Saturday, August 2, 2008

And now from the sister...

Today you get to hear from me, the sister, masquerading as Pat. Not that it is much of a masquerade. I am a lawyer, and words are the stuff of contracts and other legal documents. I love the orderly flow of words, the precise communication of complicated concept and thought. But today I enter Pat’s world, to tell you more of her story from a space of love.

Pat is currently under hospital care for a bowel obstruction. Having very little understanding of bowel obstructions, I asked her doctor for an explanation. Our organs are surrounded by the peritoneum, a smooth, slippery surface. With ovarian cancer, tumors seed on the peritoneum, like sand thrown against its surface. The bowels have motility, and slide over the peritoneum. With the presence of tumors, the bowel gets “stuck” on some of these tumors. These tumors can press upon the wall of the bowel, causing it to collapse, or can cause the bowel to twist or loop on itself, narrowing or even closing the opening in the bowel. Our bowels sustain us by processing our food and delivering to the body what it needs; when the bowels are obstructed, the body is without sustenance.

Obstructions can, in the words of the doctor, wax and wane. They can resolve with rest and medication; they can remain stubbornly and obstinately in place. And while such obstructions are present, nutrition and hydration presents its difficulties. Pat is currently receiving TPN, which is a totally balanced nutritional supplement delivered intravenously, and beginning to regain her strength.

This has been an intense week of reflection for the two of us. Many decisions have been made, both medical and metaphysical. And now is the time for defining absolute priorities.
For Pat, an absolute priority is her writing. She has much left to say, and it is writing that sustains her as much as the TPN that feeds into her veins.

For all who are close to Pat, we would ask that you focus on all that is required to allow her write with passion, beauty, and from a place of strength. For that reason, I have offered to take over her blog, so as to free her for the writing that is now of greatest importance to her. For that reason, we would ask that if you write to Pat by email, you are not disappointed if you do not receive an answer. She holds all of you in her heart.

We would also invite you to participate together in this experience by posting comments, rather than sending email. As we all care for Pat, the journey is worth taking together.


Anonymous said...

It gives me great joy to know that Pat is doing her is where her soul resides and is such a great love for her. Pam, thanks for sharing this. As a friend who tries to write but has always envied Pat's gift, I can vicariously share the time with her.

With love,

Brenda said...

Thanks Pam for doing this writing. It makes it so that we feel connected even when we are physically not near Pat. I am listening to birdsong, watching the sunshine come up over the mountains, and remembering the fun times with Patricia in this place - and yes of course a writing retreat was one of them! The family always remembers Jean playing Cranium as she shocked and amazed with her knowledge - you have great genes! Love Brenda from the Windy mere

Anonymous said...


I am grateful for your blog. As you wrote several posts back, you put it all on the table.

I'm thinking of you in your room full of windows and words as I re-read Munro's Lives of Girls and Women for the umpteenth time. You introduced me to that book at Henry Wise Wood. Reading it now, I have the same feeling I did when I read it the first time: this is my life on the page. Thank you for that gift, and all the others.

Shaun Hunter

LNG said...

I, too, remember times with Pat (and Brenda) at Bren's place in Windy mere....we were all writing then.

Pam, your voice sounds so lovely and open and present and fluid I almost forgot you are a lawyer! (grin). Seriously, it's wonderful that you're taking on the blog and that Pat is focusing on writing. It was a pleasure to be the editor for her poetry collection; I'm sure her stories will shine.

I also recall TPN and tubes with my own mother's last days in December...then, they took her off the TPN as they didn't consider that palliation, but had to leave those damned tubes in. Necessary, to suction away all the fluid, but stil...

Pat, I'm here at St. Pete's and we're writing memoir pieces, the chickadees are peppering the air, the sun is glorious and the fields are full of berries and fresh vegetables. The coffee, though? not so great. So instead I send you bouquets of fine words, fresh lettuce with a hint of dill, and a handsome slice of Saskatoon berry pie. Oh, and a lone train whistle, many stars, and the comforts of a Cowichan sweater and a bonfire in the field.

You're in my thoughts every single day.


Susan said...

Hello Sisters,

What a delight to find you all here on the blog-site. (Thank you Brenda) In our travels this past month,I have had to learn to give up the gift of instant connectivity and ponder the lesson in just wondering.

Frank and I are here with family (yeah for lawyers and nurses!) at beautiful Clear Lake in the Muskokas. Last night while toasting marshellows in the cheers of dripping goo and wondering at the nightsky, a magnificent falling star went streaking by that apparently only I saw. It was a celestial instant message.

We send our messages of love, both earthly and celestial, to you all.... sisters, friends, and especially to Pat. XXX OOO

Barb said...

Not having a sister I was struck by the similarity of voice. In your words Pam I also heard Pat's voice. I thank you for offering to continue with Pat's blog.

Love Barb

Genevieve said...

Pat, you are the best (metaphysical) pole vaulter I know.

Holding you in my heart.

Genevieve :)

Anonymous said...

I'm very happy to hear that everyone is finding a sense of peace. I too am happy that Pat continues to write as her words have always been such a gift. I read her recent article in the Wellspring Newsletter and was, as always, impressed by her depth and grace. Please let her know that I think of her often.
Lori Pamplin

GirlProf said...

Keep the muse happy and the fingers typing. Caring for a sick Kai and Erik kept me away from you today, Pat. While we keep our germs to ourselves, know that you are in all of our hearts and thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Pam: My first recollection of Pat is a beautiful youngster of the post-war period in the 50's in Regina. Proudly, I can say that she was my dear friend. Then, children then had only a few toys to play with. Nonetheless that era with its given simplicity of life, we throughly enjoyed together. I remember much like the way everyone else does of Pat, but then Pat was not yet in school. My brother Ron and I then attended Pat's make-believe classroom in her parent's home basement. She was sweet, intelligent and fun to be with. Only learning of her death recently, the past few days I've learned more about her. To life's end is the quick-witted wise educator and writer I somehow always knew, was. Thank you for the the wonderful memories. Love to your entire family, Allan McDowell