A FATHER’S LEGACY

Over the past week, our family has been grieving the death of my Daddy. The town of Pontotoc in Northeast Mississippi that I will always call “home” has embraced my family with their prayers, love, and comforting presence.  Beloved as a Father, Grandfather and friend, his 48 year healing ministry as a family physician is what he will most be remembered for.  My sister, Patti, summed up his lifetime of service in the obituary she wrote:

“Dr. Patterson began practicing medicine at a time when it wasn’t unusual for patients to have the same physician from birth to death.  He made house calls, set broken bones, performed appendectomies and delivered babies at all hours of the night.  And very often, he played the role of trusted confidant as much as medical professional.  His patients could count on him to be there for a medical emergency, a personal crisis and even a little help in the kitchen.  Once on a house call, he recommended chicken soup for a patient, and she handed him a rifle and sent him outside to shoot a chicken for her.”

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Early on the morning of the memorial service, I had time to reflect on the gift of his life and ministry as I watched the light streaming through the beautiful stained glass windows of our family’s church, First United Methodist.  These windows which I have gazed on literally thousands of times throughout my childhood and teenage years seemed to take on new meaning. I think of the many milestones in my life that have taken place here:  my infant baptism, my confirmation, my oldest child’s infant baptism, my Mother’s memorial service in 2010.  And later that day we would all gather here to celebrate the almost 88 years that my Daddy has ministered to so many.  I truly felt an innate sense of peace and gratitude.

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Our dear family friend, Wilma Sartin, lovingly prepared gorgeous flowers for the graveside and memorial services.

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Lovely arrangements of flowers in our home communicated the love and sympathy of friends.

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After my Mother’s health deteriorated, my Daddy took a more active role working in her beloved rose garden. Tracy Kramer, a fellow rosarian and close friend of my parents, shared her lovely  garden roses with us during the week. She commented that my parents had gifted her with her first rose bushes when she moved to our town several years ago, and had encouraged her to start a rose garden.  I thought it only fitting to arrange them around a bust of David, a gift from my Mother to my Daddy many years ago.

During the last 3 1/2 years of my Daddy’s life, he graciously learned to be on the receiving end of health care.  He constantly demonstrated love, care, concern and even humor through these challenging years of deteriorating health. His life of sacrificial love, constant outreach and faith will continue to influence us all.  Truly, he followed closely in the steps of The Great Physician.

Daddy loved his 48 years of Family Practice, and enjoyed his last day of practice as much as his first.  Some would say he is somewhat of a  legend in this small northeast Mississippi town and county of Pontotoc.  However, his greatest role was that of a godly Father.

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(This sign was moved from his office to our guest parking area after he retired in 2003)

Two of my favorite quotes about fathers were needlepointed by my two sisters and me years ago.  They still hang on his study wall…

“Any man can be a Father, but is takes someone special to be a Daddy.”

“A Father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow.”

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26 thoughts on “A FATHER’S LEGACY

  1. I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. He sounds like a fine man. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. The flowers are gorgeous. Susan Warren

  2. Mary Lise, so beautifully told. Your Dad was a precious person to our family and all of Pontotoc. My favorite memory was when Dr. Patterson was getting a piece of bark out of my eye with a needle. He told me to keep my eye really still because the needle could scratch my eye. I was about 16. I was so nervous and happened to notice his bow tie had polka dots on it. Navy tie and white dots. I focused on those dots and all went well. Thanks for sharing his story with the world. Love, Belinda

  3. Your sweet Daddy would be so honored to read your blog about him…you definitely have his Godly spirit and determination! I know he was as blessed to have you as a daughter and friend as you were to have him as your Daddy. May the precious memories you shared comfort you and your sisters during this sad and difficult time. Hugs and love to you!

  4. Mary Lise, this is a beautiful tribute. It made me cry. I know you will miss him so much. I wish I had had the privilege of knowing him. Praying for you, friend.

  5. A beautiful and fitting tribute to a wonderful man. You mom and dad were always wonderful to me and my family when we moved to Pontotoc in the mid 1990s. Dr. Patterson had been my grandmother’s doctor many years before and welcomed our family to town in his typical, gracious, manner as a southern gentleman. He was wonderful to and about our severely autistic son. I am proud to have known this Pontotoc legend. He will be sorely missed by thousands.

  6. Mary Lise, I am a nurse too and worked with your Dad when he made rounds at the nursing home where I work in Pontotoc. Loved him. He was my in-laws doctor when I moved to Pontotoc in 1969. My husband remembers your Dad making a house call to see him one night when he was a little boy and had a “sore throat”-those were the days.

    • Thanks so much, Kay! Those wonderful memories are priceless and help with our grief. I was blessed to have him so long. His influence will always be present in our family. Seeing his grace, humor and positive attitude in his role of a patient these last few years has influenced my life in so many ways. He truly walked with the Lord, and had a servant’s heart..

  7. Mary Lise, what a sweet tribute to your daddy! I know the memories just come flooding back for you right now. It really is a bitter-sweet time… sounds like your parents left a wonderful legacy for you and your family.

  8. Mary Lise, we were sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Patterson. You and your family have been in our prayers. I am sorry that we were not able to attend the memorial services but mom was not feeling well. Please remember that if we can be of any assistance to you all do not hesitate to let us know.

  9. So very sorry about the passing of your father, Mary — I’m way behind in this comment I know, but your tribute here to you dad is wonderful and heartfelt. Prayers for you and your family.

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