SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 8: The Betty Boop of Wilmington Ohio

Tonight I’m traveling from a location scout in San Diego. Feeling rather fried and having my dear old Mum’s apartment on the route home, I drop by her place to say “hi.” As all mothers do, she pulls me in for dinner, something no self-respecting British man can decline.

You have to know my mum, an amazing Brit, 86 years young with an incredible history going all the way back to the WWII Blitz over London.

At dinner, I show Mum the 365 project. Her eyes light up and to the phone she goes in calling her neighbor. Five minutes later I’m sitting in Pat’s living room, meeting her and her four legged companion, Sassy.

We chat for over an hour. Sassy is all over the place. A remarkable conversation, all about faith and laughter. Her happiness is contagious and even though Sassy is drawing blood as she scratches on Pat’s delicate skin, Pat remains unaffected and smiling.

She shows me photos of her eleven grandchildren and six great-grand children. As I get to know her family the talk seamlessly shifts to darker history.

She tells me of her son’s murder and the early death of her high school sweetheart husband. She unveils a tragic work injury that removed her from the workforce and of her being the only one still living of all of her siblings. Still, she is unshaken in her optimism and positive outlook on the world.

There is too much to write about Pat and it’s getting late. Tomorrow is a big day and I need to prep myself for a night of curved-couch sleep. I cannot refuse Mum’s invitation to sleep at her pad, just going to leave for my L.A. commitments at 5am. Better to feel the sting of exhaustion than the disappointment of a Jewish mother.

So before I nod off to pretzeled sleep-land, I’ll list some of what I learn about Pat.

• She rolls with the punches
• Feels fortunate that she can walk and think
• Hold her hospital’s record for the most stints in a living human heart – ten to be exact
• Still trying to figure out how she can have 3 hips replacements with only 2 hips
• Has patterned her life after Betty Boop

Pat, loving you young lady.