You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘soulmates’ tag.

On Thanksgiving in 2006, I was reminiscing with my Aunt Pat and Uncle Andy about our frequent outings to New York City when I was little. I was remembering walks in the park, movies in midtown, fancy restaurants. One time I asked for ketchup with my steak…Wasn’t that silly of me? I laughed. Good thing my taste has improved as I have gotten older. Ah, good times.

My aunt and uncle looked at me incredulously, and then my Aunt Pat said, “Jennifer, we only took you to the City twice.”

I was speechless.

Before you say to yourself – here is yet another example of how Jen has created an alternate reality in her head – I will beat you to it. Clearly, my memory of spending time with Pat and Andrew was a bit exaggerated, but with good reason. To a precocious girl of nine years, it was extremely meaningful that a sophisticated couple like Aunt Pat and Uncle Andrew took an interest in me.

I thought their life together was fascinating. They complimented each other perfectly. Pat was fun-loving and Andy had a wicked sense of humor. She laughed frequently and with abandon and he had plenty of material to fuel her outbursts of laughter. They enjoyed each other’s company and spent many afternoons or evenings sitting in their backyard or on their porch, Pat enjoying a cocktail while Andrew smoked his pipe. They enjoyed music, visited museums, read lots of books. They were an intellectual couple, eschewing TV-watching to such a degree that they only had a small black and white television set which was hidden in a closet. As a child, that fact was simultaneously maddening and admirable.

They were also fascinating to me as individuals. Pat made me want to be a working woman. Her life seemed glamorous as she ventured into New York City each day to work at a prestigious company like IBM. Pat’s career achievements were especially notable since she was one of few women in the technology field in the 1970s. I was amazed at her ability and willingness to be a pioneer. Pat showed me that it was worthwhile to strive and it paid off to make your own rules.

My Uncle Andrew was a writer, a career choice I found intriguing. I loved sneaking off to pore over Andrew’s stash of Cracked magazines, and I would spend an hour just skimming old issues for his writing and jokes. I thought it was remarkable that his observations on life were so sharp and witty that someone wanted to publish them in print.  My aunt and uncle were urbane, and I wanted to be like them.

Even in light of these outward achievements, Pat and Andy were extremely accessible people, and their approach to Thanksgiving was embodied how warm and inclusive they were. Each year when I arrived to their house there was someone new: a distant cousin of Pat’s from West Virginia who happened to be in town, a coworker from decades ago, a friend who couldn’t make it home to visit his family, a fellow cyclist who just wanted to join the fun. It never occurred to either Pat or Andrew that they shouldn’t invite more people over, that there might not be enough chairs or enough food. They just embraced everyone and let the rest work itself out. It always did.

As I grew into adulthood our relationship evolved into friendship. Aunt Pat and Uncle Andrew mentored me, encouraging me to follow my instincts, to take calculated risks with my career, and to make the most of the life I have to live. When I contemplated leaving public education for a career in the corporate world, they helped me put aside my doubts and take the leap. That decision was a defining one in my life, and their faith in me was crucial at a time when I was unsure of myself. After twelve years in the corporate world I yearned to start my own consulting firm, and again Pat and Andrew encouraged me to trust in my abilities and in myself. As a result a whole new world of opportunities has become available to me.

I continued to uncover new reasons to appreciate each of them. I noted the depth of my Uncle Andrew’s kindness and generosity toward others. Whether he was visiting my ailing grandparents multiple times per day or spending hours coaching aspiring cyclists who don’t know how to get started, he never expected anything in return. Andrew demonstrated to me how caring for other people makes one’s own life more significant.

As I learned more about my Aunt Pat, it was her bravery that struck me. Pat survived two World Trade Center bombings and helped others to safety both times. She and I spoke over the phone on September 14, 2001 when I was living in Texas, and I was surprised to realize she was comforting me because I was far from our family, even though she was the one who had just had a near-death experience, days before.

Andrew’s caring and Pat’s bravery was the crux of their relationship during their last years together on Earth. Pat was extremely brave during a battle with cancer that lasted over two years, and I know her strength was grounded in how Andy attended to her. Pat needed to be as fun-loving as her body would allow, and Andy facilitated that by enabling her to stay at home and have as close to a “normal” life as possible. Even the day before Pat died, she and I sat on her front porch with her daughter and her sister, telling stories while Pat nursed a martini. It was clear she was losing strength, but she wouldn’t let her spirit be subdued by her fading body. I am appreciative to Pat for being so brave and to Andy for creating an environment in which she could be that way. I am indebted to both of them for leaving me with such an indelible happy memory of her.

I am unbelievably thankful for having had someone like Aunt Pat in my life. I am extremely grateful to still have Uncle Andrew with me now. There is no doubt in my heart that I will be given the opportunity to see them together again, because Pat and Andrew are soulmates. I feel lucky to have witnessed their relationship.

Happy Thanksgiving.

About Me

The purpose of this blog is purely self-expression - being creative for the sake of being creative. It has evolved into a collection of non-fiction essays.

All of the anecdotes and incidents you read in this blog are completely true and not exaggerated, no matter how sad, pathetic or unbelievable they may seem.

Read more...

© Operation Peace and Serenity, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Operation Peace and Serenity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.