Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Patricia Robinson 1936-2003

Today is my dear friend, Patricia Robinson's birthday. But she isn't here to celebrate it with us.

For 30 years, Pat and Tom were traveling Europe, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand. They shared their homes with us in Cancun and in Floresville, Texas, Friday night pizzas and movies, laughing about our kids, crying about our kids, birth of grandchildren and loss of parents. We shared our lives with each other. So today I'm laughing and crying as I think about Pat.

Pat was a beautiful, small slender woman with deepset brown eyes that could be so full of mischief or cold as ice. She had self-confidence, strength and a will of steel that ran everything around her, although sometimes people didn't know that because Pat handled things so well but I can assure that it was going to be done her way. Pat had an understated but flashy elegance in the way she dressed, the way she decorated their home, the way she landscaped her gardens. Not flashy like "Dynasty" but with a real style.

And Pat was competitive. She couldn't just play golf. Never! She always played to win and win she did in tournament after tournament. She was competitive and if her friends were doing it, she would do it too. Usually she could it better but one or two things got her down. Didn't stop her. She would hang in there confident she could master that too. I remember a time when all of us "girls" were knitting sweaters. Pat bought yarn and started knitting too. I think Helen and I spent as much time unraveling her mistakes as she did knitting on it but she finished that sweater and several others with a little help from her friends. The thing that amazed me about it was that when she finished it, it looked really good on her.

Pat was fun to be with. She was a great guest because she always came dressed for the party and ready to party. She also knew how to give a party. She always said that if you set a good "party scene" then the guests would think the food was good too. For a while we were paired in a gourmet dinner group. We cooked about once a year and when we did it was a three day "event" for us. We always pulled off a stunning table and really, really good food. But I'm thinking of one of the dinners where we were quite ambitious and had a disaster with a recipe or two. We never tried out anything a head of time. So we were running a bit late with our preparations. As usual we had Ned and Tommy helping us. One of their tasks was to hollow out some acorn squash to make a bowl for a zucchini soup. They wanted to watch the football game and moved some TV trays into the den to do it while we were working in the kitchen. You would not believe the mess. Squash and seeds everywhere. Now we are down to finishing up so we can get dressed but we had to "re-do" the den. Guests were coming in an hour. We were like a whirling dervish, then we rushed off to dress and dress we did for the gourmet dinners. When the guest came, Pat and I were in cocktail dresses and full make-up and we looked cool as cucumbers but everytime anyone gave a compliment or when we looked at each other across the room, it was hard not to giggle.

I always think of Pat as a Steel Magnolia.....she was a warm charming woman but when she combined that with her strong will, she could get what she wanted. One time Pat, Helen and I had gone to Mexico on a "shopping trip." We accomplished our objective and when we arrived at the airport to depart for Houston, we had not only our extra suitcases full but other boxes and bags. The ticket agent tells us that we will have to pay extra because we can only have two pieces of luggage each. Pat speaks Spanish very well so she is the talking with the agent. I've seen her go into this routine before so between the words that I can understand and her fluttering eye lashes, I know she is telling him, "Oh, my goodness, what am I going to do. My husband is going to be so upset with me, etc, etc, etc." Scarlet O'Hara couldn't have done it better. Fortunately the ticket agent was a man so her "persuasion" worked. He disappeared, came back with some twine and tied our luggage pieces together until we only had two pieces each. As we walked away from the ticket counter, I said, "Paaatrica..." She just looked at me with this mischievous grin and said, "Shush, it worked didn't it."

Pat was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain in April of 2003 and she died that Christmas Eve. I still don't know how that disease could take such a vibrant life-force so fast. I think of her most days. I miss so many things about her but I guess that most of all I miss being able to pick up the telephone and talk.

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