Out of the blue one of our readers, Louise Gardner, contacted us about her amazing sister, Tricia Patterson, with this simple email:
My sister is 18 months younger than I am. She is a paraplegic with pulmonary fibrosis. She is my hero who has always lived each day as if it were her last. She loves life, people and above all God. Her life has been an amazing journey. She’s pretty cool. Let me know if you’re interested in knowing more about my sister 🙂
Tricia Patterson is a Survivor
“It came to light when Tricia was an adult that she had survived being molested as a child. Her focus has been having empathy for her abuser. She rose above being teased as a child for being hyperactive and having learning disabilities. Overcoming the ridicule has served her in so many ways. One being that she is such an advocate for the underdog!” Louise explains.
“When she was 42 years old, she fell off a patio deck and severed her spine. After months in the hospital and rehab, when she finished her therapy… she continued to remark that God has been so good to her.”
“As a paraplegic, she is hell on wheels. Each week, she volunteers at a hospital and visits a retirement center where she plays bridge and brings cheer with her incredible sense of humor. Her greatest joy is babysitting her grandchildren ages five, three and two.”
Tricia has been featured on TV news programs, as seen above, and has also been featured in her own television series on PBS called “Chick In A Chair.”
A New Diagnosis
Louise continued, “When we have our weekly lunches, we talk about our children and grandchildren. And, inevitably, we end up sharing our deeper thoughts, hopes and fears.”
“For the last year or so, when we have talked, Tricia has stated that she has been tired. My first thought was that it was no wonder because she wakes up early and goes all day long. But, she said it was a different kind of tired.”
“After much coaxing from her children, she went to the doctor and was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. The doctors could not determine how long she has had it or exactly how much longer she has to live. The average life expectancy is 2-6 years.”
Gratitude Guides Her
“Her son in law was with her one day when she spoke her truth about being so happy about leaving her broken body behind. He said he was glad if she was glad … but that he, his wife and the grandchildren are sad because they will miss her dearly.”
“In typical Tricia fashion, she reminded him of the other grandparents, family and friends that the grandchildren would continue to have in their lives. He stopped her, took her hand, and said, but there will be no one here to teach them how to forgive others.”
RELATED: One of the best things in the world is the knowledge that you are not alone— knowing that someone like you has been able to get through challenges and achieve a greater good. Brennan’s Discovering Abilities Library
Tricia Patterson’s superpower is her ability to forgive others.
Tricia Patterson with her son, Chase Hurlimann.
Lousie asked her sister our interview questions and then shared Tricia’s answers with our insidewink team.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day begins early… she gets in her golf cart around 7 am and takes her grandchildren for a ride around their gated community, her daughter lives down the street.
Before the pandemic she would then head to St. Joes where she worked as a patient advocate. Every afternoon she then went to Lenbrook and taught/played bridge with the residents. Her motto is early to bed early to ride!
What is your greatest strength?
Tricia told me that her greatest strength is her unconditional love for others.
Where do you volunteer?
Initially right after the accident Tricia was a speaker for United Way and helped raise millions of dollars. Before COVID-19 she was a volunteer at St. Joseph’s Hospital here in Atlanta as well as Lenbrook Retirement Residence.
What do you enjoy most about your volunteer work?
What she enjoys most is people! Doing volunteer work, Tricia stated, makes her feel blessed in so many ways. Being a patient at Shepherds Spinal Center gave her a true empathy for people suffering.
RELATED: You’ve seen her… I promise you have… she’s done more that 200 TV shows and movies and she’s proud to be Heifer International’s number one volunteer fundraiser.
Tricia’s greatest joy is spending time with her three grandchildren.
Tricia Patterson with her grandchildren: Everett (age 3), Renner (age 1), Sadie (age 5)
What do you like best about being a grandmother?
What she likes best about being a grandmother is spending time with them as she knows she only has a limited time left to do so. She is making wonderful memories.
How does your faith help guide you?
Tricia’s faith is what shapes her daily decision making. It is also what motivates her.
What is your greatest achievement/what are you most proud of?
She is most proud of her children who have become wonderful adults. Her daughter is a guidance counselor at a school for children with learning disabilities and her son is a Middle school English teacher.
What are you reading?
She reads Readers Digest from cover to cover and anything Joyce Meyers writes.
What’s on your playlist?
She listens to Gregorian chanting music.
Pie, Cake or Ice Cream?
Tricia Patterson’s sister Louise says,
“Tricia knows that God gives each person a certain life. She continues to thank God for the wonderful life He has given her. She said she wouldn’t trade places with anyone else in the world.”
Thank you Tricia for your spirit, your passion and your love.
Your attitude and strength are an inspiration!
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I enjoyed very much reading this tribute to my excellent friend, Tricia. I am so happy that you and Louise have chosen to share her incredible life journey with others. Tricia inspires me every day. I have never heard her complain or show bitterness despite the many major challenges that she has faced during her life. Her faith and Love for God is evident in her words and in her actions daily. She trusts Him implicitly, and lives her life with a spirit of gratitude. She also has a wonderful sense of humor, great loyalty to her friends, a spirit of generosity and a most compassionate heart. Knowing Tricia has been a beautiful blessing in my life.
You are so blessed to have such an amazing friend in your life…she’s so inspiring!