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04 May 2009

The Story of the Two Pats

One spring, about 11 years ago, just shortly after Warren had moved to Portland so that we could finally be together, his mother came for a visit. We gave her the tour of our apartment near campus and walked all over downtown reviving memories of her childhood that included some time in Portland.

The next day we left her to her vices and she decided to walk down to the farmer's market near our apartment. When she returned, she had with her a small plant with the most delicate purple bloom. It was a dwarf lilac bush. She handed it to me and told me it was for our community garden plot on campus. I was overjoyed! You have no idea, but I am a lilac freakazoid. I'm not one of those people that has to have lilac candles, lilac soap, lilac fabric softener. No, not in the slightest. I am however, one of these people, who may just happen to clip a twig of one of your blooming lilac bushes in the middle of the night. I'm also one of these people that will stop the car and get out just to smell a ripening tree of lilac blossoms. I"m insane about it. Every spring, just before the lilacs bloom, I get this insatiable need to smell them.

So anyway, Warren and I had just gotten our garden plot going and needed something special for it. We planted the lilac bush in our plot and promptly named it Pat, in honor of Warren's mother. Every time she came to visit, we strolled down to the garden to look at Pat.

Two years later, we moved. We dug up our plot, including Pat, and transplanted her into a gorgeous new pot and brought her to our new digs. There she lived on our back porch. She bloomed just a bit later than all the other lilacs, which was very special to me given it just draws out the lilac season. Just as the fragrance of the lilac blooms were waning around us, Pat would begin to bloom. We always made sure she was never alone. She had many potted plants surrounding her to keep her company and we took great care to make sure that she flourished. We always sent pictures to Warren's mom every spring as she displayed her purple grandeur.

Then three years later, Pat moved with us again, three more times. I had always promised her that one day, we would own the land where we resided and that she would have her very own plot of earth to put down her roots for good. Then we bought our first house. Warren and I both immediately thought of Pat. She would have her wish. When we got our keys, the first thing we did was to bring Pat over to see where she would forever reside. She liked the SW corner of the front yard the best. Probably because that is where most people would see her annual lavish display of purple blooms. Well Pat proved to be right. Her roots had been contained for way too long. We had to crack the pot open just to release her. We dug a big hole and placed her in it with lots of love.

She's been in that same spot now for almost four years now. She loves it. She's grown another foot and gets more blooms each spring. She's been through a lot, being moved around, root bound, and finally transplanted. I was looking up information about these small lilacs and the first thing that was mentioned is they are the much hardier and more durable than most lilacs. You've got to be kidding me. I wonder if Warren's mom knew that she was picking out a plant for us with the same qualities she herself has. Pat, the person, moved around a lot as a child. She had a bit of a tough upbringing, although she does have some fond memories. Then she went through years of raising two boys (need I say more). Finally, as she was retiring and getting ready for her golden years, she was confronted with the biggest fight of her life - breast cancer. Of course, she made it through, Pat can make it through anything. She's as tough as the bat that hits the ball out of the park but she has a bigger heart than you'll ever see. Now she's enjoying her retirement to the fullest.

So I think it's a bit interesting that she bought us this plant, never knowing what kind of journey it would take with us or how much it resembles her life and her stubborn will to survive. So this year, even as the rains refuse to let way to sun, Pat, the plant, is preparing to bloom once again. And, even as the journey of life has had it's twists and turns, Pat, the person, is still flourishing and infecting people with her tenacity for life.

And that my friend, is the Story of the Two Pats.


  1. I loved the story of Two Pats! I always comment on the lilac bush easp spring when I'm over at your house. It has such brilliant purple and incredibly frangrant blooms. I always liked my lilac bush until I saw yours - my blooms are light purple and they immediately turn brown and they have NO smell. I am jealous of your "Pat the Plant" :)