I lost my Aunt Pat today. She was a pretty amazing woman who was far ahead of her time. She was always doing things her way, right from the beginning. I remember she was a big cheek pincher, I used to hold my face every time I would see her.
When she was young she was a great swimmer and ball player. Girls certainly weren't allowed on any baseball teams, but she figured a way. She already had short hair, she cut it shorter, bound her chest and tried out for the team under the her nickname Pat. She played the whole season, wowed them all. She got caught at the beach, when diving off the pier showing off her diving talents a few of her team mates came along and saw the crowds gathering. They caught a glimpse of a girl that looked just like Pat their team mate. Yelling out her name she turned, took the dive, landing in the rocks. She was rushed to the hospital and she almost died. The way she tells the story was the worst part about the accident was the jig was up. Her team mates found out she was really Patricia. Ah well, on to her next great adventure.
Aunt Pat became a nurse and joined the navy. She was in training in Florida and fell in love, a place she would dream about for many years, and made the move with her family when she was in her 40's. A lifelong dream to move back, I was so happy for her that she followed her dream.
A few years before the move to FL her husband was transferred from MA where she lived to CT, so she was here for a few years too. I always think of her when I see a Red Cross vehicle. She worked for the Red Cross, on the blood mobile. It was her favorite job. She went around to all the prisons taking blood, now that was a long time ago, we don't do that anymore. She had a million funny stories to tell about her visits to the prisons, that's for sure!
When I was young, Aunt Pat played Santa Claus at the family Christmas gatherings. We all sat on her lap and I never knew it was her. She was perfect for the part, she was on the round side and had a twinkle in her eyes. Every time I look at the picture with me with my brother leaning against Santa it brings a flood of memories.
Aunt Pat was married to the sweetest little man ever. She was not that tall but she was more than a bit on the portly side. Uncle Felix was small. He had a brother that was a professional jockey, and he was not that much bigger than his brother. I loved Uncle Felix, he was such a sweet, kind, gentle man. They were the odd couple to be sure. Everywhere they went they made friends so easily, both of them were outgoing, fun loving, always entertaining, always smiling and laughing. Uncle Felix was always helping everyone fix things, from cars to carpentry work. He was well loved and well respected and always, always busy!
Aunt Pat and Uncle Felix had two sons, both are still alive. The oldest was born with many health problems, he had a hole in his heart. He is cognitively challenged and so is his younger brother. My aunt fought long and hard, she wanted them mainstreamed. They went to regular schools in special classes. She fought to have regular rooms assigned for learning rather than the boiler room. She was a woman quite ahead of the times. She insisted they work meaningful jobs, the oldest got a job at a Florida hospital in housekeeping and was there until he had to retire recently for health reasons. The youngest had a harder time as he was hit by a car and had some traumatic brain injury. But work they did, earning their way in life.
Her life was not an easy one. From the day she came home and told her very Irish father that she was marrying an Italian boy, (my grandfather was furious to say the least) till the day she died, Aunt Pat bore all that life had to throw at her with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. She was there for me when my mom died, we were able to laugh through the tears. Aunt Pat was a realist if nothing else, and was always open and honest. I will miss that, I will miss everything about her. Hospice sent us a minister for our service for my very Roman Catholic mother. He was all of about 5 feet, wore a blue polyester lesure suit and was so off the mark my aunt laughed the whole time. At the very end he asked for people to come up and speak with her, an elderly woman with bright red lipstick smeared on her lips and face, a turban on her head and big hoop earrings came forward and sang the worst rendition of the "Our Father" I have ever heard. My aunt and I were hysterical, trying so hard not to burst out laughing, she reached over and pinched me as hard as she possibly could. She said my mother would kill us if she could, which made us laugh even more. The tears were rolling down our cheeks, I am grateful people thought we were overcome with grief. That was Aunt Pat!
So today she joins her Felix just in time for Father's Day. I am sure they are hand in hand, all earthly pain and suffering a long distance memory. I am a bit sad, this is the end of an era. I remember the day we were at her brothers funeral, they had already lost a sister a few years before. She turned to my mother and said "when did we become our old aunts"? She was remembering how she thought they were born ancient and out of touch, always called them "the old ladies". She turned to me and with a smile on her face she told me that before I knew it, I too would be one of "the old ladies". Then she told me to ride it for all it was worth! I promise I will.
Good bye Aunt Pat, I will miss you, I love you, give Uncle Felix a big hug and kiss from me. And say hello to Mom from me, after you pinch her of course.
Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate
2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors
2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Litchfield County Regional Office,375 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776
© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017
Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain