catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf
Pat, or "Aunt Pat" as I dubbed her when I was a but a babe in arms, was a major part of my entire life. She and my mother, Alice, met in the Girl Scouts and became lifelong friends. She and Mom shared schools, an apartment at one point and a lifelong friendship. She set my mother up with my dad on their first date (she apologized to me for that years later, given that dear old Dad was not exactly a great human being). She was at their wedding and Mom was at hers when she married Bud Myers, AKA Uncle Bud. They eventually divorced, but stayed good friends. Bud bought me my first wok and showed me how to cook in it. Pat showed me how to do embroidery and needlework; I still have a pair of embroidery scissors that she gave me when I was 13 or so. I also hung out with her terrific kids, Tom and Suzi, both considerably younger than me.

And Pat and her family gave forever homes to several cats that we rescued from various things but couldn't keep. Basil St. John, the one-eyed cat, who had been previously rescued by one of my friends after being hit by a car went to live with them after my friend's uncle tried to poison him and our cat failed to take a shine to him when he moved in with us. Ragamuffin, who was cat straight out of a Kliban cartoon, was rescued from the Brooklyn streets by us, then given to a catless family friend, then to Pat and family after that friend died. They were two of the many rescued cats that Pat housed over the years. Daphne, the last one, is also blind in one eye, carrying on the Basil St. J. tradition.

Pat got me a summer job at the small photo archive where she worked in the early 1980s (Pat and Mom both did photo research for textbook companies and related entities for many years). I don't remember a bunch about that job, except that the owner was a challenging personality for an edgy 18 year old to get along with. Several years after I left NYC for the wilds of St. Louis, I heard that he had died from complications with AIDS/HIV. I remember Pat and Mom and some other folks organizing to help run the business when he got sick and helping his surviving partner wrap things up when he, too, got sick. Bear in mind that this was the late 1980s and AIDS was still the big scary bad thing, the "terrorism" of its time. But they went and braved the scariness to help a gay couple who needed them because it was the right thing to do.

Years later, Pat talked my mother into getting treatment for her alcoholism. Long after I'd given up, Pat kept trying until she found a way in. Mom got sober and stayed sober and we had about 15 good years as a result. And when Mom's dementia started to kick in, Pat was one of my support people in NY, always available when I needed someone to talk to. We kept talking and she kept calling and writing my mom, even after Mom stopped being able to call or write her back.

And my heart is just broken. I'm going to miss her so much. She was one of those folks who lit up a room when she came in. She loved bright colors and quilting and rescuing cats and going on walking tours and hot air ballooning. She also raised two amazing people, who do lots of terrific things to carry on her legacy. And she mentored and guided so many other people in addition to me that it feels a little odd to say that she had two kids because sometime it felt like she had so many more. She was the best of us and I can only hope that I can help carry on her legacy too.

I'm flying to New York on Friday morning and I'll be speaking at her funeral and memorial on Saturday afternoon. Her family is asking that people donate to the Himalayan Cataract Project in her memory, but after consulting with her daughter, I'm going to continue supporting a project that I donated to as a Christmas gift for her last year. We both loved Heifer international and this last December, I contributed to the launch of a women artisan's cooperative in Peru. It made her very happy so I'll be continuing my support in her honor (and a side note about the coop:  the women involved in this project are doing amazing work that includes sustainable farming and a new store for their crafts). May her memory stay green and may it continue to inspire good in the world.



Date: 2016-10-26 02:26 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
I'm so sorry, Catherine. She sounds like such a wonderful woman, and I'm sorry the world has lost her.

Date: 2016-10-30 10:00 am (UTC)
jolantru: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jolantru
HUGS.

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