Patrick Francis Healy, my “middle child”, my #2 son, is getting married next weekend.
Named after St. Francis of Assisi and my father Edmund Francis Shaheen. A classic Irish name with a bow to his grampfather, William Healy. A lover of nature, an artist, a true renaissance man outstanding in his field.
After almost two days of laboring, Patrick was born with his brown eyes wide open to check out the world. I think he was impressed. We had a quick snuggle before the nurses whisked him away to the nursery to observe him. “He’s too quiet”, they said.
In my hospital bed looking out the window at the stars, I couldn’t roll over and get comfortable. He was still with me. Safely tucked just under my heart.
My phantom limb.
Once home, Patrick was forced to contend with his two year old brother, Robert, who by the way was NOT quiet or tranquil. Nonetheless, he almost immediately slept through the night and even when he wasn’t asleep, he would just lie in his crib, taking in his new digs. His dad and I would look at each other and ask “Where did he come from?”
Robert loved him and would climb into his crib in the morning to talk to him and show him the many stuffed animals adorning. Their bond has strengthen through the years. I’ve often drawn a parallel to their lives with the story of the Prodigal Son. (Now that would be an entirely different blog!)
Nothing really ever rattled Patrick. He was happy playing with his GIJoes and reading his books on his own. That is, until Peter was born and his status was disrupted. But he quickly adjusted and life became even more fun and interesting with a little brother.
“He’s quiet”. Those words spoken in the delivery room couldn’t have been more prophetic. Quiet until he has something to say. Quiet because there are creative things churning away in his very intuitive mind.
Walking to the park with my three sons after my mother died, Patrick so sweetly chimed “Wouldn’t it be fun if Sittie was with us?” He was 3 1/2 years old.
On the anniversary of my mother’s death, I put some of her perfume on just to have her close. In the kitchen during breakfast Patrick said “You smell like Sittie!” She had passed 7 years prior, and Patrick still remembered her comforting scent.
When we lived in Portland, we had a roof leak over some built in book shelves. It rained (go figure..) and my books were ruined. He helped me pull them off the self and dry them one by one. “Oh Mom.. your books!” At 14 years old he knew what was important to me and I was deeply touched by his empathy and caring.
I went to Patrick’s room to just chat one evening when he was in high school. He was busy with a writing assignment. I asked “What are you writing?” He responded “An apology letter to the Dean of Students. It has to be two pages.” I said “What in the heck did you do?” Later I learned that it was something rather significant that involved some shenanigans with several of his friends. But Patrick took it in stride and did what he needed to do to rectify the situation. Quietly. Deliberately. He took responsibility. And then he put it behind him.
After leaving for college at CAL Berkeley, Patrick continued to come home every weekend. I was always happy to see him but I finally asked him why he wasn’t staying at school and getting involved and making new friends. He calmly responded “I don’t like the food in the dorm.” And of course he had learned from me from a very early age that food is love. So I figured he came home for some food. And some love.
“He’s quiet”. To be honest it was a rare moment to see Patrick rattled. But see it I did when he came home from three years of graduate school in Denver. He wanted to stay there. He wanted a job there. And he didn’t get one. Probably one of the first times he didn’t attain what he set out to get for himself. We talked for hours. I could feel his disappointment and distress. I felt helpless. I had never seen him so dejected.
But he did get a job in Santa Clara at Verde Design where he had interned after getting his BA in Landscape Architecture. He wasn’t expecting to go back there. He wanted something different.
Nonetheless, he found a place to live. He made a spreadsheet of his expenses. He pulled himself together and started that job at Verde. A couple weeks in he heard the click click of a co-worker’s heels as she approached her desk after being on vacation in Spain. Click Click. I think he knew. She appeared out of nowhere.
“He’s quiet”. He holds his cards close to his heart. After a two year warm and wonderful friendship, he finally risked everything to tell her, Nazaneen, that he was falling in love with her. And a year later they were engaged.
Today, when Patrick and I had our lunch together, we talked about having a partner in life and how important it is. How the burdens and the worries of life are so much easier when they are shared. I encourage him to continue to spoil her and make her feel special. I crossed the line of politically correct and told him that every woman wants to be loved and taken care of. (Shoot me now..)
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my Patrick Francis will be a compassionate, supportive and caring husband. And Nazaneen is just the woman who will appreciate his still waters that run deep.
We finished off our lunch today at the hair salon in Morgan Hill- Patrick a nice trim and style. Mom- some highlights and a cut. After Patrick left, Carolyn, the stylist, commented on what a wonderful young man Patrick is.
I know. I’ve known it from the start. My middle child. My #2 son. He will always be tucked right below my heart.
My phantom limb.