Well, Friends, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. A week ago Wednesday, my Grandpa Patten passed away and is now in Paradise – in my head, specifically the Garden of Eden. He was 87 years old. Because he was so healthy, his death came as a huge shock to everyone. I know that not all of you knew him, so I thought I’d share a few things about my Grandpa.
- His middle name was Melcher. Melcher! Sidney Melcher Patten.
- He was married to my Grandma, Doris, who passed away in 2008. They had 10 children, one of which is in Heaven with them today.
- Grandpa married his second wife, Fran, on April 10, 2010. She is amazing.
- He was a reserved gentleman. But he always greeted us grandkids (and there are lots of us) with a kiss.
- He rarely laughed hard, but when he did, you just had to join in.
- He loved God’s creation. Birds. Trees. His garden. He had a huge garden – mostly fruits & vegetables, at the family home on Cedar Street. When he moved away from that house he was instrumental in forming a community garden in the elderly community at Resthaven.
- He liked to ride his bike. At age 87 even!
- He played the accordion. And the piano.
- He loved to read & study the Bible.
- He was generous with his time & his resources.
- He had a bee hive for years in his backyard. Home-spun honey was always available in Grandpa & Grandma’s kitchen. Also homemade raspberry & strawberry jam.
- He was a popcorn lover. It is a known truth: “Pattens love popcorn”.
- He could almost always be found in a collared shirt & cardigan.
- He never lost his love of learning. Although he worked at a factory while raising his nine kids, and put aside his dreams of med school, he pursued knowledge on his own. There were always stacks of National Geographic magazines in his study.
- Although he was not outwardly affectionate, he showed me he loved me by paying attention to me. If I was talking, he would listen. He absorbed what I would say, and would validate it with a response. He enjoyed his time with me, and it was evident. He would sing the “swing song” to me as he pushed me on the swings. He never failed to send a birthday card/anniversary card. He prayed for me. And I know that this is true for the rest of us too.
There’s a lot more I could say.. But I think you get an idea of who he was.
Two weeks ago, Grandma Ryan & I were at Grandpa & Fran’s apartment for a visit with Fran. Grandpa came in just before we left, bringing with him the first strawberry of the season from his garden. We all passed it around & admired the strawberry. Grandma & I got ready to go. Grandpa hugged me goodbye & kissed me on the cheek, just like always. And then two days later he was in the hospital, where he would spend his final days here on earth.
Someone will take care of his strawberries, I know. And now Fran has a whole family of Pattens, along with her family, to take care of her. But we just weren’t ready to let Grandpa go, and we’re still working on it.
I want to be like Fran when I grow up. She sat by Grandpa’s bedside for five days straight, only going home occasionally to sleep but mostly spending the nights at the hospital. One night at 10:30, she led several of us in an exercise class in the family room. We’re talking leg kicks, arm lifts, repetitions, the works. We could not stop beaming. We needed her spunk that night. She’s 91 years old today, by the way. Happy Birthday, Fran! We love you so much.
Grandpa’s nine kids were all with him in his last days here – singing hymns, playing the guitar, telling stories, holding his hands, saying goodbye. There were tears, hugs, laughs, just about everything you could ask for.
I am thankful for the example his life was to the rest of us – quietly living life, loving the Lord, loving others. He was humble, consistent, and great – in a less-is-more way. And today he is in Heaven. The Garden of Eden has gained another caretaker.
Thanks to Amanda & Aunt Barb for these photos!