for Pat Adair, and the people who love her...

Our beloved Pat got some shocking news recently, and we're off and running on a mysterious medical adventure. Not an adventure we would have picked, but we're off just the same... (If you're new to the blog, start here.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Nine days, 23 hours - but who's counting?

Today's post was written by Dave's good friend Whitney:

Hello friends and family of Pat,

I spent a warm evening with Pat and Dave on Friday night, and Dave asked me to write a word or two about it. Pat is looking extremely well and is having a great week since leaving the hospital. I think she must be tired of hearing people say, “You look GREAT!” when what they’re really thinking is, “You sure don’t look like a person with cancer.” And she doesn’t. It’s confusing. And a relief. Lets dare to believe things might just work out fine.

Dave and Whitney in Mexico, 1996.
Ten years ago, Dave and I had several long, meandering conversations with Pat’s Mom, Elgin, when we were passing through Orange County on our way to Mexico (and Central America, though we didn’t know at the time that we were headed that far). I come back to these conversations often, because she taught me so much about how life is long and how much love and life comes after even the most unbearable losses.

Friday’s conversation with Pat started there with stories of her Mom, and then we ranged over the history of the Johnsons and the Woods. She got out the wonderful book of Crook family history (what a deeply generous gift to future generations!) and Pat shared recollections of uncles, aunts, grand uncles, grand aunts and cousins. We pieced together Pat’s own early chronology, which isn’t as easy as you might think because she and her immediate family moved pretty much every year until they landed in Southern California, bought some land and built a house (garage first, with the whole family of 6 living in one room, until there was a mudroom, then a bedroom to share with her sister and eventually a kitchen).

I have an abiding interest in what it means to have a sense of place, and Pat and Elgin’s lives have strong place-based themes, beginning of course with Star Valley and ranging over the years to family centers in California and Utah. Friday happened to be one of those sharp blue early summer days, contrasting sprawling and green Walnut Creek against the sparse browning hills of Mt Diablo, so typically California. This is where Dave, Pat and Mike and his family have made their place for a long time now. We talked about what California means to both Dave and Pat, and what it means to be “from” somewhere.

We got to talking about how much the various family reunions have meant to her over the years. She related how brother Bob sent out the invitation to bring the Wood clan together one year and pretty much left the details to Pat and Char, lots of work but so very rewarding and memorable. She described the color-coded t-shirts that helped everyone remember who belonged to what part of the extended family. I asked her if she felt deeply connected to people she perhaps didn’t know or hadn’t seen in a while, and she responded urgently, eyes widening, “Oh yes! Absolutely!”

It is so helpful to be reminded that we are part of a long chain reaching backwards and ahead. We three talked quite openly and easily about death on Friday night, but it was in a sense-making way, not heavy or tearful, gently sharing how losing a grandmother or a parent ties us more meaningfully into that web through shared experience.

The extended Adair/Wood/Johnson/Crook family history continues to instruct me, and I am so grateful to be connected in a small way your big loving web of life, even if we have never met.



Whitney and Dave (on the far right) last weekend
with friends at Tassajara Zen Center.


At May 19, 2008 12:15 PM , Anonymous Mari Jo said...

How beautifully written about some very meaningful and beautiful conversations. How blessed is Pat to have you in her life. I am sure she knows. Please hug her for me.
Love, Mari Jo

At May 24, 2008 12:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grandma taught us well, didn't she Aunt Pat? We are so blessed to have such an incredible, rich family history. I love that bits and pieces book. I'm so glad you're doing well. I love how we get to keep tabs on what's going on when you are so far away! You're family is awesome.
Love, Julie

At May 27, 2008 10:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Adairs! Grant and Kim and I just finished up two wonderful days at Johnson's Mill and thought of you with great tenderness. we'll have some great photos to show you when we are back in Concord at the beginning of June. we are having an amazing trip with Grant - meeting the wonderful people whose lives he influenced (and vice versa) during his missionary service in Utah. St. George and Heber Valley are certainly the two most beautiful places he served and we've been so fortunate to meet truly extraordinary people in both places. All best wishes with hugs to all of you, Love Kim


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