On the West Coast, the house was finished and all the details confirmed. Pat’s friends had set up the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen with just enough similar-looking articles to pass for the old home for at least one night and morning.
In Kitchener, Pat began preparing her mom, “We’re going my place on the Island.” Pat’s mother was delighted to accompany her on the flight. She loved going to visit Pat’s Island.
They arrived at the Airport in the evening with enough time to catch the last B.C. Ferry. Friends met the ferry and picked up the cartons and luggage that accompanied Pat and her mom. Pat slowly drove to the new house. She coached her mother that they would need to go to Kitchener before they could go to her home on the Island. If there was any confusion, it was overridden by fatigue. They arrived at the new “old” home without a hitch. The minute her mom walked into the house, she strode into her familiar bedroom and began preparations for bed. She soon fell fast asleep.
Pat and her friends quickly unpacked the cartons and put every item in its old location.
The next morning, everything fell in place. Pat helped her mother through the morning preparations as quickly as possible so the scarcity of items would not be noticed. After a quick breakfast, they drove off to visit Pat’s little house at the other end of the Island. The movers arrived on schedule and using Pat’s details, placed all furnishings appropriately.
The drapes were put up and left closed.
Before they left the house, Pat would say, “Come on, Mom, we’re going to go to the Island and stay at my place for a while.”
Once outside the door, Pat would say, “Well, here we are on the Island. Let’s go and get some groceries.”
For the few remaining years of her mother’s life, she never suspected this was anything but her same old house. She died peacefully, in her replicated home, with her daughter by her side. She did not have to suffer the agonies and torture that could have accompanied change.
Years later, in 2006, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s very popular radio show, The Vinyl Cafe, was calling for nominations for the Arthur Award. The host, Stuart McLean was giving an award for some outstandingly ordinary or immensely simple event that was incredible. Stuart is a writer, a humorist, and a radio show host. He is used to being recognized everywhere.
I nominated Pat for her incredible act of love towards her mother.
Out of the hundreds of nominees, Pat was chosen as one of the 10 to receive the Arthur award in 2006. Stuart McLean excitedly phoned Pat, telling her she was one of the winners. He explained that her story would be told to audiences throughout North America.
Pat’s response was, “Stuart who? Oh, yah. You’re Amy’s friend.” She had given me permission to nominate her for the award. She was slightly amused that I was so awed by her gesture. She had put the whole affair out of her mind.
Consequently she did not do much for a radio celebrity’s ego.
She’d been too busy to listen to Radio Programs. She’d been raising funds to buy land and housing for low income people with no affordable place to live. She’d been occupied with government bureaucracies who were learning that when she knocked on their door, they were greeting a black-belt peacemaker who could reason anyone out of a donation.
Was it her unflattering response to Stuart that caused her story to be squeezed in the last few seconds of the show when it was aired? Hers was the last of the 10 winners to be mentioned. It barely made the final few seconds of the show.
That wasn’t the end of it.
Months later, Stuart McLean brought The Vinyl Cafe radio show to our Island. I phoned and asked Pat if she wanted to go to the show.
“No, but I’d like to meet him,” Pat said. Thinking she wanted to apologize, I wrote to the Vinyl Cafe and explained that Pat-the-Arthur-Award-Winner would like to meet Stuart.
Pat and I received our invitation to meet with Stuart at which time he immediately offered Pat a free ticket to the show.
“Oh, that would be nice, but the reason I wanted to meet you was to ask if you would put in a plug for Affordable Housing. It is badly needed on the Island.” I nearly fainted. No wonder this woman gets results.
Stuart said he would talk about it at the end of the show. However, Pat left the show early due to a previous commitment. I wondered if Stuart saw her leave. You see, he never did put in the plug he promised.
Doesn’t matter. Affordable Housing is happening and Pat is still my hero.
And what about her mother’s house?
Pat moved it off the temporary site, down to her property. She gives people temporary lodging until affordable housing is found.
Her mother must be proud. Doubly.