Where to Begin?

by Nancy Thall
 
Where to begin talking about Aunt Pat? We all know how amazing she was, how kind, intelligent, creative and lovely person she was. When I was a teenager after we moved to California when I was 14, 3021 Fulton Street was our home away from home, and I often went up there with my family or just Mom, to stay with Aunt Pat and Uncle Fred. As an adult, Aunt Pat several times offered to let me stay there if I wanted to move to the Bay Area. In 1997 I took her up on her offer, after a bad break-up and in a difficult time in my life. Aunt Pay was very supportive, gave me a place to nurse my wounds, some resources, and did not pry. She even let me move there with my 2 cats, although she never rented out rooms in her house to tenants with pets. I healed, and eventually got my own place.
 
Years later, when I was looking for a place to move, she offered to rent me the cottage in her backyard, where Grandma once lived. Moreover, she rented the cottage to me at less than her last tenant, saying that I shouldn’t pay more than a 1/3 of my income for rent. It was a pleasure living on the same property as Aunt Pat. She was so family oriented, any visiting relative was hosted to a family dinner. She looked after my cats for me when I went down to visit my parents, and when we went for a week or so at a time to paint and fix up their house. After my mother died, she was like a second mother, and sometimes called me her 4th  daughter. She was so kind to my father after he moved to the Hayward, CA, often having him over for dinner, especially on his birthday.
 
It was so nice to stop by to visit on my way in, to say hello, catch up on the latest family news, and see what she was doing. She was so bright, I often learned much when talking to her, hearing about the latest book she was involved with, or what DES Action was up to. She and Mom were the big newspaper clipping folk, always thinking of their loved ones, and saving newspaper clippings. She saved many a clipping for me on animals or another of my interests. She also loved to have her hair combed, as Mom did. The last time I saw her at the hospital, I combed her hair, and she told me that she loved me. Many a time, she wanted to show me something on the computer, or was watching one of her many political TV shows. I made the mistake once of calling her while the Colbert Report was on, which I did not repeat. A child of the Depression, she was very frugal, saving postage stamps that could be reused, with no postage mark on them. Working at the SPCA, we often got donations, too many of sheets that we could not always use. Aunt Pat asked me if there were any full size sheets, as her own were falling apart. I gave her an old set of mine, and Linda and I got her a very nice sheet set for Christmas. Aunt Pat was very pleased, but never would have gotten some for herself.
 
I remember when she called to ask me to come over to the house, that she wanted to talk to me in person. She was very sensitive in telling me that Mom had had 2 children when she was still single and living with her parents, and became an important part of introducing me to new members of our family that I hadn’t known about. Initial shock and sadness over what Mom, Gerry,and  Peter had gone through turned into happiness at meeting wonderful people that I was related to and who have become part of my life.
 
I am very grateful to have had such a wonderful person as such a close member of my family. I can’t image what it would have been like not to have her in my life. Who can forget her courage and determination even on her deathbed, in pain and exhaustion, calling her siblings and a few others, such as myself to say goodbye? I loved you so much Aunt Pat and miss you still.  
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