Sunday, May 25, 2014

Remembering Patty

"Hiya sweetheart!"
~ Patricia Marie Hush

Patty (at left) with sisters Barbara and Joan.
My beloved oldest sister Patty was born on this day in 1931. Her bright light left us on November 23, 2013. My other sisters, along with my nieces and nephews and friends who knew her, put our heads together to share memories of Patty — photos of her, the music she loved, the things she used to say.

My niece Heather summed up the Patty effect well: "She was such a blessing to us all. Anyone who spent any amount of time with her left more compassionate and light-hearted. She was one of the best gifts/life lessons we could have received as children."

Patty was intellectually disabled — mentally retarded, as we used to say before "retarded" became a shaming word. She never learned to read or write. But she was brilliant about people. Her social skills were better than mine will ever be. She was also the family's memory keeper. She forgot nothing, but forgave a lot. She went through some extremely hard times in her life, but her joyous spirit bounced back and became a source of buoyancy to us all.

Let's start with a couple of the songs she loved. "Down by the Old Mill Stream" is a song my dad was known to sing and pantomime to at the dinner table. Patty always chimed in.

This was another favorite — Tex Beneke's version of "Five Minutes More."

My niece Hilary remembered how much Patty adored babies — and here's photographic proof. She would often ask my mom when she would get married and have a baby. The knowledge that it wasn't likely to happen broke her heart.

Another niece, Deirdre, was the first to point out "Hiya sweetheart!" — Patty's oh-so cheerful greeting. It never failed to put a smile on the face of whoever entered the room.

Hilary also remembered the way Patty would inevitably shout out "Happy Christmas!" during a quiet moment at Christmas Mass. She adored Christmases and birthdays. I vividly remember her during my first Christmases on the planet; Patty would sit in a chair and make a fuss over every gift she received.

Even this shower cap — a stocking gift. On Patty's lap you can see one of the Christmas stockings that my Aunt Ella made for all of us.

Whatever Patty said, she meant it. My friend Dawn remembers a night when she slept over at my family's house and woke to find Patty touching her long blond hair saying "So beautiful." She said those words, coming from Patty, meant more to her than all the praise guys gave her (she was gorgeous) because she knew it was sincere.

A few more photos:

Patty with my mom and our dog Gay at our house on Dune Road.
Patty on Easter with our cousin Tommy and sisters Terry, Barbara and me.

Patty flanked by sisters Betsy and Terry in 2009.

Finally, two of my all-time favorite photos, which capture one of the things I miss most: Patty's big, bright smile.