Sunday, October 21, 2018

Remembering Phil - my twin brother

Phil - 27

Philip Gregory Patterson

March 9, 1957 to September 16, 2018

Some of you may not have known, but I was a twin!

I was always so proud to be one. It is a special place to find yourself in life. It’s thrilling and agonizing, sometimes at the same time. Phil and I turned 61 this year. My best years with him were our first five years in Birmingham, Alabama where we were born,
15 months - Birmingham, AL
 and then through elementary school where we were becoming more independent of each other, making new friends and experiencing new things like sports and other activities. Phil was more extroverted than me, and throughout his life never new a stranger, and made many friends. He was taught mechanics by our father’s dad as a very young boy about six. As years went on Phil could fix anything with almost nothing (a true McGuyver)!
Phil's already at the wheel...I'm not so sure. #sweet
Phil always fixed my cars, and one of the last things he did for me was install a kitchen faucet, and he even helped me pick out curtains for the dining room. The ones I had picked matched in color but he didn’t like them, he said “takin’ us back to the 70s, are ya Tiss?” I laughed so hard, he had a beautiful sense of humor. He was right! So we headed off to the store to exchange them and he picked out the most perfect pair. They are a textured solid aquamarine blue with leaves and birds. I smile every time I look at them.

He was gorgeous all of his life, he made the Homecoming court in high school, not me! And he had a beautiful eye. He was fascinated with the way things worked. He not only loved cars, he liked timepieces, as he was very agile with his fingers on very tiny things. That gift came from his unique, gentle side. I called him the original “dog whisperer” because all dogs loved him, and he loved them back. He loved large dogs. He had an Irish Wolfhound in his 20s, and in his 40s he adopted two Great Danes from the Humane Society. One had been the victim of a bitter divorce. Yes, dogs get caught up in that stuff too.

Our lives were very different, we disagreed on many topics, but we worked well together on projects. It’s like Phil would think of the first half of the answer to a problem, and I would think of the rest. I remember once we had not seen each other for about a year and I drove home from out of town, pulled into the driveway and there he was, with friends, working on a car. He said “What are you doing wearing my sunglasses?!”

Our home. We loved that house-
I did not have on his, they were mine. He must’ve lost his, but they were evidently identical. It was always like that. The twin bond is real in a mysterious kind of way that most people can’t see. It even baffled us! 

Being a twin to Phil has been the most special blessing of my life. He made me laugh harder than anyone, and cry harder than anyone. Both of us had hard challenges throughout our lives and we worried each other senseless, but these last few years I’ve never seen him try so hard under such harsh circumstances. He was so strong inside and had a big heart...more than most people knew, because his gentle essence hid his true strengths, and vice versa. 

In my funky, dreamy wishes, at his memorial service, if our classmates had been there, this is what I would have said (because all my girlfriends had a crush on him). I would’ve said “I’d like to crow a little...I was the first one to get lost in his beautiful blue eyes...the first one to sleep with him, and the first one to see him naked!”

 My memories are in living color, and we are laughing, and doing dirty deeds as three-year old juvenile delinquents. Like the day the painters went on break and we painted a five year old silver! Our mother was inside, and we were left to our own self-expression. We found paint, and a canvas.
Us at apartments in Birmingham. Girl on right is one we painted...she lived.
 I heard a shriek and a puff of wind as she ran past me, grabbed the girl’s arm and literally drug her to the car and to the hospital. It took hours to get that outdoor faucet paint off her. We painted her from head to toe, she looked just like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz! Later, we were sitting with dad at the table and our mother came in looking drained, and daddy said “How’d it go?” She said, “Well, they didn’t press charges.” I laugh just thinking about that, I remember it so well. Yes, it will be the memories that will get me through. That, and God’s grace, which I know so well.

I have to laugh now, or I couldn’t go on. This is harder than I thought it would be. The stages of grief I’ve been through before, but not as Phil’s twin sister. I have gone from being numb to laughing, to recently, crying in my sleep. The pain is deep, but so are the memories. They are in living color, and we are laughing, and playing...together.

Take your rest now, Phil. Evidently God’s got more for me to do here on this earth, and then I’ll see you again.  I miss you so much, but I know where you are, and there is no suffering there, and I find great peace in knowing that. 

Til we meet again, one perfect day.
I love you forever,

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
                                            Philippians 1:21