Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Live in the light

Before my Aunt Patty had children of her own, I have a memory of spending an afternoon in her kitchen. I don't know if she had offered/agreed to babysit or if perhaps she had invited us over for the express purpose of helping my sister and me bake Valentine's Day cookies for our mom and dad. What I remember is making a mess and being allowed to be generous with the red hots when decorating the cookies. Fast forward a few years and Patty has children of her own. In the locker room at the YMCA one evening when both of our families were there for swim lessons or swim practice or something, I took it upon myself to curl and style the hair of her oldest daughter, then about five or six. Yes, her hair looked pretty good when I was finished but at a price. Still a novice at hair-curling, I burned my cousin's forehead with the curling iron and not just a little bit. Though my aunt could have scolded me or made me feel even worse about what I had done, I have no memories of her doing so. She was the kind of person who understood good intentions and the everyday reality that people make mistakes. I have many other wonderful memories of my Aunt Patty. The rock hard vegetable pizza she made and then gleefully served on the beach in Destin is now legendary. I still laugh thinking about the memorable game of Trivial Pursuit one Christmas when her answer for every question was the hilarious "Lard Ass Jeans." My favorite photograph ever taken of my sister LAP was snapped by my Aunt Patty. It features my sister as a toddler, digging in the dirt while wearing sunglasses and only remnants--tights and an undershirt--of her Easter finery. I remember my aunt as kind, supportive, loyal, generous, humble, and, when she was feeling good, so much fun.

Five years ago in July, my aunt died of depression. Family members and friends gathered this weekend to celebrate her life. We gathered to laugh, drink, and eat. To catch up and share stories. We also gathered to affirm the importance of learning and educating others about depression and suicide. Her son Dan organized the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Community Walk for Columbus, OH. Though the weather was wet, the event was a huge success. Over $32,000 was raised as of Sunday morning, with more donations expected to trickle in throughout the fall. NTB, but our team, Team Patty, raised over $13,000, earning us a spot among the top teams nationwide. Second place, actually. NTB.

The guest speaker following Sunday's walk stressed the value of the good we do for other people and the gift of time--how important it is to treasure and enjoy the time spent with those we love and how much it means to give of one's time to help and support others. Depression is disease that many people have difficulty understanding, especially if it has not touched their own lives or families. If you would like to learn more about depression and suicide, take a few minutes to get started by reading these facts provided by the AFSP. If you would like to give of your time by participating in an Out of the Darkness walk in your community, look here for a schedule of walks this fall. I would like to send out special thanks to all of the wonderful people in my life who were so generous in supporting this important cause when I asked. I was overwhelmed by your donations and your good wishes.

I have included a few photos of Sunday's event. It was an ugly, rainy day in Columbus, but I am proud to say that Team Patty, clad in orange sherbet, was shining bright. NTB.


LAP said...

Well said.

Michelle said...

A beautiful tribute.

Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

your family is amazing. good work. msp

Anonymous said...

A special tribute, great weekend for a special lady!! Well done! krp

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories and encouraging others to learn more about mental health awareness.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute and what a wonderful family!


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