September 18, 1951.....August 29, 2011
Have noticed that the stars are shining more brightly lately? That is because one of our world’s great stars, Pat Mass, has joined the celestial array. I am saddened that we can no longer view her eyes twinkling and see her smile light up the room. But I have wonderful memories of that and I can look up and know that she is there.
Pat and I first became acquainted when she entered the Metropolitan Community College’s Dietary Management program. I was the instructor and she was a student who was as eager to learn as any one who ever entered. She was a star student.
I was also fortunate to be Pat’s Consultant Dietitian at Indian Hills Nursing Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. There she became a star Dietary Manager. I will never forget the day when Pat stepped up from being a co-worker with her staff members and took her first step as a star Dietary Manager! From that day forward, there was no doubt that she was in control. A STAR was born!
Pat came from a large family. If my memory serves me well, she had eleven siblings. She understood very well the give and take of family dynamics and the loving support that comes from it. These skills poured over into the way she led her life. And in Pat’s case, she gave far more than she ever took. She loved her family and treated all of us as if we were cherished members of her extended family.
Pat named her only daughter Angel. She adored Angel and the two of them had one of the closest Mother/Daughter relationships that has ever been witnessed. This is going to be an extremely hard time for Angel. Angel, you can never doubt for one minute that you were truly and deeply loved!
Chief Seattle is quoted as having said, “There is no death, only a change of place.” I believe that. So Angel, when times are hard and I know they will be, look towards the night sky. See that star? That is your Mother shining down and watching over you just as she has done every day of your life.
When Lacey Wilson, Pat’s first grandchild, was born Pat could hardly wait to share the news and, of course, the photos. Lacey was a frequent visitor to Indian Hills even as an infant. Pat loved to share her with all of the Residents and staff of the facility. We watched Lacey grow and watched Pat’s pride continue to blossom.
Lacey is now a beautiful young lady, a high school student, and works part time at Bethany Lutheran Nursing Home. Lacey looks amazingly like a young Pat and while no one knows what the future holds for Lacey, her Grandmother’s influence will no doubt be with her forever.
I remember the day that Pat introduced me to her new son-in-law, Rob. She was so happy that her Angel had found happiness and she was so pleased to introduce its source. Rob may have Mother-in Law stories to tell, but my guess is, there are far more good ones than the type usually told. Rob is going to have some difficult days ahead while not only coping with this loss himself, but helping his family work through it as well. My money is on him to be a “rock” for them during this troubling time.
I remember the day that Rob and Angel’s son, Austin, was born. At first Pat was a bit bewildered. He was a boy. Pat knew what to do with and for girls….a boy was a new concept for her. But it didn’t take long for her to catch up to full speed. Like Lacey, Austin was a frequent visitor to Indian Hills. Pat enjoyed sharing his little boy antics with us and we loved to watch him grow. Austin is such a sweet and polite young man. On Wednesday night after I got over my shock about how much he had grown since I last saw him, I asked, “Austin, are you a good boy?”. He hesitated a minute while a beguiling little grin came over his face and he responded, “sometimes”. Austin, know that Grandma will be watching over you ….so you better make that answer “most times”.
If all Long Term Care facilities were fortunate enough to have a Dietary Manger like Pat, the world would be a better place. Pat did not have a job or career in long term care. She had a passion in long term care. She was passionate about her residents…..Mind you, not the residents, but HER residents. She not only wanted the best for them; she expected it and when necessary she demanded it.
Pat brought out the best in everyone she came in contact with. She made us aspire to be as good as we can be. Her influence is and will continue to be vast. While she is now in another place, her star qualities will continue to shine upon us all of the days of our lives. So at night, look for the brightest twinkle in the heavenly skies….that’s my friend Pat Mass. She will be watching you. Shine on Pat!