In January of 1953, my sister Patsy came into the world, two weeks late and weighing nearly ten pounds. My mother delivered her in a record forty-five minutes with only a martini consumed earlier for pain relief. The first two children, my brother and I, had light brown hair and blue eyes. This third baby was to be named Jeannie, as in “I Dream of Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair.” One look at the new baby with a full head of black hair and brown eyes and that name was discarded. She was nameless for a week, and they finally named her Patricia after a friend’s daughter.
Patsy was a happy, outgoing, very social kid. She made friends easily, much more easily than I. She spent many hours at other people’s homes, deciding that the tension in our family was not typical and that she could do better. She hitchhiked through Europe after high school with a close friend, even going to Morocco. I never got to hear the details of that foolhardy trek. She went to college, finished nursing school, got a Master’s in Public Administration, and spent her working life in Kaiser Permanente as an executive.
Two years ago today she died in her sleep, the way she had hoped, after a lengthy and ultimately fatal third bout with breast cancer, a disease she endured for twelve years. I was able to FaceTime with her shortly before she died and we had a final connection of tears and laughter. She said that she would wait for me and that we would see each other again. Her faith was rock solid, and I borrowed some of it as we talked.
Losing Patsy, the only sibling I had any connection with, was a great loss. But her struggle had utterly worn her out and she was more than ready to go. Peace dear one.