Saturday, I attended a memorial service for Pat Whitfield, who was born in 1913 and lived for more than 100 years. What was remarkable about Pat was not that she lived so long, but how deeply she touched the lives of everyone she met along the way. You see, Pat had an extraordinary gift for making everyone she met feel special. She instantly welcomed us all into her circle of friends. She taught us how to laugh and how to smile. Her love was unconditional and she shared it generously. Those fortunate enough to know Pat will always cherish the feeling of being bathed in the warm glow of her smile and surrounded by the music of her laughter.
Now don’t get me wrong. Pat was no Mother Theresa. She could be bawdy and brash. She was often profane. She liked to have a Scotch on occasion. Sometimes two. She took delight in the foibles and follies that make up the human comedy we call life. The memorial service was one of the most joyous I have ever attended. As family and friends retold stories of her life, laughter echoed inside the chapel and it seemed as though Pat was there as well, smiling and laughing along with us.
After the service, the family planned to scatter her ashes upon the waters of Narragansett Bay. In the late afternoon, a line of thunderstorms rippled through the area. As I watched the lightning flash and heard the thunder booming in the distance, I wondered if Pat hadn’t orchestrated this little bit of natural drama to test her new found powers in the celestial world. When the sun burst through afterwards, I asked myself if this wasn’t Pat’s way of reminding us she would always be around, smiling down upon us. It would be just like here to do something like that!
Adieu, Pat Whitfield. I will carry your memory in my heart forever.