Years ago, when my wife Jeannine and I (and some months later, Kevin Eastman) moved to Sharon, Connecticut, I would occasionally make trips to a town about thirty miles away. This town -- Torrington -- was the only place within relatively easy driving distance that had a copy shop with a really good black and white copier. In those early days, before Kevin and I made enough money to buy our own copier, we would make that drive to make archival copies of various artwork, often times the inked pages of the TMNT comics before we did the tone work.
One thing we discovered in Torrington -- aside from the copy shop -- was a funky comic book shop with probably the best name I've ever heard for such a business: "My Mother Threw Mine Away". I think the store owner's name was Jack, and when we introduced ourselves as the Turtle guys, he was happy to buy TMNT comics from us. We'd go to this comic shop to get our regular "fix" of comics, maybe once every couple of weeks.
"My Mother Threw Mine Away" is gone now. I don't know when it closed. But today I was in the neighborhood -- in fact, at a church across the street from where the comic shop used to be. I was at this church to attend services for our dear, recently departed friend Pat, who -- I think it is safe to say -- was probably my wife's best friend. They met about twenty-five years or so ago when my wife taught English at the high school where Pat taught Special Ed students. It's the same high school that graduated Jim Lawson.
When Jeannine and I moved back to the Northampton area in 1986, after our two years in Connecticut, she and Pat stayed in touch. Eventually, Pat and her husband Ed came up to Northampton and I got a chance to meet them for the first time. I liked them both. Ed and I hit it off over a shared love of motorcycles (he's a Gold Wing man from way back). In fact, when Jim Lawson suggested riding out to San Diego about seventeen years ago, Ed signed on to make the trip with us. And it was great to have him -- not only as a friend and good traveling companion, but also for the increased confidence and comfort level which came with having someone along for the ride -- Ed -- who could actually FIX motorcycles. I got my first experience changing the oil in a Gold Wing somewhere out in the midwest, thanks to Ed's tutelage.
Over the years, Pat and Ed became closer to our family. We invited them to join us for Christmas, which they did for every year since our daughter was little. They'd join us for other holidays, like Easter and Thanksgiving, as well as spend time with us during our typical two weeks vacationing in Maine every summer. Ed worked on the construction of our house, and later started working for me to keep all of my bikes running smoothly.
About twenty-five years ago, Pat was diagnosed with lupus, and some years after that, with cancer. She fought both of these deadly ailments with more courage and grace than anyone I have known, and probably through sheer will lived several years longer than most people with the same conditions might have. But the cancer finally got the best of her, and this past Friday -- the day before we did our Free Comic Book Day thing in Rochester, NH -- Pat passed away at her home, in the company of several of the many people who loved her, including my wife. Jeannine didn't tell me about it until I got home on Saturday night -- I think she was holding off doing so as to not put a damper on my spirits during the signing for FCBD.
So today we gathered with a large group of her friends and family to say goodbye to Pat. My brother Bruce and his son Ben were there, with their wives Catherine and Kelly, as well as my sister Chris and another of Jeannine's longtime friends, Karen. My daughter Emily was there, having flown home for this funeral. Pat had been almost like a second mother to her, and Em loved her dearly. Jim Lawson was there, and Gary Richardson and his wife. During the service, Jeannine got up and said some moving words about Pat and what she meant to us. I could have listened to a lot more.
Pat, you were one of a kind... and you'll be sorely missed. -- PL