Happy Birthday, Pattie C. Burke


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.”



About Mary Jo Doig

Mary Jo Doig was the first in her family to attend college and graduated from the State University at Oneonta in New York’s Catskill Mountains with a degree in Secondary English Education/Educational Psychology. There she fell in love with rural life, remained, and eventually transitioned from city girl to country woman when she married a dairy farmer and raised their three children on their small family farm. A life-long lover of reading and writing, Mary Jo has for nearly twenty years been a member of the Story Circle Network. There she has been an editor, a women’s writing circle facilitator, a book reviewer, and life-writing enthusiast, working extensively with women writing their life-stories while writing her own memoir. Presently, she is a three-time Program Chair for SCNs national Stories from the Heart conference and a board member. She also facilitates Older Women’s Legacy workshops and a women’s life-writing circle in her area communities. Her stories have appeared in Kitchen Table Stories anthology, Story Circle Annual Anthologies, and most recently her story “I Can’t Breathe” was published in the Anthology, Inside and Out: Women’s Truths, Women’s Stories. Her work also appears in varied blogs and periodicals, on her blog Musings from a Patchwork Quilt Life (https://maryjod.wordpress.com), Facebook, and Twitter. Her son and two daughters grown, Mary Jo presently treasures her country life in Virginia’s Central Shenandoah Valley. She loves cooking (and eating!) healthy food, reading, writing, quilting, hiking, and spending quality time with her rescue cats, Button and Xena, and beagle, Addie, who each dream of being only children. Her first book, Patchwork: A Memoir of Love and Loss, will be published in October, 2018 by She Writes Press.
This entry was posted in Grace, Gratitude, The Writing Life. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Happy Birthday, Pattie C. Burke

  1. Aw, Mary Jo, you made me cry. These friendships we forge through Story Circle Network endure time and space. You and Pattie will see each other again and raise glasses of wine in celebration. This is a beautiful tribute to your friend.


  2. This is a heart-warming story … and wonderful way to honor Pattie. I am stirred by your intuition to take the glasses – somehow recognizing a special purpose yet-to-materialize. And Pattie’s glass stayed put till you retrieved it – synchronicity.


  3. Aren’t friends like Patti just the best gift life bestows. What a lovely tribute to your precious friend.


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