It was that last summer of self-absorbed girlish innocence for her sister Anne Desmond and myself. We had just graduated from Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pennsylvania. By next summer we would be entangled in the brutal realities of trying to make our way in the world.
But that glorious evening, I captivated Pat with my tales of how I made amazing ice cream sundaes in the Nut Shoppe in my home town of Jersey City, New Jersey. Right then and there we decided I would make one for her. That sweet memory became the platform for a friendship which just ended this morning. Anne told me that Pat had died today.
For 47 years Pat and I exchanged letters, mostly every week, all snail mail. She was cognitively disabled so I kept the languge and content simple. But, she understood well the appeal of gossip. She constantly informed me what Anne was up to. I loved the dirt.
When my mother died suddenly, Pat rallied the family to send me sympathy messages. She never forgot my birthday. And it was her sister Anne who nudged me into a 12-step program in Washington D.C. That saved my life.
Somehow I discovered the discount greeting cards in dollar stores. Two for a buck. With the really nice ones a buck. Pat loved them, even more than the chatty letters. Her family told me that she kept all the greeting cards in a bag and had them read her as many as possible when they visited her. About nine days ago I mailed what would be the last dollar-store card. Three are left in the folder I have marked "For Pat." Because I knew they were important to Pat, I kept stocked up.
My hunch is that when St. Peter let Pat in the gate today, he instructed her she would no longer need a pencil, paper, envelopes, and stamps. From now on she would transmit her love to me via the angels. About an hour ago there was a flash of light.