Becky Says...

July 2005

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In Memoriam, Belatedly - July 1

Forty years ago this summer was the second of two summers I went to the school held at Western Carolina University. One of the students who was in my class both summers was a boy from Chapel Hill named Pat. He made quite an impression on his classmates, because he was a guitar player and a singer and a fairly decent actor for an eleven-year-old. We put on a play that second summer, James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks, and Pat was the Minstrel.

That he was a little standoffish toward some of us was basically overlooked. Most of us who were there had our own variations on shyness going, and we understood. But let him get his guitar and start working on the music for the show, and he was in his element. The show itself ended the summer session, and since we had aged out of the program at that point, we knew it was unlikely that we would all be together again.

Although I kept up with several of those classmates for a number of years, I never tried to keep in touch with Pat, and have no idea if he showed up at the reunion commemorating the program's twenty-fifth year in the early 1970s (which I missed because it was during college summer school).

In 1976, when I was finishing college, I was startled to see an obituary notice for Pat. I thought it was a little odd that he had died in San Francisco, but the notice went on to say his sister lived there, so I assumed that he had either planned to move there himself or was visiting her. Whichever, I was sad for all concerned.

Several years passed. At Non-Profit Agency #1, one of the volunteers happened to mention his parents one day, and when I mentioned something about having known Pat, she got very quiet. She asked if I knew he was dead, and then told me he had committed suicide, by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was sad, hard, and a little frightening to hear that Pat, the golden-haired minstrel, had become so overwhelmed with life that he wanted it to end.

What has made me wander through all these memories tonight is learning that Pat's mother died earlier this week. In reading her obituary, I learned more of the family's history, and learned that Pat's father had died during the time I was away caring for my mother and was not always able to keep up with local news. The other children in the family are the survivors.

I hope those who are now mourning and for whom the earlier mourning times have been brought back to mind are able to find solace in good memories.

And I hope Pat and his parents are all resting in peace.

Text © copyright 2000-2005 Becky