There’s a saying that reads: people may forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Patsy Scott was one of those treasured souls
If you’re around my age, you most likely remember the 80s sitcom Cheers. Centered around the bar’s owner and bartender Sam and the tavern’s many colourful staff and patrons, there was much comedy and joviality served up along with pints each and every week.
The main draw of the show, however, was the idea that going to a place where everybody knew your name was just a nice thing, and that Cheers was a special place to hang and spend some quality time.
WHERE YA ‘LONGS TO
While many businesses throughout Newfoundland cling tightly to that homey feel, greeting regulars by name and grilling strangers – in a jovial, kindly, where ya ‘longs to type of way until enough was known about them to write a few chapters in a book, or at least enough to scope them out later on Facebook – in most businesses throughout the city’s core, customers remain nameless while faces swim in a sea of sameness.
It’s something easy to adjust to. Having lived in Ontario for 13-plus years, between Ottawa and Mississauga, that’s just how life goes. Moving back around the bay to an outport changed things, of course, and after the briefest readjustment, I again got used to everyone knowing not just my name, but the names – and whereabouts – of my youngsters, as well as details about ancestors and remote relations many I’d never met or heard, tell of my own self.
Then it was back to city dwelling and I easily adapted to being a stranger once more, until I happened upon Patsy at the Starbucks on Stavanger. I think our first encounter was the drive–tru window. Somehow, she recognized my face from my headshot in The Herald. ‘‘Pam!’’ she screamed. ‘‘How’s your dad making out?,” she asked, referencing a story I had written months prior. I replied to her query, but there were more questions, all clearly demonstrating she never missed a column. I was honoured, flattered and thrilled this stranger knew so much and cared enough to engage me in such a sweet manner while so very busy. I knew instantly I’d be back.
I ran into Patsy often after that encounter, not only going back solo for a coffee and a yarn, but gleefully dragging along anyone and everyone up for a cup-a-coffee simply to get a dose of Patsy and to wallow in her cheerfulness. I also admit I liked showing off – just a little. Hey. Who could blame me?
It’s a super cool feeling to walk into a busy business on Stavanger Drive and experience your own; ‘Normmmmmmmm!’ moment, something made much sweeter when you had an audience, or a witness.
I soon learned Patsy and I grew up not far from one another. Our parents knew each other, plus we had attended the same schools, though I was a few years younger. Like myself, Patsy had a son she adored. She filled me in on little nuggets from his day-to-day life and she’d ask, always using his name, how my lad was making out. She also had a granddaughter she treasured. We’d swapped little girl yarns and laugh and roll our eyes at some antic of theirs.
WARMNESS & ENTHUSIASM
Patsy never forgot a thing: not a name, not a date, and not a whereabout. She always followed up on the latest and greatest since the last time we spoke, taking care to mention our last chat for reference. I soon learned I wasn’t the only one Patsy greeted with warmness and enthusiasm at both Starbucks and her other place of employment, Bellissimo Bistro & Espresso Bar.
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I was sipping a coffee there one day when a tourist dropped in to see her before heading to the airport, just to say goodbye. That wasn’t a stand alone incident, either. Over and over I witnessed Patsy’s unique ability to never forget a face, a name, or an order. Like heading into the fictitious Cheers, it was a unique feeling to spend time and coin in a business where you felt like part of the family.
Well, Patsy isn’t around anymore. She was killed tragically at her home on December 21st. Her partner of 30 years is also no longer alive. I’m sure, dear readers, you can read between those tragic lines. There’s no judgment here, just sadness, knowing someone with the ability to spread so much joy and cheer to others is forever lost, though no doubt never, ever forgotten.
KIND & THOUGHTFUL
While Patsy always filled my cup while also fueling my ego by making me feel as if I made her day just a little brighter just by showing up, I now see the truth. While I selfishly thought I was walking into a place where, at the very least, at least one somebody knew my name, truth was, Patsy made sure through her genuine and generous spirit, that absolutely everybody, and I mean everybody, knew hers. I posted news of Patsy’s death on Facebook. I also mentioned where she had worked. In an instant, people messaged me, expressing how she had made them feel exactly the way she had always made me feel: special, wanted, and yes, loved and missed.
I visited the funeral home during her wake. It was sad. Seeing her smiling face in a snapshot next to her urn just didn’t seem right. I expressed my condolences to those who loved her most, shared some shocked hugs and words of disbelief with others who knew her as I did – as a ray of sunshine – I signed the guest book, and I left.
The day of her funeral I visited Patsy’s Starbucks location, thinking it would be nice to share a few memories with others who knew her, or just be in a place where I’d sense her presence. The store was closed, out of respect. Made sense. No doubt her coworkers had been crushed by the news of her death and wanted time to mourn one of their own, and for sure more than a few customers-turned-friends also felt the draw to attended her funeral.
A FINAL THOUGHT
I drove on to the office, not bothering to make another coffee stop, for it wasn’t the caffeine I was craving that morning, it was Patsy’s company. For the times she gave so freely of that and so much more, I thank her from the bottom of my heart.
So Cheers to you, Patsy. Taking much liberty with the Cheers theme song, which wisely reminds us that making the way in the world these days takes everything we’ve got, here’s a final thought. May you now be in a place where you can take a break from all your own worries, and forever be content in knowing that few will ever forget your name, your smile, or how you made them feel.
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