Thursday, August 13, 2009


This Saturday the inspiration for this cartoon turns 95 years old. At the time of this cartoons’ composing, my friend Pat Dix was about 76.

Pat is the mother of Pam (a member of the Council of the Sleepover). She has been a friend of mine since I became an adult, but even before that she was someone special to me.

When I was a child she had, long beautiful black hair that she braided and secured to her head with exotic combs. But she’d let it flow freely down her back or in a single braid in the summer when she was gardening. The summer sun tanned her olive skin to a perfection envied by us teens who’d spend hours slathered in baby oil with sun reflectors made of Reynolds wrap angled at our necks to get just the right distribution of rays.

She worked hard at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital handling the autoclave in the sterilization unit. Then her refined good taste, sense of style and natural elegance shone through as a sales woman at Birk’s – later to become People’s Credit Jewelers (managed by my uncle Lou). And her sense of adventure, challenge and passion for reading was employed in her position as the Bookmobile lady for the local library. During a time in which many of our mothers stayed at home she worked out of necessity – having been widowed in her 40’s. I was well aware of this and admired her strength and all the things that she could do.

Her home is filled with her artwork. Oil paintings adorn her walls; one of a beautiful, slender, black woman comes to mind as do the many landscapes. Her skills as a craftswoman are displayed on upholstered chairs which she has elaborately embroidered, quilts which cover her beds, picked-thread-work runners and table cloths. I’ve watched her do counted threadwork – in white relief no less, and manage countless bobbins of thread, skills I could never imagine having the patience for in my wildest dreams.

I think we really became friends when Pam was away in other places and I would continue to visit Mrs. Dix, who began insisting I call her Pat and we’d have a coffee and talk about art and life. She includes Coronation Street and the motor sport racing circuit amongst her many interests. She always had time for me, made me feel welcome and appreciated.

The best thing someone can do for me is to teach me a skill and help me perfect it and I am eternally grateful to Pat for teaching me how to knit. For a few years I belonged to various informal weekly knitting groups that met at her home: one was comprised of members of the council and another consisted of my sister-in-law Patti, her sister Maureen, and me.

I’ll always remember Pat and me sitting in her sun room, working on our projects; waiting for Patti and Maureen to arrive. We’d hear their car pull in to her gravel driveway. There would always be a substantial pause before a car door would slam. Then Pat and I would crack up (she’s got a great laugh accompanied by a broad smile that crinkles up the corners of her eyes) at the decibel level increase that occurred as Patti and Maureen chattered to each other on their way to Pat’s door. “Here we go.” Pat would chuckle. Pat’s a low key sort and those evenings would be filled with fevered discussions and much laughter. I’m sure we wore her out on many an occasion but you’d never know it as she always welcomed you in with a smile, every time.

With her love of colour, texture, design and her innate teaching ability, she inspired me to knit; she was surprised at how quickly I picked it up but I know it was due to her inspiration. And for years I have taken my work over to her for her perusal.

So, the cartoon, well it was an actual conversation which I slightly shifted for it was Pat who told me the story of going to a fast food restaurant and having a little “twerp” call her ma’am and how she hated it because it made her feel like some little old lady.

I was thinking to myself, "but, Pat you are" when she continued, “it’s not fair” she said, “being in an ageing body; all young people see when they look at me is wrinkles and grey hair when inside I really feel like I’m still 20. They don’t see the young person inside.”

Just last Christmas when Pam, Glyn and I were having a knitting night at Pat’s I reminded her of that conversation and I asked, “I guess you still feel like you’re 20, eh?”

“No, not 20” she paused for a while, smiled and then chuckled, “probably around 30”.

So Pat from my 18 year-old self to your 30 year-old self.


And, to everyone else, next time you’re talking to a 90 year old remember to say hi to the 30 year old inside.
(cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1990)

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