A friend on mine recently passed away. Her name was Patricia. You probably didn’t know Patricia, although it is quite possible you noticed her walking along a local sidewalk, looking a little lost. I often saw Patricia in a variety of Peninsula cities, as far north as San Mateo and as far south as Los Altos. She was hard to miss as she never wore more than a t-shirt.
Patricia was homeless and mentally ill. She was what we call a Germaphobe; I am sure she had other disorders as well. About 25 years ago a few of us at CPC met Patricia and began helping her stay off the streets and stay fed. We learned that Patricia had once led a normal life. She had parents, siblings, a husband and a daughter. Sometime in her 40’s, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that left her mentally disabled. Over time, we became Patricia’s friend. She was really a delightful person when you got to know her. She loved the old time actress Jennifer Jones. She had a way with numbers. And she had quite a sense of humor! I will never forget how, as my hair grayed over the years, she would tease me about it. I loved that about her. Many people at CPC took a personal interest in Patricia, listening to her, helping her in practical ways, laughing with her, and considering her a friend.
Often times, I must admit, I’m afraid of people like Patricia. I avoid even making eye contact with them. But as I reflect on my friendship with Patricia, I’m the one who loses out when I do this. Jesus once said of people like Patricia, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). It seems that in an almost mysterious way Jesus identifies with people like Patricia. Perhaps that is why we who knew her were so blessed by her friendship — as we loved and served her, somehow she was mediating the presence of Jesus to us. Through Patricia, we were somehow able to enter more deeply into His heart. From now on, whenever I hear those words, You did for me, I will think of Patricia.
July 24, 2017 at 4:34 pm
Having been homeless myself, I can appreciate your story regarding Patricia. I done the same to others who I did not take time to know. But the few who I stopped and took time to listen to them added to my life and spirt. 👍❤️
July 25, 2017 at 3:46 pm
I remember Patricia. I am so glad our church loved her.
August 5, 2017 at 6:54 pm
I’ve grown up here my whole life. Seen her around all over but mostly in San Carlos. May she Rest In Peace.
August 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Thank you for this post. I saw Patricia on a regular basis here in Belmont and was always worried about her. However, she never looked lost when here, more like a lady without bloomers going shopping which always seemed a little disconcerting to me. My she rest in peace.
August 9, 2017 at 12:24 pm
Thank you for the comment.
August 5, 2017 at 7:13 pm
I love her! Thank you for sharing more of who she was 💛. May she Rest In Peace.
August 9, 2017 at 12:24 pm
You are welcome, she will be missed.
August 5, 2017 at 7:22 pm
This is incredibly beautiful. I remember her well. Rest In Peace dear Patricia.✝️
August 9, 2017 at 12:25 pm
August 6, 2017 at 1:05 am
I thought you would like to read the comments people wrote about her death on the Facebook page, You Know Your From San Mateo….
She was an icon here and everyone who interacted with her, loved her!❤
August 9, 2017 at 12:25 pm
Jill, thank you so much for sharing. I will take a look at that Facebook group.
August 6, 2017 at 1:49 am
Omg! I knew her when she shopped in Redwood City! She was a wonderful person and I loved talking with her. She always apologized for her germ phobia, I told her no problems. I’m sorry to hear she is gone, may she have peace now that she is home again!
August 9, 2017 at 12:26 pm
She was a wonderful person!
August 6, 2017 at 7:19 am
Thank you for loving her so well.
August 6, 2017 at 9:38 am
I always wondered about her. As a teen I would see her on the bus and just always thought she was coming or going to a pool, because of her attire. Glad she found kind people.
August 6, 2017 at 10:50 am
Sad to hear of the passing of our T-shirt lady – glad to learn her name today. She is with Jesus now and I am sure there are many of us who will miss seeing her and enjoyed her quirky but unique, pure & kind presence. God bless your soul.
August 9, 2017 at 12:27 pm
I too will miss Patricia.
