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I can’t believe what just happened. No matter that I was new at my job with the Visiting Nurse Association, that I was swamped handling our own referrals and had no time for supervising. She poo-pooed my objections, said that I had been recommended by the social worker at Cardinal Glennon’s for her practicum placement and no other would do. Besides, she was late for her class at Washington University and had to leave. Laughing, she grabbed her stuff and said, “See you Monday. This’ll work out—You’ll see!”

And it did, but not as you would think. She had no need for supervision: I needed it from her. Thus began our dinner meetings in the Delmar Loop, August 1979.

A single mom, she was raising five children, working nights at Glennon’s ER and finishing her master’s degree in Social work, besides having one in nursing. She inspired me to minimize my arthritic pain and engage in life around me. It worked, even to discarding my social work practice and becoming a certified chaplain, a better fit with my emerging gifts.

Our bonding deepened with annual retreats at Gloucester, where we continued our dinner meetings over fresh seafood and more laughter. There, she found her God in tending seagulls, their wings broken by the casts of anglers on the breakfront by Gloucester harbor—My wings have long since been whole.

Long seasoned with life’s fullness, she continues touching many.

Her name is Pat.

 

 

For forty years, my friend Pat and I have been enjoying succulent fare at St. Louis restaurants, as well as sharing fresh insights into relationships, trends, the geopolitical scene, and the Sacred. Life has worked its rigors upon us, left us wiser, more compassionate. The tone of our voices manifests this transformation.

And so this afternoon we stopped at Pan d’Olive Restaurant—a Bite of Mediterranean: my first time using portable oxygen. Tables of four buzzed with animation: two birthday celebrations of seniors, hearty laughter, and juicy aromas evoking appetites—a slice of vibrant living that warmed me as I took a seat next to the shaded window.

In no time, an aproned waiter with black hair brought us plates of grilled salmon served upon cabbage stew in a garlic lemon sauce with capers, reminiscent of my 1998 tour of the Greek islands.

Indeed, a bittersweet tone underscored our sharing that touched on families, wellness, aging issues, the D.C. and global scenes, and significant books. Absent was our usual repartee. Solicitude for my circumstances tensed her forehead. She had said to her family, “Just you watch—Liz’ll be around next Thanksgiving.” Yet the little blue pill, still maintaining my functioning, did relieve some of her concern.

I welcomed her hand steadying my arm as we walked to her car, the afternoon sun casting long shadows ahead of us: within the shadow, deeper acceptance of the unacceptable.

 

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