Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Apples Aren't Always Red

Back in August I wrote a post about Pat, a dear friend who--despite failing health--was upbeat and happy, signing her emails, "Every day is a blessing."

In that entry, I wrote about visiting Pat with another friend, and I said that next time we wouldn't wait so long to visit her because we never know when it might be the last chance we have.

Sadly, that visit was the last one we had with Pat--she passed away last Friday at her daughter's home surrounded by her family.

Pat's son-in-law Alan, who is a pastor, led the service to celebrate her life yesterday. It was an amazing melange of memories from a life lived to the fullest.  

Alan painted a vivid picture of a woman who was creative and colorful, caring and compassionate. She put clothes and recipes and home decor together in crazy ways.  But her outfits and her concoctions and her decorations always worked despite the unlikely mixtures.

Pat made cheap pizzas out of bread, ketchup, cheese, and oregano for her kids when they were young and she was short on money, and she shared chips and movies in her bed with her grandkids.  She not only lived every moment to the fullest herself, but encouraged everyone around her to do the same.  She gave her grandkids disposable cameras at Longwood Gardens so they would have a record of the day, and she made cards with original watercolor art for her friends and family:

I found this little card in a box on my desk -- Pat had sent it to me at Christmastime two years ago with her new address inside:

For a wedding gift, Pat gave me and Doug a picture frame with a hand-painted mat that now holds our wedding picture:

Pat was a woman who changed her hair color and rearranged her living room furniture as often as she switched out her seasonal wardrobe.  She decorated every square inch of wall space in her home with art, yet could always find room for one more painting.  She made a 1970s condo look like an English country cottage.

Even when she had little herself, Pat always had something to share with those less fortunate.

Tissues were pulled out of pockets when her 21-year-old grandson Turner played the guitar and sang "Morning Has Broken," and laughter filled the room when a guest pastor sang Frank Sinatra's "My Way."

How could we not laugh?  Pat was barely five feet tall, but she "stood tall" and did it her way.  She didn't like complying with doctor's orders or listening to her kids' concerns about her health.  Even well into her 70s, she was still job hunting, including filling out the paperwork to be a post-Katrina FEMA representative. Two years ago, she enrolled in an online dating service. 

Pat delighted in playing pranks on her friends and her family. She once sent a letter to a co-worker, allegedly from the president of the University of Delaware, informing the woman that she had won an award. The letter said that the awards ceremony was scheduled for December 25 and that it would be a potluck dinner so the award winner should bring a dish to share. 

For her famous annual Halloween phone call, Pat would call the grandkids and cackle like a witch. The kids finally took to letting the calls go to voicemail so they could save the messages and share them with their friends. Despite being short of breath most of the time, Pat managed to make the call one last time this past October 31st.

As Alan said at the service, he could go on for hours with anecdotes about his mother-in-law, a woman who lived for today because yesterday was in the past and tomorrow hadn't happened yet.

But for all of us who knew and loved Pat, there is now only the past.  Memories of her will have to be enough.

Rest in peace, Pat. We miss you already.


  1. This is a really sweet tribute to your friend. I'm sorry she's no longer in the world. Sounds like she made it a better place.

    1. Thanks, Rita, she was so special.... I have a feeling she's going to be "doing it her way" wherever she is!