Saturday, March 16, 2013

Remembering Auntie P

A few weeks ago, my cousin in law Karen asked if I would write a blog about my Aunt Pat in honor of her birthday. I never thought about it and really wondered why I hadn't sooner? My Aunt Pat was one of the biggest influences in my young life and truly a wonderful role model.

Aunt Pat was my mom's aunt, her father's sister and one of the only living relatives on that side of the family. After my grandfather's death when I was five, she was the only member of his family we had left and our only link to his family. We often made trips up to Visalia to visit her and her family for different events or as a pit stop on family vacations.

Years later, I would wear the same pearls for my senior picture

Aunt Pat was born to Edwin and Ruby Davis. Ruby was full blooded Cherokee Indian and their children were raised to revere their Indian heritage. Unfortunately Edwin left Ruby and their small children  to fend for themselves. The best way for Ruby to care for the children was to give them to family members with no children. Aunt Pat went to one aunt and uncle while my grandfather went to another. It was very devastating for the family to be ripped apart. Aunt Pat and my grandfather developed a very strong bond after these events, a bond that lasted for a lifetime.

My "Kankad' his mom and sister Pat

I love how she is holding her brother's arm in this picture. She loved him so.

Later as adults, they were separated by geography when Aunt Pat moved to California with her husband Bob. After some time, my grandfather found work in California and the two families moved in together. My mom has always talked fondly of their time living with Aunt Pat and Uncle Bob. My grandparents bought a house in Whittier while Pat and Bob moved a few hundred miles away to a small town in central California, Visalia.

Aunt Pat, My Gramie, My Mom and I think Unky ( he was the uncle who raised aunt P)

As I grew up, we often went to visit Aunt Pat and her boys. As I have shared before her sons were like brothers to my mom and were a huge part of our lives. I loved going to see their family and hang out in their small town. I spent many summer months with her and her husband uncle Bob. I always dreamed of someday going to live with Aunt Pat and going to college in Visalia after I got out of high school.

My Sister and I with Aunt Pat. Loved this weekend, I danced on her fireplace with those flowers singing Gloria

Auntie ''P'' as I called her worked as a aide at Redwood high school helping with ESL students who had emigrated from another country. She touched countless lives with her gentle spirit and kindness. She was one of the best listeners I have ever met. Always she had a ready ear, good advice and kind words.

Aunt Pat and I together.

She lived in her Birkenstocks, loved hamburgers and always had candy bars hidden away. She was a Type 1 diabetic who suffered greatly from the insidious disease. She had a very tough life but you would've never known that. She was essentially orphaned, lost all of her family members before she was fifty, buried a son and dealt with  many other tough struggles in her life.

Yet, she always maintained a bright smile, a sense of humor like no other, always had a kind word and could make you feel like a thousand bucks.She was my hero, I looked up to her, revered her and loved her greatly. I even wrote an essay very similar to this blog on her during my senior year in high school, I gave it to her and she knew how I felt about her.

When I graduated high school, she gave me the pearls she wore when she graduated high school. I wore them in my senior picture and on my wedding day.

 Eventually, I made the move to Visalia with my young family to live near her. For almost a year, I got to live near  my aunt Pat and it was a dream come true. She was my rock during that time, the same time that saw her lose kidney function, end up on dialysis and lose both legs. I am so glad that I got to spend the last 12 months of her life with her and will never forget that precious time.
Conner in Aunt P's kitchen while she and I talk

Auntie P holding baby E

For years, I would often drive by her house and wish I could go in to see her. I have tried to honor her memory by loving her sons, trying to be the kind of person she was and loving God. My aunt Pat loved God and never gave up her faith even in darkness.

Auntie P was a rare gem, truly a wonderful lady. It has been 13 years since she's been gone yet she has never really felt far away at all. She lives on in my life, as I wrote this blog I could see her impact on my life in clearly defined imprints and I think you will too. Words could never bring her to life or do her justice, at least I could try to share a bit from this wonderful woman's life to inspire as she inspired me.

Aunt Pat loved all of her grandkids, great nieces and nephews!