Pattie and I met more than a decade ago in an online writing group sponsored by the Story Circle Network. As we shared life stories through the months and years that followed, we grew to know what lived in each others hearts and we became friends.
Pattie published her memoir, Women and Pedagogy: Education Through Autobiographical Narrative in 2009. She sent me a copy shortly thereafter, a delightful surprise. If you’d like to know more about Pattie, the accomplished teacher, artist, writer who deeply believed in the power of memoir, and a nurturer of all whom she cared about, a review of her book is here.
While I lived in central Virginia, Pattie and her husband moved to Austin TX to be nearer her son, Patrick, as she and John moved through their retirement years. She and I were gifted to meet when I attended Story Circle’s bi-annual national conference in Austin in 2010 and became fast friends from then on.
At the conference’s Open Mic on Saturday evening, I read a story that transformed in time to one of the most powerful chapters in my forthcoming memoir. When Pattie heard the story, she strongly encouraged me to publish my story.
We met again at the 2012 Conference in Austin. Pattie had donated one of her sketches to the Silent Auction and mine was, happily, the winning bid. On the last night of the conference, Pattie and I met in the quiet, darkened bar and each sipped a glass of red wine as we shared more of our life stories. Pattie kept adding water to her glass because she’d recently been diagnosed with a problem of concern. When we reluctantly said good night, we hugged tightly and I took my wine glass with me to finish in my room.
The next morning, as I passed the unoccupied bar to attend a workshop, I noticed Pattie’s empty glass remained on the table where we’d sat I walked into the bar, picked up Pattie’s empty glass, and took it to my room to join my empty glass, then went to my workshop.
When it was time to pack and leave for the airport, in my room, I wrapped each of our glasses in clothing to protect them from breakage in my suitcase when I flew home.
And so, Pattie, the two glasses filled with red wine on my front deck this evening that are placed toward Abiquiu, your final resting place, are the glasses we sipped on that memorable evening.
Today, I raise my glass and say to you, “Happy Birthday, dearest friend. I’m so grateful our paths crossed.”