In Tribute to Pattie
I recently had the opportunity to FaceTime with my dear sweet long term “sister” friend Pattie who lives far away from me. We were making plans to get together at our upcoming big 50th reunion. I dragged Pattie to my fifth High School reunion and have been making her go to every one ever since. We always have a great time and even room together some of the time. Here is a photo at our 25th reunion with another one of my sister friends, Marci, and a friend since Brownies, and elementary school, Roberta.
As I have aged, I have become a sentimental sap of sorts, and that means my dear friends from my high school era have become even more important to me. I love them as if they are family – they are precious jewels to me, and they become even more dear to my heart as I age. They all know who they are, hopefully, because I tell them how much I love them and I work hard to keep in touch with them. Though they are part of my high school era, they are every bit as relevant and important to me today. If friends are one’s riches (and I subscribe to that theory) then I am a billionaire.
Pattie has made sure she never missed any of my major life events, including bar and bat mitzvahs of my children, my wedding to my husband. She is THAT kind of friend that will travel to the ends of the earth to celebrate with me.
Lately I have not had a lot of opportunities to talk to Pattie, but each time I do, it is like no time has passed between us. Our personalities still blend together effortlessly, and she still amuses me to no end as she is as sassy as ever. (with a bit of sarcasm and wit thrown in, just like ME.) My husband calls her a “pip.” (His lingo for someone utterly witty and charming.)
She is busy working, and until recently was care taking her elderly mom for a long time, similar to how I take care of my 95 year old dad’s needs and juggle a full time job and grand babies. She also had a very long distance move, and then another move.
So between the two of us and our busy schedules, it is hard to find those moments. Oh, but when we do, it is wonderful.
I met Pattie at the start of my senior year in high school in our advanced History class. Pattie was an all-around academic champ, and a gorgeous, tall, long-legged, vivacious, assistant-captain of our cheer-leading squad. I was immediately drawn to her sassy, hold-no-prisoners witty personality, plus admired her for her beauty and brains. I thought to myself at that time (clever girl that I was) that I absolutely MUST become best friends with her.
Sure enough, we became besties, with long phone calls about boyfriends, note passing in school, etc. I am one of the few people in her life who remember how her mom called her “Patricia” with a Spanish flair, and I still call her that sometimes. To the rest of us, she was Pattie. I remember so many details, it is a bit scary for some.
Extremely busy in high school, like me, Pattie juggled a boyfriend, cheer-leading, and a part time job throughout. (I was in the dance club, not a cheerleader) It seems I had met my match for someone who was way too busy, yet gave loads of time to those she cared about, and yes I was one of those lucky people.
Pattie was to be admired for many reasons – she came to the US as a pre-teen from Argentina, so English was not her first language and she juggled accent-free English with her home language of Spanish. Her home life was difficult, and money was tight. Her dream (another reason to admire her) was to become a doctor or a dentist. This was in the early 1970’s when it was rare for a female to express this interest. Due to her ambitions, grades were super important to her. I was a classic underachiever as I made top grades when I applied myself, and had advanced courses, but I was much more interested in my boyfriend and my social life through high school. I dreamed of becoming an author or writer, yet the practical plan was to become a teacher, as many of my era planned. Yet, she inspired me to do better in school and as I watched her work so hard, I learned from her example.
The reasons I admired her in high school became moot when I later saw her overcome formidable challenging circumstances in her quest for success. It still brings a lump to my throat to think how heroic she was in doing that and becoming a total unequivocal success story. None of the many challenges she faced had her throw in the towel on her dreams and ambitions, and she stayed laser focused on her goals. (I will not be so intrusive as to go into any of these challenges, but read my Behind Closed Doors blog to get an idea.) I have not adequately expressed my admiration of this to her (I probably have but maybe fell on deaf ears) so I have to include that in this tribute.
Going back to high school, and I must include photos of how I remember her, try to imagine a beautiful, tall, long-legged Argentinian beauty with wit and brains to match. That was Pattie. She had everything going for her, but she NEVER EVER KNEW IT. That was another reason we became so close – I never knew my abilities, talents and looks as I blossomed either – we both had poor self-esteem, so we were like twins in that respect.
