An old high school friend, Manuella,,,or "Ella," as she goes by now,stopped into Joyworks today. She had a bunch of HER old high School friends(a class below me) in tow. Manuella and I always seem to tear up..thinking of our dear,mutual Friend. Manuella and I were never close,,,,but we will always have a link: our dear friend, my dear, dear,friend Patrick.
Patrick and I became friends our Sophmore year of High School. Oh my Lord, he was SO funny! He had this energy and vibe that just made you love him and want to be around him! We'd get into
Patrick was the guy you hung out with when your weren't dating, didn't have a steady.....he was the best "guy bud" you could EVER have!
We double "dated" for our Junior Prom.....He went with my friend Tony and I went with a preacher's kid,,Rick. We had a great time. Laughter was always the focal point!
Dates aside, we'd go Snow skiing, or to a movie, or go grab a pizza. Oh my lord, he made me laugh till my sides ached! I remember one time when we "played" 'Lost a Contact' in a swanky Store,,,,,,we had all the staff and customers looking for a contact that I supposedly "lost" only I didn't.....Or,,other times, we'd pull up next to cars at intersections and make bizarre faces at the drivers/passengers and drive off. Juvenile? Yep! But we had a Ball!
I lost track of Patrick after his Marriage right out of High School. He married a gal a class "under" us (whom I saw again after many years),,,,they had a huge double wedding with his bride's sister and groom.......About a year later, they were divorced.
Patrick worked for some lucrative Sportswear companies in Seattle and eventually became the Head Administrator (and first Major Stock Holder)for "Cutter and Buck." A very high end line of Golf clothing-which is still growing and going strong.
But, for years, we'd lost track of each other until a mutual High School Friend, Bonnie, married for the first time, late,,,,,in her late 30's and Patrick and I were re-united after many years-it was like we'd never been apart! We rekindled our friendship fast,I was SO glad to have him back in my life!
After a couple of years of lots of phone calls and occaissional get together's /dinners with my sons and mutual friends, I had him to my home one evening. Just the two of us-my boys were elsewhere and no other friends in attendence. Ironically, I'd been watching a Tom Hanks movie as I was preparing dinner......the one where Tom Hanks discover's he has Aids......as the movie was ending, and I was waiting for Patrick, I was crying my eyes out...
Pat arrived, as usual, bring flowers and dessert or a bottle of wine and I explained WHY I was crying. Apparently it was the perfect opportunity for a Talk between old friends.. .
Patrick told me that night, he was gay. I was the "first" out of his Seattle Circle that he felt comfortable enough telling. He told me he'd been "fighting it" and battling it for years-since he was a young child, actully. He was afraid to tell those he loved. And, He spoke of anxiety and panic attacks,fear of alienation,,,,and he asked me, "Didn't you ever think I was gay?"
My response was,,,"You were MY Patrick. I just loved you for who you were." And frankly, his sexual orientation had never crossed my mind. I loved him. And, loved his parents, who'd also been extended family to me since I was 15 years old.
He shared his internal battle for years...making fun of another classmate who seemed to be "different"-although he always sensed he was more like this classmate than anyone else. Denying his sexuality to himself, to the point of getting married-right out of High School. Hiding from his friends, his family for years. And when, finally opening up about his sexuality being estranged from his parents. I think THAT was the hardest.......for he was SO close to them and it hurt him so that they could not, would not accept who he was.
That evening,when he told me, I was dumbfounded, but all I could say was that I loved him. It hurt me too, that he and his parents were no longer close. And knowing them, I thought that as a hetero parent my biggest concern for my son would be AIDS,,,,,and the potential for losing my child. For the potential Stigma,,,,,and for his long term happiness. All I could say is that I KNEW his parents loved him and eventually I thought they would come around.
Well,,,here, I've got to say that Patrick had ONE truly great love in his life. When it ended, it darn near broke him. He was a monogamous gay man.
He got tested regularly-even though he had ONE partner. His sister came "around" to support him first-and, after he was diagnosed..his parents eventually accepted his lifestyle and sexuality.From the night he told me,,,,I still, could only LOVE him....he was "my Patrick."
So funny,,,,and the only person I knew that had more clothes in his closet than I! He loved my boys,,,,All his friends-gay or straight! Oh, how happy I am that we had that time,,,,,those years together again!
Then, one day, I had Patrick to dinner with the dear mutual friend of ours -the one that had "reconnected us through her wedding and had known him since Grade School. Patrick told us both,that night at dinner he had ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease.
He was optimistic. He had one of the top 3 docs in the Country,,,,,and this doc's patients had lived for many years with the disease.
My Dear, dear Patrick, had the worst form of the disease. He was diagnosed in the Fall and was gone a mere year later. Prior to that I visited him often/ and he travelled. He visited Europe with the help of some of his newer guy friends-who navigated him around in a wheelchair. He took another classmate and neices and nephews on a cruise and to Disneyland. He lived that last year of his life to the utmost.
Today, I lived our memories and our times together again over and over again. I shared memories and tears with his wife of ONE year-who came to understand him for WHO and what he was,,,,who didn't understand at the time why it didn't work, but still loves him, in a different way now.
These former classmates reminded me that Patrick will ALWAYS be a part of my life, of who I am,,,,who I aspire to be! To laugh, oh my,,,did we laugh!
To appreciate,,,,I'll always appreciate who he was and what he meant to me!
Honestly? I teared up today,,,,because he is no longer with me,,,,,but I think of all the fun, the laughs, the antics and I KNOW that is WHY he was in my life. I KNOW that is what he would want me to share with YOU!!! Laugh today! Live it well! And Live your life the best way you can!!