Patti always signs off with 'Age is just a number.'
And she's right. The number that matters to me when I think of her is 46 years of friendship. I met Patti in junior high, and unlike other fleeting relationships, ours has endured through high school and beyond. Blonde and petite, she has always been a force - full of energy, fun, and an unwavering sweet spirit.
She was my ride pretty much everywhere during our teen years, and though I don't remember ever offering her gas money (so sorry about that Patti) or remember her asking for it, I could never forget her cars.
There was the little white Nova with rubber water-bumpers on the front and back that were designed to absorb impact - look out Larch Mountain, here she comes!
Her next car was a very yellow convertible that had been used to ferry Portland royalty in our Rose Festival Parade. Petite as she was, she'd have to push the seat up as far as it could go just to reach the pedals, and even then it would've been a stretch without the sky-high wedgies she wore. She'd put the top down, and we'd Rose-Festival wave at our imagined admirers on Halsey Street which ran straight through our stomping grounds and right by the high school.
Next, came the shiny red convertible in cherry condition when she bought it, but not so much when she was finished with it. In one memorable car after another, she drove us through the eight-track tape years, taking us everywhere we wanted to go and plenty of places we shouldn't have gone. - Rock and roll music to the world! - and never mind 'ten years after' - forty years after, I remember every day of it.
Our senior year, we worked together at a dry cleaners. Most nights we were left to blow the boiler down, count the till, and lock up shop, but before we did any of that, one of us would walk across the parking lot and fetch beans and broken shells from Taco Bell, leaving me with an affection for that combo to this day.
She was my first roommate after graduation and then again a few years later. After that, our lives diverged, her's going one way, mine going another. Both of us went on to make our own questionable decisions and to suffer the consequences, each in our own way, but during those years that we were weaving in and out of each other's lives, it was always her who reached out to me, making sure I knew our connection was still there, that she was thinking of me.
With that same spirit, she has nurtured her family, having been blessed with the man of her dreams, children, and grandchildren.
Over the years, she has sent me pictures of her yard in its full blooming glory. She has a green thumb, tending her flowers like she tends her friendships - faithfully, purposefully, lovingly.
I love you, Patti. Thank you for the years of care you have given me.