Worth the read…. Great story.

Live & Learn


Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be…

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I have an incredible son. He is solving and I am blessed beyond belief to share this life with him, and all of his brothers… Love you Jordan!


I am usually the last person to tell people what do and how to act. I’m far too passive and non-confrontational to get myself into any situation that would force me to express any views I have that may disagree with another person. But this is something I think is very important. If there is one thing in life I will never understand, it will be family not liking family. Maybe because I’m so close with my family, it is hard for me to see it from a different point of view, but there is something so precious about people in your blood-line. I mean, they are your family. There is no one else in the world that can be closer. I know it is extremely cliché, but life is too short. There simply isn’t enough time in a lifespan to love the people around you enough, more or less spend any time disliking them…

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I am fast approaching an age that, when I was young, seemed “SO OLD”!    How did I get here already?  I used to revel in the fact that I was always the youngest member of the bands I would sing with, and now, some of the guys I work with are my kids’ ages.   None of that really bothers me, because when you get on stage, it’s all about the fun and the communication.  I do know that I have been agonizing over what kind of celebration to have.   I have agreed to a very fun disco party with my youngest brother, Paul, and his wife, Julie.  Also, my brother, Ricky’s wife, Lou Ann.  We did this when we each turned 40 and 50, and we danced to our hearts content.  We also stayed over night at the hotel we had the party at and didn’t have to worry about clean up and the like.   This was so much fun, because we also didn’t have to “sit in”, which is not what I wanted ANYONE to feel obligated to do.   We have that on the docket to do again, but our ages are 60 x 2 and 50 x 2.  So…  220.    Whew! That’s a lot of years!

I am fortunate to be here to celebrate my birthday.  I have survived what many people don’t, and that is called Aortic Dissection.    I was talking with my sister, Linda, about just how lucky I am that I am here, living life as though nothing happened to me.    I couldn’t agree more.   I am so busy…..  Singing, speaking, radio, being a mom and a grandmother, wife, family member, friend, and part time minister.   I work out, I walk, and I am a good dog mom (Lexi walks with me).   I really and truly feel that good.  Every year, I need to get an MRI to make sure there hasn’t been any further damage to my aorta, and that the aneurism that is at the graft site on my upper aorta, isn’t getting any bigger.    If it does reach the size of 5 centimeters, I will need to change my life someone what, and eventually, maybe have surgery again.  I don’t even THINK about that possibility.   The strange thing is, I didn’t feel my enlarged aorta 7 1/2 years ago, so if there as something going on now, I wouldn’t know without the help of the MRIs that I must have.  Although I am afraid I might start glowing some day from the contrast die, at least I have the opportunity to stay on top of what ever the next right thing is for me.  I also don’t live from that place of fear, where some other patients I have spoken with do.   As a matter of fact, I got out of reaching out to the patients after their dissections while I was caring for my mother.    After she passed away in June of 2013, I didn’t find the energy to go back to being in service to others ‘like me’ after that.  Maybe I will return to that.   I do find that spending time with the American Heart Association is a neutral place to be me with my symptoms, and I like the ability to fit in and spread the word about heart health, even though my incident wasn’t my heart, per se. I do live with an artificial heart valve, so it truly is about it all.

Approaching 60 with out my momma.  Jeanne Arland Peterson.   I still carry her in my heart and try and find ways to keep her memory alive.  The family ( minus Paul) just did a fund raiser for a new band shell for Richfield.  This is the city we all grew up in, and mother lived until her last days.   Paul has now bought the house, so that music history is still going to be happening there.  We hope to have a new band shell in Richfield named after Mother, and maybe even after the Peterson Family.  We will have another meeting and see.    Also, I am getting ready to go to New Ulm and donate some of mothers items of interest to her case that people will see when they want to see the people who have been inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall Of Fame.    Mom was the 2nd woman after Judy Garland.  There have been more women now, but for years, it was an impressive piece in her bio.  It still is, in my book!

I will also be working with WCCO radio and Pavek Broadcasting Museum to donate some of mother’s things.  Charts, photos, etc, and then we will have her memory honored in several places.   The last one is the scholarship that we created in her name at the University of Minnesota for Jazz Studies.  We have to get to the bottom of how and when that money we raised from her funeral will be used towards a student’s growth.

I am active and learning constantly.  I am very tech savvy and have been able to train in 2 new guys for rotating subs, like I am. Bobby Vandell is one of the men that I have trained.  Fun to have another thing to share with such an old and dear friend.   I produced a show called “The Minnesota Jazz Legends: The Elders” in the summer of 2014.  I was able to honor Irv Williams, Cliff Brunzell, Doris Hines, James Cornbread Harris, Russ Moore, Kenny Horst, Gary Berg, Jeanne Arland Peterson and more.   8 segments and It sounded so good!  I was proud of that grant from the Minnesota Arts and Legacy foundation, and I was thrilled to get it completed by a late June date for air.   What a wonderful experience.

To start my 60th year, I am going back to LA to sing.  Catalina’s this time.   I hear it is a really nice jazz club, but we are bringing our smooth and contemporary sound, along with some great jazz tunes.  I hope of create more opportunities to work there.   We will see!!    In the meantime, there is to much more to say about life with my music, my kids, my mate, my friends, my family, but perhaps I will take each category and expound once in a great while.

In the meantime, I TRUST where I am and that I am being used to my highest degree.  After all, I got spit back out once so I could get back to work here.   Being able to finish raising my kids, watch them graduate, get married, have children, and then be with my brilliant mother in there final years as closely as I was have all been my rewards.     Was I different after ny near death experience?  Yes I was.   What bothered me before, doesn’t seem to bother me any more.  Well, at least not very much, if it does at all.

In anticipation of the beginning of my 60th year… it’s not so bad.    I created a lot of love in my life, and I am so fortunate in so many way, words cannot express.     Thank you God and Goddess!!!!  Blessed Be….    “Priestess Patty”

P.S.   As I finished my last line, I realized it was my dad’s birthday.   Happy birthday Dad.  I bet you are loving having your sweet wife with you again.  We miss her so hug her for me please.    love Pat-Tooney.

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