Saturday, May 12, 2012

kate and patsy

Kate and Patsy in 1979
They were much more like sisters than mother and daughter. For starters, they were only twenty one years apart. Also, they didn't act like mother and daughter per se- they were lifelong best friends, and all but inseparable. And neither of them exactly acted like a grown up all that often.

In over a year of writing, I can't believe I hadn't written about Kate. My brave and pragmatic Missouri born Grandmother. The one who married too hastily, and focused her energy on the children she loved. She played the hand she was dealt with laughter and courage. She all but lived with us during my childhood, while always maintaining an apartment to ensure her independence.

They both loved to surprise the other. Like the time in 1979 when we moved to a new house and Patsy didn't tell Kate. She knew we were planning to move, of course, and was rather dreading the whole thing. So when we had the opportunity to move up the actual date, we conveniently forgot to mention it. I picked her at her apartment and drove her to our house, stopping off at the new house to check on something. And there we were, all moved in and set up. She just about fainted. Score one for Patsy and I.

Then there was Kate's birthday that year. Mom had taken her for her birthday weekend to the brand new Hyatt Regency hotel in Flint. They had a formal dinner on Friday night, and were enjoying a casual luncheon in the atrium on Saturday when the Gorilla appeared with the birthday balloon bouquet. Fortunately, there just happened to be a photographer there to record the presentation for history. Score one more for Patsy, with another assist to yours truly. I still have the picture.

And that led to the Big Party. Of course, Kate wanted to return the favor. She and I talked the family into a big surprise birthday party for Patsy. We had made plans that bordered on military precision involving refreshments, decorations, and even staging the guests down the block at a rendezvous point to preserve the element of surprise. Kind of a challenge doing a surprise party for Mother in her own home, you see.

We sneaked supplies and decorations into the house for weeks. All went well until the afternoon of the party, when Mom was unexpectedly home. I fidgeted, looking out the window at my poor Volkswagen so full of booze that it hunkered down on its axles.

"Not to worry", said Kate. She put all the butter down the garbage disposal, then began making chocolate chip cookies. "Patsy, we're out of butter" she called out in angst. Mom couldn't believe that the butter she had just purchased was already gone, but somewhat reluctantly agreed to go get some more. That have us the crucial time we needed to unload the car and set up the basement decorations.

Three hours later, I went out for a walk and met approximately 40 guests at the cul de sac. We all walked to the front door, lit the candles on the cake that happened to be in my hands, and rang the bell. Mom answered the door in absolute shock. The party proceeded downstairs where everything had been prepared in secret- food, a punch bowl, a fully set up bar- in short, a gigantic party, totally under the radar. We got her good that time. A big one for Kate and myself as raconteurs. It was a fabulous time.

This is my fourth Mother's Day now without either of them, and it doesn't seem to get any easier, just more remote. The only thing that makes it bearable is the thought they are together. And wherever they are, there's laughter and mischief. That's what happens with pranskters like those two around.

Happy Mother's Day Kate and Patsy, my darling girls. I'm so grateful for all the crazy and wonderful times we had together. I love you both so much.

Originally published in 2008. 


lynette said...

They were the luckiest of women to have you as their greatest fan. These stories about the women in your life say as much about you, Jeff, as they do about the (very fabulous, wonderful) ladies. Great post, thank you.

Anonymous said...

That's so wonderful! Charming.

Christopher Bilcheck said...

What fun stories! Loved reading this and could visualize the parties and fun!