Introduction via Air Mail

by Amy Leval

My introduction to the Herbert Heralds came via a hefty airmail package four years ago. Pat had taken special care to put the Nora edition on top of the pile and also included some extra pictures of Nora. I don’t remember which part was stranger for me – holding a written copy of a tribute to my grandmother’s life, a grandmother I had never met, or seeing my maiden name Herbert printed before the word Herald. When I received the package I was preparing for a long trip west from Stockholm to meet Pat and other members of the Herbert family, including Paul, in a meeting aptly dubbed by my Uncle Gerry as the ‘Herbert union’.

I have understood the Herbert clan is large and ‘reunions’ were not uncommon in decades past. For my sister Beth, my dad Peter and I the Herbert clan was miniscule – consisting only of the three of us during all of my childhood. For decades I had assumed the name Herbert was given to my dad at random, holding neither history nor any real connection. Pat changed my understanding of the name and the past.  With her open, strong heart she was able to link us in to a place previously closed. She responded immediately to my request for information about Nora –with a warm welcome I never imagined. Pat also linked my heart to my grandmother who I never met, a much unexpected gift over three decades into my life. She provided understanding of difficult decisions made in difficult times. Her closeness with and love for Nora throughout the course of both of their lifetimes was contagious. With her sharp, civic mind and warm, humble heart Pat touched many people. She was the kind of woman you want to emulate and personally, I find her example of sisterhood to be her greatest source of inspiration.

I will end here with words excerpted from an email from Pat sent after our ‘union’ in 2010. Pat had both a way and a way with words. Her way was open-hearted and inclusive and her words could also express this. There are few written words I have read to-date that I cherish as much as these:

Hi Amy – thanks so much for the photos. I forwarded them to your great uncle Bob and also sent the others in the extended family a listing of who was who where they would see an unfamiliar face, now to be a familiar face as you are all in the family. I went to MV on Sunday for lunch with Gerry. He asked me how we felt about the “new” relatives and I told him how welcome you are, thinking later that you are to be thanked for coming into the family where you belong. There was always a gap there, an incompleteness that has now been closed. A relief to have you “come home.” 

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