It is two days after Patrick’s passing and here’s an update such as it is. I’m going to throw in some random notes as I stumble across them.
First off, I am incredibly grateful to Carol, Suzy and Adriana who have been so helpful and doing so much these last couple of days. It’s hard to handle the necessaries even when it’s a local event, but it’s triply difficult when there’s an ocean and continent between home and where one needs to be. My family and I would be struggling even more without their assistance. Thank you, ladies, thank you so much. I’m also thankful for Ivonne for all the comfort and love she gave our father in his last months. She grieves desperately, but she is not alone. We are all in this together so I hope that together we will help one another heal more quickly.
I leave California for Spain on Wednesday afternoon and will be there until the 19th of May. My sisters and I have discussed some of the arrangements and here’s what we have decided so far.
Patrick did not want any services but begrudgingly agreed that people need to say goodbye in a formal, social setting. We are going to have a small service in Deia, possibly Thursday the 4th of May. We would like to have a broader celebration, perhaps a musical event at Son Marriog, in September which would give people time to coordinate calendars and get cheaper flights and so on.
Additionally we plan to have a celebration in the States, most likely somewhere in Florida because Jennifer prefers not to travel. At some point my mom and sister Gretchen and I will get together at Gretchen’s remote little house (above Yosemite), but if anyone else wants to make that trek, let us know.
It’s still early and dates are undetermined, but feel free to let us know if you wish to attend any (or all!) of these events.
Patrick’s body will be cremated, probably next Monday or Tuesday, and we are hoping to get permission to inter the ashes next to Stephanie’s body, in the Deia cemetery. We decided against scattering his ashes because one sister changed her mind and would like a specific place to visit (many of you likely feel the same) and we all think that being beside Stephanie is the best place for him, period.
In one of my last conversations with Patrick, he gave me this recipe for meatloaf, which he bragged was very well received:
Put fried tomatoes in a bowl, throw in a handful of bread crumbs and some spices and mix it all together. Sip some red wine while letting the mixture sit for 15 minutes. Blend together ground beef and ground pork in equal proportions, sip some more wine and let the mixture sit “for a while.” Put it all into a greased bowl and cook it in the oven or microwave. If the oven, let it cook for the amount of time it takes to drink a glass of wine, then pull it out and serve it up with sweet potatoes or an ear of corn.
Last Saturday, at the end of the day at the race track, several friends and I went to dinner. While there, I received a text from Donna, who said that she and her beau were drinking red wine in Patrick’s honor. It inspired me to buy a bottle for the table (and choked me up a little). We all raised our copas de tinta for Patrick, for family and for friends.
I got home from the track around midnight, skipping Sunday’s sessions. (Thanks to my racing friends for their understanding and working things out for my replacement.) I was on the phone until about 3:00 AM (there’s a nine-hour time difference), then was awakened by a text message at 7:00 AM, after which I spent most of Sunday on the phone with calls and text messages, sharing stories and grief, and making arrangements.
A sister just sent me this link to her new poem: My Father’s Voice. It’s beautiful, simply beautiful. [Later: she has removed access to it.]
As I flip through my note book where I scribbled while talking with Patrick, I found this: He said the high point of his life was building the house in Deia with Stephanie, and playing Mozart piano quartets in Son Marriog with world-class musicians.
Another note: He said “The main thing I want (if I do this thing) is for people to be accepting. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just need to alleviate the pain.” He made it clear too that he wanted to protect Ivonne, and didn’t want her to be around when he decided to end things.
Later, after explaining how hard it was to get to the acupuncture facility, and how it didn’t seem to help, he said he’d come over to California and show me how to cook five basic dishes… something quick and easy, something formal, and something that will impress the ladies!
Here’s how he felt near the end: “Every move requires you to ignore that you are in agony.”
On Thursday or Friday he said there was the beginning of a blood clot coming up his right leg, which could get loose. I can’t recall if he went to a doctor to figure that out. He said he could go back to the hospital but he wasn’t interested. At another recent point he said he felt the beginnings of a heart attack, which he recognized from the previous one but he didn’t want to go to the hospital then either.
A night or two before Patrick died we talked at length. He apologized for sounding a little groggy but said he was hoping the sleeping pills were going to help him. He was taking two at bedtime, waking up at 2:00 in pain and taking another, and again another around 5:30 AM. Anyway, he looked out the window and was surprised to see a bunch of white seagulls taking flight. He thought it strange that they were flying at night, but they were lovely.
There are two schools of thought regarding the viewing of a body. School 1 says that it’s important to view the body because it provides closure by putting an end to the question “is he really gone?” School 2 says that you don’t need to see the body to know he’s gone. This school argues that it’s better to have your last memory be of him in life, not in death. I subscribe to the second school.
This morning I received a call from the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. They officially gave me notice that Patrick had died, though no details were provided. We talked a little about procedural items, specifically that I should request a “Consular Report of Death Abroad” once the Spanish death certificate arrives.
This morning I also received an unexpected e-mail message addressed to Patrick (I was cc’d) from Prof Janise White relating to a recent recording of Coleridge-Taylor’s Symphony in A minor that Patrick had rediscovered and published. She said that the performance received a standing ovation.
I replied to let her know about Patrick’s death, which in turn prompted this response:
“How tragic to hear of your father’s passing! May he rest in peace knowing he helped restore the lost music of the African American classical music legacy. I hope you can attend our next performance of the symphony. Please let me know if you need anything. Again thank you for sharing your father with the world of music and musicians. He will be missed but his legacy and work will live on into the centuries!”
We are all touched by the people in lives in different ways. In Patrick’s case, we are all touched even by people we don’t know.
I’m the son of Patrick of Meadows.