to her.
When COVID all but shuttered the city in spring of 2020, KC and her family made the transition from hourly to full-time care. That’s where Michael came in. He’s one of three companions on KC’s team. As with any relationship, there was a period of early exploration, boundary setting, and creativity that laid the groundwork for the fulfilling, quality time to come. Liza applauds the “legendary” empathy and patience of KC’s care team, who have become such important figures in her family.
Michael speaks fondly of his years as a traveling guest lecturer on kinetic and interactive art and on alternative photography. Additionally, he is an archivist, researcher, and bibliographer who has developed projects for the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Arts Club, and the Arts Institute of Chicago, amongst many others. Now, Michael splits his time between the city and the Hudson Valley, where he is renovating a ski chalet.
They both exude a reverence for intentional design and respecting one’s space. It comes as no surprise, then, how they both enjoy KC’s Upper West Side home, a space replete with books, plants, and a baby grand piano ready to swell the home with music.
Though KC and Michael became regulars at the St. Agnes Library on the Upper West SIde, and KC has enjoyed art classes at the 92 Street Y, when asked if lockdown restrictions caused her any cabin fever, she smiled and shrugged, “I like being home.”
Over the last year and a half, they found themselves discovering new hobbies – from gardening and painting to a newfound love of pickling! Their routine is important, but they find flexibility in the kind of creative activities they learn together. One thing KC and Michael can always count on, however, is a long walk through Central Park.
KC cares for Central Park as if it’s her own backyard. She picks up litter, basks in sun spots, searches for a familiar egret in the pond. An avid birdwatcher, KC and Michael remember fondly when “Barry,” a snowy owl, became something of a park celebrity in early 2021. KC, like many city-dwelling birders, delighted in the rare sighting. With all the talk of “Barry,” you might assume him a close companion, which he was, just not of the human variety!
To meet KC is to understand that despite her complex and accomplished life, she’s most interested in other people and the world around her. In one large loop of the park, KC and Michael might encounter everything from group yoga classes to children’s soccer games, loud teens (on which they might enjoy the occasional eavesdrop), or a sweet, leashless dog, whom they’ll ensure isn’t lost.
On a recent stroll, Michael and KC laughed at a precocious toddler in a pair of ruby slippers straight out of The Wizard of Oz. Their delight communicated more than just a shared moment but perhaps a shared mantra, Dorothy’s mantra: there’s no place like home.