Shortly before Christmas Lee’s cousin Patricia fell on the black ice in front of their home in Lodi, cracking her head severely. As she staggered to the bathroom to stop the bleeding, she insisted over and over, “I can take care of this.” Alas, she was bleeding from the front, middle, and back of her brain.
Following a helicopter ride to UCDavis, it was determined it was not something anyone could take care of. Pat’s last words were so much like the way she lived her entire life.
Of course I don’t know the whole story, but it bears repeating in order to understand the context of Patricia’s life. The story, as I heard it, follows: Verne, Lee’s dad, was about 14, living in the family home in Emeryville where his cantankerous father eked out a living truck farming. I once saw the two story frame farm house, but it has now been demolished.
On this day Grandfather Lee was so mad at the plow horse’s behavior he beat it to death, his son, Verne, observing. Seconds after the horse fell down dead so did his father. A stroke of anger no doubt took him.
Altogether Mother Lee bore 21 children in that big house, only ten living to adulthood. The youngest, her favorite, she named Jewel. “Mother’s Precious Jewel” as he came to be known, grew to a handsome adult, with an outgoing personality. I suspect he was spoiled. Her adoration of him was so significant that some of his siblings and later on their spouses felt resentful.
Jewel married a beautiful woman who turned out to be unfaithful. Following an affair with another family member (don’t all families have scandals?) she attempted suicide, but the attempt failed and left her emotionally and physically disabled, or as they said in those days, “never the same.” Patricia stepped up to the plate, and became the mother to her younger brother. Ever afterward her main goal in life was first of all to be a good mother, a goal she accomplished with incredible success.
What is fascinating to me is that Pat and Paul’s four adult children walk such different paths in life and yet all were adored as if each were named Jewel. Considering her roots, how is it that Pat came to be the special mother that she was? I suspect the ten grandchildren who stood on the stage of Montclair Presbyterian last Saturday singing in unison for their grandmother will follow in the same footsteps, each being celebrated for their uniqueness. I am blessed to have them in my life.