Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 4, 2009

My Friend Pat

I have so many of you to thank for the good thoughts and prayers you sent to my friend, Pat Cook, who taught special ed, reading, and English as a second language for over thirty years.

At the request of her husband, I wrote an obituary on Saturday. Not my genre. Way too much gets left out, at least in the traditional form which we were asked to follow. There were names of family members she almost never saw, but not the many friends. We were asked about organizations she belonged to, but not the everyday acts of goodness. I only knew what she did not want in her obituary: she didn’t like the phrase, “she lost her battle to cancer.” Pat fought to live well through four years of stage four cancer and chemotherapy, and it’s impossible to think she lost anything. It’s just the war and sports metaphors that don’t work. I’m too tired to come up with anything better, but I know if you’re going with the team thing, and had to choose a side, you’d want to be on Pat’s.

Then I wrote a talk I’ll say at St. Maron’s church tomorrow. Also short, but more my style. Here’s one bit:
I wish I could name every student who was precious to Pat, every teacher, caretaker, neighbor, sister, friend, but I promised to keep this short. It’s a shame, because Pat loved names. There was hardly a nurse or aide who stopped in her room whose name she didn’t learn, and that of their husbands and grandchildren, too. And she got the spelling right. Most of us go to the salad bar and get spinach, olives, maybe tomatoes; she’d come back with a story, sometimes a phone number.

Our dear wise Jo jbknowles shows one beautiful side of Pat. That woman loved a party, and she’d turn almost any occasion into one. And I’ll let the champagne-free version come from a fourth grade student, from a card he sent last week, one of many another teacher compiled by taping index cards onto big sheets of yellow paper.
Mrs. Cook
1. You are the best person ever.
2. You make us feel kind, Happy, nice.
3. People love you like family.
4. Happy thouts travel threw my mind when you smile.

Here’s that smile in January, when we celebrated her 57th birthday with a sleigh ride.



  1. A beautiful woman inside and out.

  2. Thank you for letting me get to know Pat in this way.

  3. Thank you for introducing us to Pat. What a beautiful tribute to this lovely woman.

  4. I’m so glad you had your years of friendship with this wonderful person. I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like a great loss indeed.

  5. I’m sorry for your loss, my friend. Actually, “loss” doesn’t seem the right word. It sounds like the world gained so much from her presence. {{}}

  6. Jeannine, I knew this was coming, but–of course–I still wish it hadn’t. You and Pat were so lucky to have had each other in your lives; I hope knowing that is some help to you right now. Sending lots of hugs.

  7. I was teary as I read and then when I got to this: “Happy thouts travel threw my mind when you smile,” I let it go and cried. I’m so sorry you had to say goodbye, Jeannine.

  8. So sorry to hear this, Jeannine. She sounds like a remarkable woman people will remember forever.

  9. So sorry to hear this news. Thank you for introducing us to Pat, and for celebrating her life through your wise, loving words.

  10. Hugs to you, Jeannine, and to Pat’s family as well.

  11. How beautiful that she touched so many lives. I’m so sorry you lost your dear friend, Jeannine. Hugs and love to you.

  12. What a beautiful smile — and what a loving tribute. I’ll be keeping you in my heart, Jeannine.

  13. I’m sorry to hear about her passing … yet happy for what she brought to everyone her life touched, including those of us who only got these glimpses through your blog!

  14. You said it so well, and with such grace. My sister-in-law just lost a long-time dear, deaer friend to cancer after a similar lengthy battle, so I feel close to your simultaneous grief and celebration of a life well-lived.

  15. What a beautiful picture of Pat. It captures her remarkable spirit which, of course, lives on.
    Ellen W.

  16. I’m sorry you have to deal with this. I never really know what to say at times like this.
    She seems like a really wonderful person. I find your anecdotes about her to be insightful and touching. There is no doubt from what I have read about her that she has impacted so many people’s lives in a positive way through day to day life.

  17. So sorry, Jeannine
    Sending you all my love and good thoughts your way…I’m so sorry – she sounds like she was magical.

  18. Jeannine, I am sorry for the hurt you feel. You have been a good friend and obviously Pat was too. I hope you feel that God cherishes your tears.

  19. Oh my, what a heartfelt, thoughtful memory of a such a good friend. I am sorry for the giant hole her leaving will leave in your heart. Thanks for letting us share her just a little bit.

  20. Thank you, Susan.

  21. None of us know what to say in times like these, really, but your words feel exactly right, darling, and I appreciate them. I know you’ve gone through your own very hard times and it’s good to have your company. I’m glad you and A. will spend some time with Em, too, who is taking this hard. It’s a big loss for us.

  22. Jeannine,
    so sorry to hear of Pat’s death…and thank-you for sharing..your words..and the wonderful simplicity of the child’s tribute…that says so much in so many ways…particularly about Pat
    Margaret Arsenault

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