August 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm
I never knew her name was Patricia…she used to come into our Hallmark store in Milbrae. Somtimes she wore gloves. I’m glad she had someone looking after her.
August 6, 2017 at 6:34 pm
Thank you for taking the time, care, and love you shared with Patricia. Thank you for sharing this story with all that would read it. I had met her on the train once and she was lovely–harmless. May she fly free!
August 6, 2017 at 6:42 pm
Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve seen Patricia for years and have always wondered what her story was. May she Rest In Peace.
August 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm
She was always upbeat and bright. I chatted with her while working at Alpha Beta in F.C. when she shopped there. RIP
August 6, 2017 at 9:40 pm
Did she consider herself “the least of these brothers and sisters” or is that just your opinion of her? Seems a bit rude and self-serving to say something like this about an acquaintance…
August 11, 2017 at 7:28 am
Good question! These were the words used by Jesus to describe how needy people are viewed by the world. They are viewed as “the least of these” but in fact, they are of great value to God.
August 6, 2017 at 10:19 pm
A beautiful memorial.
August 7, 2017 at 7:52 am
I’ve seen Patricia since my daughter was a baby. That’s 30 years ago. She would walk all over the peninsula. I would see her in San Mateo, Redwood City and San Carlos.
I’m happy to know she was loved and helped.
August 7, 2017 at 12:28 pm
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and stories of Patricia. I never knew her name but crossed paths with her frequently in San Carlos and was able to offer a helping hand on a few occasions. She was always friendly and cheerful. One of the blessings people like Patricia give back to a community, as one of those souls who struggle with demons and problems the rest of us don’t, was the gift of seeing her out and about so frequently. Her visibility was a blessing, not something to scorn or mock. She was just a nice kind person, worthy of a hello and a smile even though she was “different”. May she rest in peace.
August 9, 2017 at 12:42 pm
Thank you for your comment.
August 7, 2017 at 1:50 pm
I remember Patricia. Now she is truly at peace. No more “germ phobia”, that carries such terrible anxiety.
August 8, 2017 at 11:44 am
She to to always come thru my check out lane in Foster City. Alpha Beta, Lucky’s, Albertsons. She always handed and received money with a plastic bag over her hand. I never knew anything much about her. I seen her walking in Redwood City often. I was concerned about her safety and health. No matter what the weather conditions, it seemed toe that she dressed the same. She has crossed my mind many, many times since I retired and moved away. Thanks for letting us know. ❤
August 10, 2017 at 2:14 am
Thank you Mark, for shedding some light on who Patricia was. I didn’t even know her name until today. Another lesson in life on why judging a person from the outside is never OK. Even though I live on the East Coast now, I often thought of her and the image of her walking near El Camino in Belmont.
August 12, 2017 at 2:28 pm
When I worked at Stanford Hospital, she would frequently be seen in the hallways just walking around.
August 19, 2017 at 4:03 pm
Thank you for this post. I saw her on the bus many times, I never knew her name.
August 21, 2017 at 2:11 pm
Gen, you are welcome!
August 24, 2017 at 6:57 pm
RIP~For years she frequently would come to Lyon’s Restuant in San Carlos & my friends & I would see her walking everywhere. She never spoke to me, but when we made eye contact, I would nod. At times she would be angry if someone got close to her, now I know why. Thank you CPC for reaching out to her. I have attended this church & you are all so kind. God Bless Patricia & prayers to the family.
August 28, 2017 at 10:21 am
Sandi, thank you for your comment.
August 26, 2017 at 7:50 am
Thank you, Mark. She would have loved your words so much. As do I.
June 7, 2018 at 7:15 pm
Mark, I knew Pat from coming into the store I worked at. I used to love talking to her about the lottery and her daughter. I know its coming up on a year since she passed and I’ve been thinking about her alot. I’ve wondered, do you know what day she passed? Thank you for you kind words about Pat. I miss her.