Three weeks after Karen Kouvatsos died, her granddaughter Julianna Crofts received a basket full of Superhero books, masks and pajamas delivered to her home in Centereach.
The well-planned birthday gift arrived Jan. 5, one day after Julianna Crofts turned 4.
That was the type of mother and grandmother Karen Kouvatsos was — kind, thoughtful and loving, her adult children said.
"The last eight years were about her grandchildren," her son Bill Kouvatsos said. "Before that, it was about me and my sister."
Karen Kouvatsos of East Rockaway died of complications of COVID-19 on Dec. 16 at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside. She was 58.
Not only was Karen Kouvatsos a doting caretaker of Deana Kouvatsos' four children ages 1 to 8, she said her mother was also her best friend and lifeline.
"We used to call each other like 14 times a day," said Deana Kouvatsos, 35, of Centereach. "We talked all day. We just had that relationship. We’ve always been best friends before, I think, we were mother and daughter."
Karen Lee Kouvatsos was born on May 16, 1962, to Pasquale and Barbara Fuca in Corona, Queens. After a divorce, the mother of two worked in public relations for hotel group Marriott until she was diagnosed with a seizure disorder that prevented her from driving, her children said.
Kouvatsos was a hardworking woman who never yelled or raised her voice, her children said. She was not a helicopter parent.
"She was definitely not the overbearing type," said Bill Kouvatsos, 38, of East Rockaway. "She let me live my life. I’m a gay man. That was never an issue for her. She just was always there if you needed something."
Her children said Kouvatsos, who loved books and plants, babysat her neighbor’s children and eventually her own grandchildren.
"She was so patient," her daughter said. "If they were coloring … she used to sit down and color with them. … She’s very hands-on."
Kouvatsos is survived by her two children, Bill’s husband Lonnie Werner, Deana’s husband Greg Crofts and her four grandchildren. The family said they are planning a funeral in the spring.