Ch.175 Remembering Pat During the Holiday Season
I’m writing this chapter on Thanksgiving Day, between visits from first Cindy and then Joshua and Jenny. I’ve heard frequently that holiday season is especially hard for mourners; so far, though, I’ve enjoyed seeing the people I love. I have had a few tearful moments but no more than most days.
I have just re-read the passage I wrote (and Jenny read) for Pat’s funeral. I’d like to share that here now.
Like all couples, Pat and I had personality characteristics that were both matched and unmatched. Two shared traits were a tremendous love of learning and a desire to live meaningful lives by helping others. But we also had our differences. Here is an example. One day we were sitting in the living room. I noticed that Pat had put a new picture of our beloved dog Franklin on the wall. But something seemed wrong. I turned to Pat and said: “Honey, that picture you just hung up is tilted. I’ll fix it.” I started to rise when she intercepted me: “No,” Pat said, “I like it that way. That’s how I hung it.”
Did you know that highly creative people like Pat prefer asymmetry to symmetry? That’s what the research says. To use a baseball analogy, they prefer “crooked numbers” to straight ones. I myself instinctively prefer symmetry and straight lines. But over the years Pat taught me to value crooked numbers, tilted pictures and even driving down unmarked dirt roads to get a little lost.
Pat’s asymmetrical impulse did occasionally create problems. At home Pat could be unpredictable, compulsive, and disorganized. At work Pat sometimes had difficulty sticking to mundane tasks such as billing and writing case notes. However, it was exactly those things that made Pat harder to live with that also made her unique and special.
At home, Pat was the emotional center of our family. She brought us joy, curiosity, and creativity. At work, Pat helped us remember that serving our clients was what we were there for, and that making a good living was secondary.
There are many individuals, including her clients, who say that Pat changed their lives, helping them heal at the core of their being. I would add my name to that list. Early in our relationship Pat sensed a level of compassion inside me that I didn’t know existed, and then she gradually helped me connect with it. She helped convert me from a cynical and rigid person into a more emotionally open and caring one. Meanwhile, my self-appointed job was to keep Pat’s feet on the ground, to complement her airiness with my steadiness. We worked as a team to make both our lives better.
I am thankful on this Thanksgiving Day that I was able to share the greater portion of my life with Pat.
Dec. 14: Added Note: I now know it’s not the day of a holiday that hurts the most: it’s the day after the holiday.