Growing up Catholic, everyone received a godmother. I had the distinct privilege of having one who actively played that role. In nearly every significant moment of my life, from the hilariously silly to the profoundly serious, she was in the passenger seat next to my mother, her best friend! The lines between friends, family, and godmother all blurred in love, as she became and remained my Aunt Patty Cakes.
Most memories I have with her include deep laughter between her and my mother who were two peas in a pod. They met when they were still teenagers working at the Shop-Rite and became inseparable best friends after that. Her daughter, Tara, was like a sister to my sisters and I. Our crazy family provided endless entertainment for Tara who was an only child. After she spent time with us, I am pretty certain she was glad to be an only child. We vacationed together as families, whether freezing in Vermont or fishing in Venice, Florida. It takes great courage and personality to be grafted into our crew, but she became Auntie to even my extended family, joining our raucous crew every summer at a family camp in Upstate New York where we made some of the best memories of our lives.
She always cried. When she laughed, it ended with tears. She cried every time she heard the hymn, “On Eagle’s Wings” which was her favorite. She ugly cried when I terribly sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” as a solo at my kindergarten graduation. She cried at my First Communion and First Confession.She cried at my wedding. She cried when I called her. She cried when I sent her gifts and cards.
She never cooked. I mean never. She did not want it to mess up her kitchen. She was the only person I know who has ever surpassed my mother in OCD about neatness, which is saying a lot.
She had a fascination with angels, but she often cussed like a sailor. That was Aunt Patty. She signed all of her cards “Love, Me.” And love her I did.
She loved all kinds of people. She helped raise her husband’s siblings. She taught CCD classes (which is Catholic-speak for Sunday School) faithfully for decades. She and I shared a love for the Lord which knit us together deeply.
After battling cancers of all kinds for the past decade, she passed through death and into life this morning. She is with Jesus, and she is whole. But everyone she left behind is broken to pieces.
I am confident that she was ready to be home and whole. Towards the end of her life, she really did embody the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1.
“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always, Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:18-21).”
Last time we talked on the phone, she kept saying, “I am ready, but I want to stay for them.” Them being everyone in her life, most notably her doting husband, Dean, her daughter, Tara, and her three precious grandchildren. It was fitting that her lingering here longer would have been for those she loved most. That was her style.
She will forever be my godmother. But now she is in the presence of our God. And that is a good place for a beloved godmother to reside.