My Patrick

Mostly, it is too painful to even look at pictures of Patrick.  My wounds are so raw, and each healthy, vibrant picture I see is a new knife *stabbing* my heart, making me want to scream out that it just cannot be true!

I have this picture, though, that I like a lot.  I was never as athletic as Patrick.  He was always pushing me to join him in all his athletic activities–my engagement ring was a scuba diving equipment for the both of us (that didn’t last too long–I got a ring), my first birthday gift was two baseball mitts so we could play catch together.  He was always encouraging me saying, “I need you healthy so you can grow old with me.”

This picture shows our tandem bicycle with our daughter in the trailer.  Instead of getting me to ride my own bike, he pulled me on the tandem (I had always been afraid of bikes since I had a head injury in the 8th grade from falling from a bike).  In this picture he’s wearing his paddling, floatable Tilley Hat that characterizes him so, his eternal “Paddlefest” t-shirt, and a brace around his elbow for an injury that forced him from bricklaying and into nursing school.

Pat kept me going.  Family and friends are keeping me going now.  Please don’t stop!

In Tandem
In Tandem

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Tim Sawyer

    Nancy, This web site has been wonderful for all of us. Thank you for sharing! Love, Tim

  2. dawsyw3

    This website is the best thing ever. Hope you can keep it going would love to follow you and the children through the next years Thank you Sharon

  3. agglebee

    Nancy, I can’t even begin to express my sorrow for your loss. I will pray for you and your family that you will find healing in some small measure in time! This is a Hopi prayer that I hope will someday offer some comfort to you:

    Native American (Hopi) Prayer

    I give you this one thought to keep —
    I am with you still — I do not sleep.

    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow,

    I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.

    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift, uplifting rush
    of quiet birds in circled flight.

    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not think of me as gone —
    I am with you still — in each new dawn

    –All my love and prayers,

  4. Susie Zimmerer Sprinkle

    Our sincere prayers and deepest sympathy.

  5. MattAndDanielle

    The pictures are the hardest thing for me too. It hurts so bad to see them, yet I am so drawn to them. Part of me thinks I can get through it if I just let all of my emotions pour out. Seeing the pictures certainly makes them come pouring out.

    I was glad to see your new posts to the website. I hope this forum will help you as much as it helps the rest of us. Thank you so much for allowing us to be there with you in some way.

    Pat changed my life. Without him I would have never gotten involved in canoe racing and met all of the wonderful people in the paddling community. Tomorrow Matt Streib, Bill Kanost and I will be attempting to do something Pat always wanted to do (paddling 120 miles in the AuSable Canoe Marathon). The last thing he said to me was that he would be “following” me and he knew I would do great. I know that he will be with me and I hope to prove him right.

    Matt Meersman

  6. agoulet

    Nancy, you’re amazing! Instead of retreating into a shell of pain, you’re reaching out, connecting to this wide community of love and support, keeping Pat’s positive energy alive.
    In the posts, we’ve seen how Pat’s choice of nursing showed his commitment to others and how his paddling showed his passion and generosity. But as anyone who met him knew, it went beyond nursing and paddling; one of the many things I admire about Pat is that he brought these qualities to *everything* he did. Including, for example, bricklaying: I remember when he was working as a mason and you visited us in Boston — Pat spoke about his work with an amazing passion for craftsmanship and he connected it to the historical buildings, making me see the world around me in a whole new way. I saw him teaching little Danny about the care that went into building a log cabin or a cobblestone street… Pat was always learning and teaching, sharing and building. You and Pat *are* builders — and that’s what gives me hope for your beautiful family, for all of us who are suffering from this cruel loss, and for the world, which is a better place because of people like you.
    The four of us are sending love and prayers,
    Andrea, Jed, Jonah, and Maya

  7. Tilley

    Pat and I used to run around together in Middle School and High School… Although, we have not spoken in, gosh…I’ll bet it’s close to 15 years now…this comes as such a shock. Pat was always one of the nicest people to be around. My families thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Scott Tilley

  8. Shelly Otwinowski

    Nancy, I send you and your family our heartfelt prayers and love. Many years ago, we taught together at St. Patrick’s School in Kokomo. The smiles, kindness, and love that radiated from you and Pat will forever stay with me. I, too, am walking down this same path that God has layed for us. Andrew, Matt, and I lost our beloved George this past October. I share your pain, fears, and “why’s”?! We are so young and our children need their fathers. We will not have answers here in this life. But what I do know for certain is that your family and friends with their caring and loving ways will bring you through this very difficult time, and they will assure you and your children that you’ll never be alone. At times in the past nine months when I have questioned, “Where is God?’ I just look around at all the loving people that have helped us through these very difficult times and I know God is right by our sides. He will be forever near you and guide you as you walk the path he has layed for you. As I tell my sons, God is unfailing and loves us more than we’ll ever know! This website is a beautiful celebration of Pat’s life. The beautiful memories, pictures, and favorite stories are the start of your hearts journey to healing and the sweet proof of the promise that our loved ones remain near in spirit and their love lives on. If Andrew, Matt, and I can ever be of any help to you and your children, we are here for you. My sons are 10 and 12 years old and will be wonderful companions for your children. May God hold you close and comfort and encourage you day by day through the years ahead. In Deepest Sympathy, Shelly, Andrew, and Matt Otwinowski

  9. Johan Dahl


    My name is Johan Dahl and I live in Austin, TX. I met Patrick only one weekend in Holyoke, MA in mid June during the US Marathon Kayaking Trials. My friend John Baltzell and I flew up for a few days of fun hanging out with others who are crazy about kayaking as well. I distinctly remember your husband as we had several conversations. Obviously I did not know him well, but I could tell how enthusiastic he was about our sport and life in general. I have two young children and we spoke about the challenge having a family and still get time on the water. We invited him to dinner Saturday night; unfortunately he could not stay as we hooked up that night.

    I was very sad getting the news about his death. I know I am not even close to understand what you are going through. My sister lost her husband many years ago; she was left with 3 children. Even with that experience in our family, I am sure it’s more difficult than I can image for you and your children.

    I hope you will find a way to experience peace, hope, and love again.

    Most Sincerely,

    Johan Dahl

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