This Superwoman became a dentist in an era when few women opted for medical careers. Most of us females in that era were teachers, social workers, or speech pathologists as our college majors. She became a successful dentist in the heart of Manhattan in New York City with her own practice. (She retired from that and now has another career in another medical field.)
So here are some funny stories just to highlight some of our fun times:
Senior year, any time school was closed, but colleges were open, I would visit colleges. Pattie intended to go local to Temple, and was hoping for me to join her but I had my sights set on Penn State. Still, I went to check out Temple on several occasions.
The first time I went to Temple, I went with a guy friend named Deba. He took me to one specific class and was more than happy to escort an attractive girl into class. (Deba was sort of a wise guy who liked showing off.) His escorting me was noted by at least one other guy classmate. (Read on.)
A few weeks later, I went again with Deba, because this time, we took Pattie along. After this same class, a guy from Deba’s class came up to us, and looked Deba in the eyes, after looking the two of us over, and said, “Wow, tomorrow, the world.” I think he was impressed with Deba bringing pretty girls to his class, and we all had a big laugh about this afterwards. (And Deba accomplished his goal at improving his “image.”) The sad thing is that I am the only one (with my savant long term memory) to recall every detail about that moment in time. For Pattie and Deba, I supply the funny memories.
In the adult era, I left my ex-husband due to a terrible betrayal, and Pattie said, “If Martin (her long time husband) ever did that, I would murder him. Prison would be okay, because they need good dentists there!”
Here’s another: Pattie, being the sweet accommodating friend, walked with me to the ends of the earth on several occasions that I made her go to the beach area where we grew up and made her back hurt and her feet become sore. (It is insane how much walking is involved with all the sights and with visiting.) Pattie is not the exercise fiend I am, and she was a total trooper. At the end of the last one, she said, “Remind me to not ever do this again with you – I am worn out!”
Last memory, we went to see “Beautiful” on Broadway together, and we stayed too long at dinner beforehand. With traffic, we were about to miss the start of the show, and we would not be allowed to enter the theater when the curtain went up. There was no way I was going to miss ANY of this show where we had second row tickets. With our taxi stuck in traffic, we bailed on the taxi, and literally ran at top speed the rest of the six blocks to the theater. In middle age, this is tough for anyone to do – especially in nice clothes and shoes, and we made it with 30 seconds to go into our seats, completely spent and out of breath, and her glaring at me with menacing eyes for putting her through that. (But, hey, we got to see the entire show!! Fabulous show!) We did laugh about it afterwards, but I think as we age, she is rethinking the exertion to her body that is necessary when getting together with me!!
Back to the present: We ended our FaceTime call as we always do in our farewells, with a simple, but sincere, “I love you.” And I feel fortunate we are still around to tell each other that whenever we can. Pattie, I am not stuck in the past, but I love our past, our present, and look forward to our future. I love you.
What a memory!
I call it time travel. I can actually picture scenes in my mind and travel back to them and visualize the entire thing. It is amazing and I love this rare ability. I found out it has a name Eidetic memory. Lucky me!
What a beautiful tribute to not only Pattie, who I remember well, but to friendship. I can tell you really understand the value of our most precious friends- I do too! Love your writing!
How amazingly wonderful that you can remember the happy and funny details of a dear friendship.,Only thing I have to challenge is your self-esteem level of that era. I find it very hard to believe it ever dipped low for either of you. Have a great 50th!
You are so wrong and you would be surprised how many pretty girls had low self-esteem in those days. Different times. I was a junior high nerd and never got my confidence back after that.
Great message here about a strong bond between friends. I clearly remember Patty’s smile and energy. It will be great to see everyone at our 50th! Best regards, Gary
I am honored that you have taken an active role and cannot wait to see you at the 50th! Thanks for taking the time to comment!
You are both 2 very special people and truly blessed.
I remember Pattie in elementary school – a beautiful, exotic girl from far-off Argentina and very sweet. We were friends – not sure she remembers, but I never forgot. My best friend from Jr. High remains my best friend to this day- Jaimie Shuster Johnson. And we end every conversation also with “I love you”.
Chills from your staying in touch with Jaimie because having moved away myself, I know what it takes to keep in touch and keep close. Kudos!
Also, Pattie was considered exotic to me as well – that’s how white bread we were! I distinctly remember thinking that about her at first. She turned out to be the All-American girl!