Day 08 - Pat (2nd person I approached)
January 08, 2014 - When I approached Pat and told her about my project, she burst out laughing, and I wasn’t sure why.
“Oh, this is good,” she said.
“My husband and I were just talking about speaking to strangers the other day. He’s a mall-walker (exercises by walking an indoor circuit around a shopping mall). We were chatting about all the people you could meet, if it was easier to talk to strangers. But he said it’s difficult for a man to start talking to a woman, because she might get the wrong idea and think he was trying to pick her up. Which is so not the way my husband operates, being a prim and proper English gentleman," she said, shaking her head.
"And here I am, not even walking around, and you’re coming over and speaking with me,” she said, laughing. I assured Pat I wasn’t hitting on her, and she smiled, telling me “Oh, I know that, but it’s still funny. I can't wait to tell my husband!” And with that, she agreed to chat with me.
Pat was born in Vancouver, at VGH (Vancouver General Hospital).
“I have one brother, he’s three years younger than I am. We were close as kids, and still are,” she said.
“My father moved around a fair bit for his work. We lived in Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby (BC - British Columbia). We spent some time in Sechelt (Sunshine Coast) as well,” she said. I asked what she liked most about school.
“Oh, I don’t really remember anything that special. Except bowling. I mean that’s when I started five-pin bowling. I was maybe thirteen. We were living in Sechelt, and there wasn’t so much to do. We didn’t even have a library there. I had to order books that were delivered from the library in Victoria. I decided I’d give bowling a try and it turned out I was actually pretty good at it. I went on to compete in tournaments and won a bunch of trophies and badges. I tried ten-pin but it wasn’t the same. I stayed with the five-pin bowling,” she said.
“We even lived down in California (USA) for a while. My father had been laid off from the company he worked for, went and got his visa and we headed down south. This was during the sixties and there was still such racial tension going on. I went into one class and the only seat available was at a table with a group of young black girls. I went and sat there, never thought anything of it. The teacher seemed to beam with pride, the girls looked at me with shock, and the white kids started whispering to one another. It was dreadful. I had never seen anything like it,” she said.
Pat’s parents separated while they were living in California.
“My mother decided we’d head to Toronto, but we drove, right the way across the States (USA), and up into Ontario. I finished high-school there, in Toronto,” Pat told me.
“I was a bit of a rebel in school. But a quiet one. My mother said I always stuck up for the underdog. We had a teacher that liked to punish the entire class, with detention for misbehaving. She tried to pit the students against one another. It was only a few kids that were causing trouble, and she figured those that weren’t causing trouble would get mad at those that were. If I didn’t do anything wrong, I wasn’t going to stay behind,” she said, with a coy smile.
“I’d walk past the classroom and look in to see if I could catch anyone’s attention. I’d give them a wave and then head home. I was always prepared for a battle the next day, but I guess I was such a quiet rebel that no one ever noticed I hadn't stayed,” she said, with an air of disappointment.
“My mother told me ‘If you don’t don’t deserve it, don’t serve it,’ so I didn’t do detention if I wasn’t part of something that was wrong.”
“I had taken a law class in high-school and I liked it. When I finished school, I thought about being a lawyer. It was difficult back then for women to become lawyers. I got a job in a law office as a stenographer. It took me most of the day to type a letter,” she said, mocking the old manual typewriter.
“I would have lunch with the one female lawyer who worked in our office. She was mean. She was always dropping the ‘F’ word and I guess she had to be tough to get ahead in those days. I’ve never used the ‘F’ word myself, and never will. I’ve don’t think there’s any sentence that has a requirement for that word. But she seemed to like it,” said Pat.
“I decided that maybe being a lawyer wasn’t for me.”
Pat spent the next few years working in Toronto, then moving to Vancouver, and Victoria.
“Victoria was just too quiet for me. I felt trapped and isolated, with it being an island, so I eventually headed back to Toronto,” she said.
“I stayed with another legal secretary that I had worked with. She knew I didn’t have anywhere to stay. I got a job working with a good law firm and enjoyed being there. Then they transferred me to Vancouver,” she said laughing.
“My friend from Toronto was working for BC Packers (fish processing company). She called to tell me that she had given a man she met, my telephone number. He worked for BC Packers as well, in the Richmond (BC) office and she thought he and I would get along. She set us up on a blind date,” said Pat, with a twinkle in her eye. John called and asked her out.
“It was out of character for him to make that call. It must have taken him a lot of nerve. He picked me up to take me out for dinner. I was living in West Vancouver at the time. We were driving further and further up towards Grouse Mountain and I asked him where he was taking me. He said we were going to Trader Vic’s, so I told him he better take the next right turn. He was so nervous he was just driving, and didn’t realize we were headed in the wrong direction entirely!”
They dated for three years before marrying.
“Oh my goodness, it took him forever to ask me to marry him. I told him to hurry up, he was taking the best years of my life already. He bought a lovely Alfa Romeo car. I went with him when he picked it up. We spent hours and hours in that car, on dates and out for drives. We still have it too,” Pat said, smiling fondly at the memories associated with the car.
“We honeymooned in San Francisco and then went to England to meet his family,” said Pat. That was thirty-eight years ago.
“We have three children. Our daughter and we have two boys, twins,” she tells me, proudly. Pat had been working with the Law Reform Society for nine years before having their first child.
“I took time off to raise our children. I never went back to work after that,” she said. They spent four years living in Amsterdam, where her husband John was working.
"We lived near The Hague. The children went to The American School, which was wonderful because they did lots of trips and went to a number of different places," she said.
I mentioned that I was sure raising a daughter and twin boys was more than a full time job.
“Yes, well, my mother helped out from time to time. I read so many books about raising twins. Some people said they were a nightmare and that they’d be climbing all over the house by the age of two. Not in my house,” she says, patting her hand on the table we were seated at.
“I ran a tight ship. My children used to joke with me and say ‘Yes Sir, Mummy!’ It always made me laugh!" #notastranger