Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Patty Duke - a Personal Remembrance

 I was saddened yesterday when I read  actress Patty Duke had died. She was 69 years old.  For me,  and many of my contemporaries Patty Duke was someone we grew up with, her name a part of our youthful lexicon.   We first came to know her in  The Miracle Worker, the definitive film about  the young  Helen Keller.   Duke's outstanding performance  as the mute, deaf  Keller won her an Academy Award for best supporting actress.   I was reminded of my sophomore year of high school  when the Drama department decided on  the play The Miracle Worker for the Fall production , and remembered  our Drama coach, Mr. Phillips telling Carol Morris, the  student cast in the role  of Helen Keller to watch Patty Duke and immolate her acting style. I think it's fair to say The Miracle Worker and Patty Duke's  role as Helen Keller was  to her  what Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz was to Judy Garland

I thought about her popular  television series, The Patty Duke Show in the early 1960's and how I tried never to miss an episode.   Patty played duo roles , identical cousins Patty and Cathy. She played each part so well, it was hard to believe Patty and Cathy really weren't two different people.
Once,  after visiting my cousin, Shauna for two weeks in Salt Lake City,  and hearing over and over how much I looked like my cousin, I would sometimes daydream , like young teenagers often do , that Shauna and I could star in our own television show - with Shauna as the well spoken, sophisticated  Cathy and me as the more care free Patty.

Fans read about Patty Duke in  magazines; her relationship with Desi Arnaz, Jr. , her marriage to John Astin , the birth of her son, Sean. Her challenges with being Bipolar,  and the positive light she brought to mental illness.    

After my family  and I moved to north Idaho in 1992, I thought it very cool   Patty Duke and her husband had also  moved to north Idaho where she became  active with charities and local theater in Coeur d Alene and Spokane.   I was lucky to see Patty  live on stage - once  where  she starred ,   along with my young cousin Mallory Cooney King  in the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Coeur d  Alene Summer Theater .  Patty, as always was a delight to watch, her love for performing so evident. I remember that performance  well as it   helped lift  some my heart's   heavy sadness  after my brothers recent passing.


Mostly, in thinking about Patty Duke  what came to mind was the night my husband, Gary and I went to see the musical Gypsy starring Patty  as Mama Rose at the Spokane Civic Theater.  I brought my copy of her autobiography ,  Call Me Anna  along just in case she might sign it.  And to my great delight she did!   Gary and I hung around  after the curtain went down to check with the attendant about having Patty Duke sign my book.  The attendant asked us to wait while he spoke  with Patty Duke about it.  Before long he returned, asking us to follow him as he ushered us backstage.  As I walked toward the chair  where Patty was sitting , she stood up, put her hand out to shake mine and introduced herself.   Like she would need introducing!  I was surprised to see how petite she was, and how approachable. Her smile so natural and real, so welcoming!   She had a twinkle in her eye as we conversed back and forth. If I had thoughts about being nervous asking her to sign my book, there was no need, she put me completely at ease.  After a few minutes she asked for the book   I had tucked under my left arm ,  grabbed a pen from the nearby table and signed it:

Love to you, Kathy
from Anna
Patty Duke
Nov. 1, '03

Meeting Patty Duke that night made a special night out even more special.

But that's not the end of the story.  A few years ago , I had somehow lost the book.  I searched everywhere for it, but could find it nowhere.  Unusual for me to misplace a favored book,  as I am  known to keep good care of books. For months I  ranted about losing the book to friends and family,  and  finally had to presume the book was wrongly placed in a  box for discard.  Reflecting on Patty Duke's  passing yesterday ,  I was  disappointed all over again for having lost  the book she had inscribed to  me. I went on about chores, took an afternoon walk, and thought to myself, if I ever find  that book now, it would be a miracle !  It wasn't to much later , after I was back in the house that a  jolting, bolting   thought pressed me  to go to the bookshelves in the Study. I had already looked there  several times for the Duke book,  I thought it would be a waste, but the thought was so compelling and insistent  I should look again, I did.  And lo and behold after pulling three books from the shelf, there it was !  Call Me Anna !  I quickly pulled it from where it was, turned  to the opening page where Patty Duke had written  her inscription,  and smiled !


Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Day of Thanks

Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie - the traditional dinner menu of millions  celebrating Thanksgiving  Day, this uniquely American holiday set aside to give thanks to God for His providential guidance and bountiful love. For family and friends and  all we hold dear; for our Nation, with its many natural resources ; rivers and forests, mountains and prairies. Crops and grain, the fruited plain. And the generous spirit of its people, always willing to lend a helping hand, to persevere  when the challenge seems hard and  press ahead.
For freedom to choose a better way - righteous and good. To worship God; not to exclude our  faith from the market place, government buildings or schools, but to include it in our private and public life - to lift our gaze toward the Heavenly Creator and give thanks.

Note:  The First National Thanksgiving Proclamation 1777
           Continental Congress

Friday, September 4, 2015

Forever In My Heart

Dates and places
and faces of people we love
forge a memory in our heart
to remain forever
a part of us,  and help
shape who we are,
so strong not even
death can diminish
the remembrance
of that time
when the one we loved
stood near, sharing our
laughter and tears
I think of my brother, Walt
who would have celebrated
his 61st birthday today;
his  smile, his words, the
sound of his voice; his warm
hug hello, and his last hug
good-bye. I cherish the boy he
was, the man he became;
my little brother, my forever friend


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Moments of Grace & My Brother, Walt

Sometimes little moments of grace, or an unexpected  surprise pleasantly  touches our life  and we can't help but smile, and be thankful.

