A final goodbye

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“I’m Am Woman” by Helen Reddy — 1972

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong

I am invincible

I am woman

***
Patty Smith was one of my best friends for the past 47 years; a long time, but not long enough. Paula and I moved to Carbondale in 1971 and bought a house next door to Buddy and Bev Rogers. It was through the Rogers that Paula and I began a friendship with Dick and Patty. In many ways, the six of us – Buddy, Bev, Dick, Patty, Paula and myself – were like an extended family. We shared stories, meals, jokes, laughter, sadness, opinions, and the occasional game of pinochle. It was not unusual for the six of us to hang out two to three times a week. Based on 47 years and my rough calculations, we spent some 10,000 hours just hanging out.

Without hesitation, Patty Smith is one of the strongest women I have known. Each of us has obstacles that block our chosen path. How we deal with each challenge defines our character.

Patty was married to James Staff in1964 and lost him in 1966. During that love-filled marriage, Patty gave birth to Jimmy. In a flash, Patty had become a widow and a single mother. A few years later, she married Dick Smith and became the mother of two families rolled into one. In time, Patty and Dick lost Scott, their oldest son, to cancer. As time passed, Patty was dealt an additional challenge – Dick suffered a major stroke. In addition to the normal duties of wife and mother, she was now a caregiver, head of the household, and major provider. She stepped out of her husband’s shadow and took charge.

Any one of these challenges could break a weaker person. While family and friends offered their support, Patty turned to God, her spiritual source for guidance and strength. Her loving qualities grew and her toughness only strengthened, allowing her to face any adversary. Patty’s spirit now resides in the glory of the Lord. But her compassion, strength, and knowledge continue to live within each family member and friend who knew her well. She gave us a template, a master plan for how to face life’s challenges. But we have to act upon the lessons she has passed on. The answers, the magic is there. When faced with our next test, I suggest that each of us say, “What would Patty do?” “What would Patty do?”

***
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(strong)
I am invincible
(invincible)
I am woman

 

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