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October 23, 2010


My friend, Patti, died on Wednesday. Her husband, Ralph, wrote a column for the Care Pages about her life. It was the end of a long, five week journey in a little town in California where she was taken after her tragic auto accident. The doctors were simply not able to repair the considerable damage to her internal organs. Their son, Chip, was with his dad when she died.

I have so many memories of Patti, but one of my favorite was the time that Jeni came home from shopping with Patti and her daughter, Carolyn. Jeni and Carolyn, probably in junior high about then, were annoyed because bossy Patti bawled the girls out in front of everyone when they didn't let her go before them into the store as she was the elder of the three. I thought it was a lovely thing for Patti to remind the girls that they could think of others before themselves even while sympathizing with Jeni who was embarrassed by the situation. That was Patti! Teaching all the children how to behave properly.

When I was interested in going back to teaching, Patti found me job in a small private school in the next town. She had been teaching second grade there for several years. It was a very, very proper school with many rules and regulations. The children were well behaved and stood up when an adult came into the classroom, shook hands with the teacher as they left, and were well versed in all the patriotic songs. It is the only time in my life that I had to learn all the little known verses to all the patriotic songs so that I could be a proper choir teacher. Teachers were expected to dress up. The first day I walked into the faculty meeting, Patti said in front of everyone, "Marilyn, I think this is the first time I've ever seen you in a dress!"

Patti taught church school for years because she never liked sermons. When Don came to Woodland Hills, she had her first dilemma. She liked teaching church school, but finally found a preacher she liked also. When she moved to Mammoth, California, and attended a small conservative church, she asked to teach church school and they would not let her even take care of the babies. She was too liberal! But, she and Ralph continued to go to the church since it was the only offering on hand. She thought it very amusing that they wouldn't trust her around the children not to share her views on religion.

Patti was one of a kind! She always had a smile on her face and a good word to share. She loved telling stories about her grandchildren and she loved to travel with Ralph. She loved life, loved teaching and, at 76, she still drove down off the mountain to mentor teachers in Bishop and surrounding towns. She and Ralph still went to Balboa yearly, and the family would gather as they had for over 30 years to bicycle each morning, buy fish from the dory fishermen on the beach, and have nightly parties for all in attendance. She loved UCLA and continued to be faithful to her sorority and to PEO as a long time member.

Patti was really very special. I enjoyed a visit from Patti and Ralph last April. They arrived at church during a Lenten series presentation, pitched in to help in the kitchen, and stayed for the program with me. During the week, we had to go to Anthony's more than once since Patti fondly remembered the restaurant from her last visit. We visited Taylor shellfish farm and brought home two dozen oysters which Ralph shucked, and he and I ate while Patti regaled us with tales of her family. She had just as much fun as Ralph and me although she did it without the oysters.

Patti was a life force that will will be sorely missed by her friends, her family, her neighbors, and all who have ever known her! She was unique and she was very special. It is hard to lose a friend like that!

Posted by Marilyn at 8:29 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2010

I Feel Like the Weather!

It's cold and dreary outside (at least for the moment before the sun begins to shine through the clouds). That is how I feel inside too. I seem to have my grandsons' cold and have cancelled almost everything for a few days. Sad because I expected to be holding Lionel this afternoon after calling on one of my interns at Marysville High School. Oh well, I hope this doesn't take more than a few days. No fever, just sore throat and sniffles.

I'm also drearily watching my friend Patti move towards the end of her life. They tried so many things including several operations to fix her internal organs, but they just couldn't pull it together. So, she is slowly wasting away in the hospital where she has been for four weeks now. Much of that time has been in ICU, but now she is in a "hospice" type situation in a low care room where they are keeping her comfortable and her family can be in attendance. Patti and Ralph have four children and nine grandchildren (half of them grown or in college). Her room has hosted almost all of them at one time or another. But, some have had to return to their jobs and others are going back and forth from their homes in Phoenix and Los Angeles and North Carolina to the hospital. It is incredibly sad. But, I'm glad the family has had time to gather with her and to share these moments before her death. I remember how very poignant that was for our family when Don was dying. I also remember how incredibly wonderful my three children were as they supported me and were constantly present with their dad. Roger said today on the blog that he was singing songs to his mother that she sang to him as a child. That made me cry.

I don't know if the jarring of a car crash with Patti falling asleep at the wheel is different than if she were dying of a disease, but I know that I have been so terribly distressed since I first read the news on Facebook. I suppose that the roller coaster of ups and downs and the constant hope that the doctors might be able to put her back together again, or thinking of how much Patti has physically gone through having all the operations, or contemplating how Ralph's simple trip home from a UCLA game could end in such a horrible tragedy has thrown me for a loop. I know that a series of losses can creep up on you (Don, Ken, Judy) and that one loss is just as tragic as another, but I have found myself checking my computer many times a day to find the latest updates about Patti and I am forever grateful that her children have kept us all up to date. Perhaps it was helpful to participate actively in the other losses that gave me more to do than read my computer. In any case, there are dozens and dozens of us watching and waiting. I have had some nice conversations with old friends who have reacted like I have - with horror and great sadness.

So, for the next several days or so, my heart continues to be in that little hospital in Lancaster, California, where my good friend Patti Rea is ending her life in the presence of her loving family.

Posted by Marilyn at 8:44 AM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2010

Creature of Habit

I am such a creature of habit. Martin updated this website since it had not been updated in a very long time. But, now I have to think very carefully about how to write on my blog because the site looks different from the back end, and all the buttons and entry information totally rearranged. It took me forever last time to add the pictures. The process is the same once you figure it out, but it is completely rearranged. I'm sure there are probably new things available to me, but all I want to do is what I have always done. I guess I'm just a creature of habit that way.

There is an orange block on the right hand side of my screen which says "Zemanta is inactive, and I need to write my post in Rich Text format in WYSIWYG Mode in order for Zemanta to work". I haven't a clue what that means. One way to find out is to call my son who, I'm very sure, is very busy this morning with a small baby. He has been at work all week and if Christine resembles me in any way, she will be glad of weekends to share the child rearing. Well, I actually never had actual weekends married a pastor, but you get the drift. I'm fairly computer literate for the small things, but it takes so long to understand the mechanics of anything, that I drift away or never get started. I learn things that I absolutely have to learn to accomplish what I want to do. I may not get the big picture that way, but it also is not conducive to times of change where I have to relearn or adjust.

So, I get into this website and nothing is familiar. Some people in my family would find that exciting and challenging. I find it annoying and want to retreat. But, I'm rather fond of my blog and I refuse to let a little thing like ability to cope get me down. Martin assures me that it works the same, and I trust him. I'm facing the same problem with new hearing aids. I have two areas where I have difficulty hearing. The first is where there is ambient noise (such as the church coffee hour) and the second is where someone has a particularly soft voice or a voice in a particular range. So, I have just gotten some new hearing devices which are programmed for these areas. But, I need to adjust to wearing them and I may need to have them tweaked in a week or so.

It is annoying to have to wear them. It is annoying to have to have them. That is my emotional child speaking, not my intellect. Again, I want to retreat because it feels like a nuisance. But, then, I know from experience that I will persevere and probably appreciate being able to hear in those situations where I usually miss someone's words. I told Dani that I didn't want to wear hearing aids (why are they different from glasses?) because I didn't want to be a doddering old lady. She reminds me that I am more doddering when I misunderstand someone. She's right, of course. Although I don't think I walk around saying "huh?" But, I miss things.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to buck up and realize that change can be positive.

Posted by Marilyn at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)