This past April I was blessed with two such moments.  The first happened  while I was making the two hour drive from my house in Worley to my mother's home in Clarkston, WA. The drive isn't difficult, but some stretches of the highway can seem long and lonely, especially in bad weather. On this day, a  heavy rain and dark gloomy clouds cast a heavy shadow all about me,  and I considered calling mom to tell  her I would come down another day. But I kept driving,  and as I always do when travelling I prayed a simple, but sweet prayer I learned in childhood

                              Angel of God
                              my guardian dear
                              to whom God's love
                              commits me here
                              ever this day
                              be at my side, to
                              light and guard
                              to  rule and guide. Amen

It seemed no quicker than I  finished with amen I heard the familiar voice of my brother  say, Hi, Kathy, how are you ? Although Walt died nearly 5 years ago,  his voice  seemed so real I couldn't help  myself from looking toward the passenger seat. As I felt his presence, and recognized his smile,   I joyfully exclaimed,  Walt ! It's you! I've missed you so much, how are you ? Good, he said, Don't worry. Keep going, you're gonna be okay.  I had so much I wanted to ask him, to talk with him about, to share. But the moment soon passed, and Walt was gone. But the feeling of peace and joy I experienced  lasted throughout the day, and I thanked my guardian angel for inviting my brother to ride with me, to  be my angel that morning.

Two weeks later, when  Gary and I agreed it was time to replace a broken window in our back door, the one leading from the laundry room onto the deck, another moment of grace touched my life, one that also involved my brother.

 The window had been broken since mid winter, the opening covered with a heavy piece of plywood to keep the snow and cold out. But now spring was on the way, and we  were ready for the sun to shine through.  I called several places to see about replacing the window and was quoted prices  ranging from $225. to $125.  All more than fit our budget, or what we wanted to spend.

 Finally,  Gary decided to load  the door in the back of  our rig , and we took it into town to see if one of the glass companies  there could replace the window. Not much luck, until we talked to fellow who   suggested we stop at Coeur d Alene Building Supply. When Gary and I walked in, we were directed to an office in the back of the store.  The salesman greeted us and motioned us to sit down. Yep! They could get a window for us.  I noticed the  business cards on corner of his desk, and asked if his name was Walt (the name on the card), he said yes, it was. I told him my brother's name is Walt, that he passed away a few years ago. Then the salesman Walt said, guess that means we'll have to give you the Walt discount !

I had two twenty dollar bills and laid them on his desk. Walt the salesman said, "We can make that work".  I told Walt the salesman, my brother Walt is smiling, knowing he was part of this transaction, getting us the Walt discount ! 

So that's my story. Some might say, a fanciful one,  just coincidence. And  that's okay. But not, me. I say there are no coincidence's, only Godincidence's  as my  grace moment with Walt while driving to my mothers , and the way Gary and I  got our replacement window shows.  It still makes me smile when I think of both these happenings, knowing  grace moments touch our life  more often than we know, if only we look for them, and my brothers  presence will always be with me.

*** In memory of Walt Cooney
September 4 , 1954 - May 30, 2010


Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015 - Veteran's & Family History

Memorial Day is more than just the unofficial start to summer, camping trips and Memorial Day sales at local retailers to draw shoppers into their stores,  it is the day Americans  set aside to remember our fallen soldiers killed in war and  all the  deceased who served in the military,  in a special way.  Throughout our nation are parades, political speeches and picnics. Family members , patriotic organizations, church groups visit cemeteries to place flags and flowers at the gravesites of Veteran's to honor their sacrifice; to keep them in memory.  We are reminded there is a cost to freedom.

This year my celebration of Memorial Day coincides with my applying to become a member of Daughters of the American Revolution.  A timely  intersection it seems to me,  as DAR does such a wonderful job in honoring Veterans, both living and dead throughout the year , and in fostering  patriotism  and love of liberty by preserving the American spirit. My patriot is John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. I am a descendent of John Hart via my paternal grandmother, Vera Williams Cooney and her father Gus Williams. Grandma never became a member of DAR, but her younger sister, Myrtle did,  and Grandma encouraged me to pursue membership, too.

While proving lineal decent from a patriot of  the American Revolution can be a lengthy process, it is well worth the time and effort to discover both a familial and historical connection through the  generations, and share a bond with women, as stated in the DAR brochure, that continues the tradition of promoting patriotism, education, and historic preservation.

So this Memorial Day as I honor and remember deceased family members

                                        Andrew G. Norton (WWI)
                                        Cecil E. Cooney (WWI)
                                        Lloyd E. Cooney (WWII)
                                       Robert Breedlove (WWII)
                                       Leo J. Thorson (WWII)
                                       Austin Twiford (WWII)

and  their service to our country, I also think of my ancestor John Hart and the important role he played in helping to establish liberty and freedom for all in the  United States of America.

God Bless our Veteran's,  and God Bless America !