Patty was one of the first people I met up here. She was an amazing cook. Talked a mile a minute. She still had her Irish accent and swore. A lot. But in a charming way.
From what I could gather, she grew up on a wealthy horse farm somewhere on the Irish coast. In her seven decades, she’d had adventures all over the world. Quite a few of them with her first husband. But when they came to Canada and settled down, the marriage went really sour. So much so that she ran away to this part of the world and changed her name. And married Gale.
Their farm is just down the road. Gale is a whiz at carpentry and other things mechanical and built Patty pretty well anything she could conjure up. And he learned to love Patty’s horses. He adored her.
But last year Patty had a stroke. Her systems were shutting down. They only gave her weeks to live. But damn if she didn’t pull through. She went through rehab and on many days you could still see the spark was there. But she was never the same. She passed away about a year after she had her first bad turn.
Gale was devastated. And angry.
Our friend up the road who is the most nurturing and efficient homemaker I have ever met… finally gave up trying to help Gale clean up the house and clear away some of Patty’s belongings. He just would not budge. And while we all worried about him in that house, we gave up trying to change anything.
Until the other day.
We had invited Gale for roast beef dinner. He showed up in a lovely shirt, bearing a bottle of Shiraz in one hand and a bag in the other.
“These were Patty’s,” he said simply. In the bag, a pair of Wellies, with the top three inches cut off so they came up just past the ankle. “She hated them when they were too high,” he said. And then out came a roll that looked like a sheepskin lining. He held it up with a laugh that caught in his throat. ” She loved this thing. She wore it to tend to the horses and feed the chickens, sometimes right over her pyjamas,” he said a bit naughtily. Then he looked right at me. “Would you wear it?”
Well that was a couple of weeks ago. I wear that sweater to collect firewood, shovel the drive and go for hikes. It is not fine wool or high-tech polyester. But somehow it has amazing warmth – maybe because it is so big.
I didn’t know Patty all that well. So I am surprised that Gale gave me that sweater. And surprised at how much it means to me.
Probably because I wear it to do things Patty loved to do. But there’s something else.
Hanging it on a hook the other day, I discovered a name tag. Mary H….
That was Patty’s real name. And although she was Patty to everyone here for miles around.. she never forgot the past that brought her to the place that she loved.