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Patricia Bradley

27th March 1936- 28th March 2020

When someone close to you dies, the most common word you hear said begins with G. That word is grief. However, when my aunt Patricia passed away last Saturday morning another word beginning with G was at the forefront of my mind. That word is gratitude.

Patricia was the oldest of the seven Bradley children being born in Edinburgh to my Irish Grandfather Patrick Bradley & Lithuanian Grandmother Anastasia Kursvietaite on the 27th March 1936. She was one of the war generation, with my grandfather headed to war in 1941. It must have been unimaginable experience for a little girl. The family moved back to Mossend to be nearer grandparents. I remember her stories of seeing the horizon light up over Mossend as the bombs fell over Glasgow.

Love of God and service to others was the hallmark of her 84 years.

Early in her adult life after a brief time as a nurse she heard a calling to the religious life and entered the Irish Sisters of Charity in Dublin, taking the name Sister Mary Pauline. Once there before taking her final vows she quickly realised her true calling was in the Missions and not in the Convent. This led her to leave the convent and work as a missionary nurse in Africa for many years during the 1960s.

Her experiences there were more than enough for one lifetime. She often spoke about her great love for the African people, the tropical landscapes she visited which can be seen in the treasure trove of photos she left, how she learned to drive for the first time in Africa (this explained a lot about her skills in later life!) her harrowing experiences hiding in a cupboard as soldiers raided their nursery during the Biafran War. One story she loved to retell Antoinette and I was the day she opened her cupboard and was bit by a scorpion. She told me all these tales growing up and I treasure those moments to this day. She suffered a lot in Africa during the conflict and never fully spoke about what fully happened to her there, she weighed 6 stone.

Patricia came home from African and eventually went on to become a midwife and Health visitor locally, delivering thousands of babies and be the first to welcome them to the world. Many have remarked Patricia was the midwife who delivered them. It is a sad irony that due to the nature of the coronavirus which eventually took her life, no-one bar one nurse was with her at her time of leaving this world.

Patricia would never marry and stayed at home with my Granny and her sister Tessie and latterly on her own at 10 Blackwoods Crescent, the Bradley family Home.

She was a much loved, daughter, sister, aunt, great aunt, cousin and neighbour.

With her passing, I’ve lost one of my best friends. She was someone I could turn to for advice, consolation, we cried together and we laughed together. Patricia also insisted on buying me my first 4K camera to help start what would eventually become Sancta Familia Media.

Over the years I helped her with gardening, she loved nothing more than investing in the latest gardening equipment. Her shed which had these costly tools had more security than Buckingham palace.

She was game for anything and even ended up breaking her back in an accident playing football with me, I’ll never forget that day! In her true strength of character, she bounced back a few weeks later but wisely she retired from the garden football.

When you were sick in bed and she was caring for you, the old nurse in Patricia came out as she force fed you oranges and barked at you to drink lots of water as it was good for you! Once she was satisfied that we were settled she’d then head outside to light up her beloved cigarettes without a hint of irony.

Patricia had many friends and loved nothing more than the Holy Family Rambling club, a whisky, hearty fried Lithuanian food, watching Celtic, good books and watching TV.

As her dementia began to take away the ability to enjoy the things she loved, I still always admired her humour and strength and her strong sense of will and independence. She never lost her dignity and compassion as a person throughout her illness.

In the last 2 years as her dementia worsened, Patricia would walk the corridors of Highgate home (she never sat down). She said her Rosary out loud and expressed concern for the “babies” as her mind took her back to days of midwifery. She prayed and cared for others to the end. What dementia took from her brain it never diminished her soul.

Patricia contracted Coronavirus last week and we weren’t certain she would make it or not. She was always as strong as an ox. But sadly, it was her time to go.

The nurse with her at death although not Catholic had the interior sense of the moment and placed Rosaries in her hand and a Card of St Therese of Lisieux. St Therese famously said “I am not dying, I am entering into Life.” For Patricia death was a gift, it was a rebirth, a freedom from the slavery of a cruel disease.

As she walked the corridors day and night of Highgate she would often cry out, “God, where are you?” As Catholics, we believe no-one dies alone. I am quite certain at that sunny dawn on Saturday morning past, Our Lord came to Patricia and gently said to her, Patricia “I am here, I’ve come to take you home.”

For that reason, I am grateful. Until we meet again in the New and Eternal Jerusalem.

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