Wednesday, October 11, 2006

You Go, Girl!

My dearest Patti,

You left this earth the week after Mother's Day. It continues to be really hard for those of us who loved you. Your name and e-mail address are still in my computer address book. My in-box has e-mails from you. I cannot bring myself to delete them. Sometimes I catch myself wanting to click on "write message" to send you news about Dave and the kids. Lately, I have been wanting to ask you how Curt is doing and Julie.

I remember how organized you always were. You would plan your summers months in advance. You would have your campground reservations for June and ask us if we'd like to meet you and your family up in Whistler in August. Usually, I didn't know what we were doing a week ahead. I remember your little leather day timer where you had everything scheduled down to the minute it seemed.

You were a take charge person. You planned church activities beyond what I would ever do. Women's retreats were high on your priorities. Evidently, even in Pennsylvania, you were in charge of planning your church's women's retreat when I last talked to you on the telephone--when you were dying but didn't know. Or maybe you did. You regretted having to give up some of your duties and not attending because you were too sick.

I know you planned your memorial services, too. Apparently, your management style hasn't disappeared which kinda makes me feel like you are not totally gone from us. And believe me, I find great comfort in that thought. So, I cannot send you an e-mail but I can blog into cyberspace and thank you, girl.

I guess you knew that we had this family reunion in Kansas. You always loved reunions. I didn't want to go and be with people I had never met in my life. As it turned out, we had a fabulous time. If you were still here in Mukilteo, we would have talked about it at the Mukilteo Coffee Company and I would have shown you the pictures.

Somehow, you knew that on the way to the airport in Seattle, Dave and I were talking about your Curt. We hadn't heard from him in a while and we were concerned. Of course, knowing Curt, he was probably working--a lot. When we were together with Dave's brother and sister, we talked about you. Dave's sister, Shirley, had lost her husband six years ago to brain cancer. At the time, Shirley was the age Curt is now. Shirley had played golf with Dave and your Curt years ago. Curt knew all about what Shirley had been through. But you knew that, didn't you?

On Sunday, the six of us (Dave and me; Dave's brother and his wife, Kathy; Dave's sister, Shirley and Ron, the new man in her life) boarded a plane in Kansas City. We landed in Salt Lake City where we had a three hour wait for our next flights. Dave's brother and sister were heading to Spokane and us to Seattle. Our flights left at the same time but on different concourses.

While we were waiting, a man we didn't know walked up to us and handed us food vouchers. They had been bumped but managed to get on a flight and they were not going to use the vouchers. We thanked him for his random act of kindness! The six of us decided to go to the Dick Clark Bar and Grill at the intersection of the C and D concourses. We thought we might as well use the vouchers since we had nothing else to do.

In the bar, we pushed three little tables together and ordered some appetizer buffalo wings, quesadillas, and glasses of wine for Dave, Shirley, and me, beer for Dave's brother and Ron, and diet Coke for Kathy. I raised my glass and toasted the wonderful weekend we had had together. Ah, but the best part of the weekend was about to happen.

Your beloved Curt was flying to Monteray, California from Pennsylvania. And "coincidentally", he had a three hour lay over in the Salt Lake City airport. He walked by the Dick Clark Bar and Grill at the intersection of C and D concourse a couple of times. Since he had nothing better to do, he decided to sit quietly at a table near this rowdy group of six people. My husband almost fell off of his barstool and believe me, it wasn't the glass of wine. "That's Curt!"

In a split second, we were hugging and kissing. Curt hadn't seen us until we attacked him, so we had him pull his stool up to our tables to join us. This was the first time we had seen him without you, Patti. He looked good. He had lost weight and I teased him about how dapper he was dressed. Curt complemented my new hair cut. Dave talked to him about the toxicology meeting he was going to attend in California. I showed him pictures on my camera from the weekend.

Importantly, he assured us he was doing well. He told us about your second memorial service in Montana with your Mom and sister last June. Your chocolate lab, Chuckie, is getting a little gray now at 9 years old. But Curt has a pet sitter who comes in to take care of Chuck and the house when he travels. Your daughter Julie is naturally having some rough days but they are going to Cancun for Christmas--just the two of them. She is in graduate school in Oregon to become a teacher with a Master's degree. The last time I talked to you, you were in charge of helping her with her school applications and the finances. You were so happy with her choice to become a teacher instead of pursuing corporate marketing.

Curt wanted to know all about Kaley's first month of college. He asked about her music. He wondered about our vagabond son, Lucas. We explained he was finally back in Missoula where he has met a French girl.

Shirley introduced Curt to the new man in her life. Curt asked her if she was still living in Yakima. She explained she moved to Post Falls, ID into a house on a golf course and she could play any time she wanted. It was good--very good for Curt to hear how life can go on. Shirley hugged him and told him how she had been thinking about him and knew what he was going through. Curt's big smile revealed how happy he was to see us. He laughed--a lot. We needed to know he was ok and we had time to learn that he was.

Yes, indeed. The highlight of the weekend was a three hour lay over in Salt Lake City. This is a huge country between Spokane, Seattle, Kansas City, Pennsylvania, California, and Salt Lake City. Airports are big busy places. What are the chances of perfectly timed paths crossing---without some planning?

But you knew it all, didn't you, Patti??? You knew it all. Thank you, girl!