You can read Patty's obituary by clicking here. I know her as Dr. Patricia Payne, or "Dr. Payne", although my co-workers called her "Patty" or "Momma Payne". I went to her memorial picnic today, and stood in a room full of people who were in awe of how amazing she was, just like I was.
I met Dr. Payne when I started working at Alaska Veterinary Clinic. My husband and kiddos met her too; we were the last ones to leave. Paul would come pick me up, and the kids would ask to use the restroom, and they always said "Hi!" It was at the end of very long, stressful days, that the few of us remaining would talk about our plans for the evening, or the weekend... Not knowing all the details of her life, I was always in shock because of all the things she did. She made quilts, and did a lot of sewing. She played the fiddle and toured with a band. She went to the gym. She did photography. She painted. And then she always thought of something else she wanted to do in the future.
She also took care of my pets, specially my Pepper, who was my little buddy. She understood and handled Pepper when no one else was willing to.
Early this year she received the diagnosis that put everyone in shock. I was even more shock to find out it wasn't the first time. We were devastated, but optimistic. If anyone could face it - it was her!
The week before she left for treatment the first time I asked her about Pepper's neurotic behavior, because she was having more symptoms than usual. She had me bring Pepper for an exam and saw her come unglued... and she knew that it didn't look too good for Pepper. She very frankly talked to me about Pepper; she was having severe neurological issues... We can attempt medications but much like with human mood-altering medications, if they don't work the results could be at the very least painful if not lethal. I'd never be able to trust Pepper with the kids and Dr. Payne was concerned for my family's safety. She said that if I asked her to, she would euthanize Pepper for me, although we attempted some bloodwork to see if we could find any clues to her behavior. I told Dr. Payne I would take care of Pepper but could not ask her to do it. That week, and that weekend, was so hard for me.
I took a lot of heat for having Pepper euthanized. I had people say some really hurtful things to me. What I could not disclose at that time is that this was Dr. Payne's recommendation. She was facing a terrible diagnosis herself; it wasn't something she said casually or took lightly! How could I, without breaking her confidence, explain why her opinion was that important to me? Had it been anyone else I would've never done it. We knew Dr. Payne, and her heart for animals, and for the people that belonged to them. I knew she cared about my family and even though it would be difficult for me to accept, she saw the big picture of my home and told me the truth.
Between rounds of chemo she would stop by the clinic and we would always be happy to see her. We tried to help as much as we could. Then we waited... and were disappointed... and waited some more. Always hopeful that a miracle would come along.
The process was difficult but the effect is inspiring. Because Patty was the kind of person that was constantly working on her "bucket list", before she got ill. It taught us to somehow do the same. The result is people taking pottery classes, joining a band, going back to school, trying something new... There's no way to better honor a woman like her than by taking a lesson from the way she lived. She believed you could do anything you wanted to do. She didn't believe in excuses for waiting. She saw life and nature as art and she could capture it and portray it. She was thankful for every day and she did not waste it. I was pleasantly surprised to learn today that she was also a fan of mythical stories like "Lord of the Rings". It made me think, "I want to be Dr. Payne when I grow up!" I think I remember telling her that too, sometime last year.
So, my bucket list? Here it goes:
- I want to learn how to show dogs and participate in dog sports.
- I want to learn how to play the guitar once and for all! (and I need a guitar)
- I want to get back into acting... maybe go back to college for a financially useless degree like Theatre or Performing Arts.
- I want to be a foster parent. (and I need a whole lot of prayer and a double dose of patience)
- I want to blog more... and do photography. Not for income per say, but to capture in pictures what I'm blogging about. (and I need a camera!)
- I want people to know what I believe. They don't have to like it. They don't have to agree with me. But if I ever pass away I want people to know without a shadow of a doubt that I believed in Jesus Christ, and His love for them, and that I love them too.
- I want to be blissfully, even insanely, optimistic and confident.
- I want to live my life in such a way that, at the end of my days, people are as inspired by my life as we are by hers.