Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My great-aunt turned 100!

From the local paper in Warwick, RI.

Even at 100 she's ready to party
By John Howell

Patricia Hogan Shea is a tease.

Perhaps it has something to do with being born in Ireland, all the reading she does or maybe because she is 100 years old. She was teasing her friends and relatives Sunday who had turned out – one coming from as far as Texas – to celebrate at Greenwich Farms where Pat is a resident.

It was all a surprise for Pat, after all her birthday wasn’t until Monday, so she was caught off guard. You wouldn’t have guessed it from what she was wearing, a pink jacket and matching pink skirt. Her white hair was neatly in place. She doesn’t wear lipstick or rouge. She doesn’t need to.

When the elevator door opened on the third floor of the assisted living facility, Pat suspected something was up. In front of her was one of the facility’s home-like dens with a bar and chairs and tables. Balloons were tied to chairs and there were colorful pointed hats and noisemakers at each setting. There was an elaborate spread with freshly made scallops wrapped in bacon and other delicacies. There was white wine and a champagne punch with orange sherbet.

Pat eased into a chair – she uses a walker but can get along without it.

A glass of punch was placed in front of her while Marilyn Schavone of Greenwich Farms pinned on a corsage with a rose that matched her outfit.

Pat beamed at all the attention and looked up into the face of lawyer Richard Pierce who bent down to congratulate her. A member of the Providence firm of Hinckley, Allen and Snyder, Pierce had worked with Pat’s brother, Tom Hogan.

“How old will you be?” he asked.

“Twenty-one,” Pat replied with such aplomb that it would have been hard to question her.

“That means you can have a drink,” Pierce declared. Pat had no doubt she could have a drink.

But this reporter thought he better check, just to be certain.

“Twenty-one, but your birthday is tomorrow. Do you suppose you ought to wait?” he inquired.

Pat pondered this for a second. “You’re fresh,” she declared. “I think you like fresh men,” the reporter answered. Pat smiled a naughty smile.

“I do,” she said softy so as not to be heard by those gathered around.

The only one still living of four siblings – two brothers and two sisters – Pat has had a full and active life. She has traveled extensively and has a soft spot for her native Ireland and in particular County Clare. “It’s so green you hardly have to worry about the snow,” she said.

Also close to her heart is Brown University.

Pat graduated from Pembroke College, received a master’s from Brown University and went on to enjoy a distinguished career in the field of psychology, both professional and academic. She was the chief clinical psychologist for the Division of Alcoholism for the State of Rhode Island from 1960 to 1975, as well as a teacher and author. She lived much of her life in Cranston before moving to Greenwich Farms in Warwick.

Pat keeps up on what’s happening at her alma mater as evidenced by the alumni magazine in the rack of her walker. Beside it was the paperback romance novel Dream a Little Dream by Debra Clopton, that had her first cousin Eileen Ryan questioning if in fact it was Pat’s walker.

Ryan said history and biographies are customarily on Pat’s reading list, so fiction and romance didn’t fit the mold.

But then, Pat is one hundred. There’s no telling what she’s up to.

Jill Evans, who befriended Pat about 18 years ago, was there to give her a hug and extend her best wishes.

She said she loves Pat’s “directness and old fashioned honesty.” The family stories have also been a wonderful part of the relationship, she said.

Pat has a penchant for questions, especially of newcomers such as this reporter.
“What do you do? Where do you live,” she asked. Some of the questioning got a little redundant, but then she’s 100.

“You would make a good reporter,” she was told.

Pat smiled. News reporting wouldn’t have been in her plan.

When told she had lived a very full life, Pat nodded in agreement. Then she added, “I wish I could do it again.”

**And that is my mom's aunt :)**

Love, Kathleen