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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Honoring Pat

 Atop the clock tower at Berkeley. Pat's only trip to Madelyn's school.

Life is full of changes, including the change from embodied life to a life beyond the body. The reason I have not posted for over a month is that we have been saying good-bye to my beloved mother-in-law Pat, who passed on March 1st. She was diagnosed with dementia about 10 years ago, in her early 60's. Since that time, we have enjoyed her as best we can and we've done our best to help each other  and help her.
 Pat and Bill in happier times - 2008. 
Mady and I joined them in Hawaii to celebrate her graduation from Cal.

Pat was loving, giving, creative and the best mother-in-law you could imagine. She welcomed me into her family with an open heart. She was so glad to have another girl join her in her family of boys. She was delighted to welcome a granddaughter and everything pink and sparkly. Pat spoiled Madelyn in the best possible ways - by being kind, patient, gentle and generous. When Mady was born, without our knowledge, Pat opened a college savings account for her. A life time of depositing bits and pieces from each pay check added up to thousands of dollars when Mady was ready for college. This gift helped Madelyn navigate her undergrad with a relatively small debt load. Also, Grandma Pat's generosity increased Madelyn's sense of gratitude and responsibility. Even though Mady has been given much, she's never taken any of it for granted. You see, spoiled in the best possible way.

 Bill and Pat, relaxing after Thanksgiving Dinner, 2008.

Bill has been Pat's caregiver. For the first few years of her disease, this was a lighter job. In the last few years, it has been a 24/7 act of love. I have learned so much about love from both of these wonderful people. I was privileged to assist with Pat's care for a few years. I was so glad to have a chance to spend focused time with her. I will treasure those times of helping her with her bath, doing her hair and helping her with her lipstick. When we came out of the bedroom to join the boys, she walked and smiled like she was Miss America. She sometimes forgot who I was and would ask Bill to pay me. I didn't mind. I had decided that as long as she knew that I loved and cared for her, I didn't care if she knew it was me. 

Susan and Pat, Christmas 2011.
This is the Christmas when Bill gifted me with Pat's family cookbook.

We were with her when she passed. So many things unfolded in just the right way at the right time, that I can't argue with the outcome. Still, losing someone is hard. Harder than I ever knew. 

Today, I honor Pat. I honor Bill. I honor my dear husband, who lost his mom. I honor my dear daughter who lost her Grandma Pat. I honor all of you who have given care. I honor all of you who have had to receive care. I honor all of you who have lost loved ones. I honor the love that makes the losing so hard. 

More food, coming soon. That is all. 


  1. This post touched me deeply. You dealt with this tragedy in a wonderful way and you gave Pat everything that she needed to die with dignity and surrounded by love. What a wonderful family she had and a wonderful legacy that she left behind. I am very sorry you lost Pat but your world is so much better because of her

    1. Thank you. The legacy of her love will go on in our family for generations.