Packing Patti

India ink, dip pen, Doc Martin's (Click to enlarge)

Patti loved clothes. She sewed dresses for herself, majored in fashion, worked as a fashion director and photo stylist, and always made a statement. Her closets bulged with beautiful things and I have long dreaded the day I would open them and have to decide what to keep and what should be shared with the world. That day came last weekend. My mum joined me and we began to sort her clothes into three piles: those that would go to her favorite charity, those that were too worn out to pass on. and those that were quintessentially Patti and need to be saved for posterity.

I learned a lot about my wife in this process, seeing everything she owned, thinking through her process of buying and wearing things, seeing all of it laid out like that. My mum was surprised by how much black she owned, for instance. One always thinks of her as a blazing pink peacock. I went through her makeup, her toiletries, every nook and cranny. And even though there was so much, it was possible to go through it all, to feel her mind at work, to sense the years passing by, to remember how she flossed her teeth and put on her stockings. I had a few tough moments, but eventually, we got through the process unscathed , then loaded Mum’s station wagon with bags and bags of stuff.

I’m glad it will be distributed on the other end of Long Island. I don’t want to run into people in the street wearing Patti’s old clothes.

As for the Isse Miyake, Oilily and Todd Oldham treasures, I left them in her closet and will next box and bag them in some archival way. I may do further editing, but for now, I feel like I have stripped her down to the essence of her memory.

I felt a load lift when we were done. Another chapter has begun — it no longer seems that Patti is just away on a trip and will come in the door at any moment. We are resolved to the fact that she is gone, but never forgotten.

31 thoughts on “Packing Patti”

  1. Danny,
    That must have been so hard. I’m glad you feel lightened by it. Your seem to go through life with a grace and presence that I wish for in myself. I really admire you and your work. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and everything good.

    Dana in Brooklyn


  2. Thank you for posting your thoughts and processes, when you can.
    Grief ambushes. It doesnt play fair. There is no sense in it, yet there it is.
    Our 15yr old son “cut in line and went first” and then Tuesday still came. And Wednesday. and there was no rythmn.
    But joy comes and clothes get packked. Another month, then the years. Time doesnt heal all wounds, it just changes them.
    Now grandchildren bring a kiss of life and there is laughter…. and Thursday is coming.
    Hugs and prayers,
    keep sharing! Diana


  3. Have done this for husband, brother, mum and dad. Have kept some items for each which are just too much “them” and boxed to give to children and grandchildren. I know how hard you found it – but as you say, you know longer think of them as just being away on a long holiday.
    Thankyou for all your posts which I value very much.


  4. I never had to do this for anyone before and I am grateful. I imagined doing it when I read yours and it reminded me of my Dad. I resurrected gifts of his after he died, I gardened well into the night remembering all the latin names for plants and the way he pronounced them. I now draw a lot and think of my Dad who was a great artist.He is with me all the time even when I am not thinking of him. It has been a long time and I enjoy the times I think of him, he gave me so much without knowing it. It seems Patti did the smae for you and Jack. I hope it will give you some comfort in time but it is early days yet


  5. It must be such a tremendously monumental task to remove the physical remnants of your late beloved wife but as all the great teachers remind us, we are spiritual beings in a material world. Stuff is just stuff, and Patti’s essence and love will be with you & Jack forever. May you have a peaceful holiday.


  6. your work and your spirit continues to inspire me. I recently gave my step mother one of your books and she has started drawing for the first time. She called me the other day after drawing her medicine cabinet and told me how for the hour she was drawing how her troubles faded away and how her perspective changed for the better. Art heals for sure and drawing and especially seeing the beauty in the every day is a gift I am thankful for.


  7. Thank you for continuing to share your very personal experience. You are inspiring in so many ways and I hope in some small way it helps to share your journey here with us.

    Beaming some peace across the Sound from Connecticut.



  8. Dear Danny,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now (years if I make the tally), and am continually struck by your wonderful entries. Your sketches are so beautiful, bring me such color and joy.

    Thank you!


  9. Bought your book, The Creative License, years ago at a conference and just searched out your site tonight.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You will be in my prayers for comfort and continue healing.


  10. Hi Danny,

    I was wandering what are doing those days because I haven’t heard from you long time now…I had a “feed” ….…that kept me updated. It stopped sending me notification on October 20 when I’ve got the last one. Now I went on your web site and find out that you have many blogs posted after that day…so I’m happy now to “find” you again!!!! I have a lot to read (is like I found a lot of candies that I was saving for later…!!! and forget where I put them…:0)



  11. Such a beautiful blog post. I have been following your blog for some months now, but have shied away from posting a comment before now. I too have things in this house I have to pack into boxes, not because my husband died, but because he left me and our 15 year old daughter earlier this year. Seeing his things around the house, in drawers and closets just makes the days harder. Inspired by your post I am going to start packing it into boxed, at least I don’t have to sort though it, and put it in the garage ready for when he wants to come by to collect it. Beverley


  12. My guess is the holiday season might not be the best one ever this year for you. Hopefully you may draw some comfort from the knowledge that there are many of us out there who have read your books and visited your blog and seen/received your art in our hearts, and we are all sending your our heartfelt wishes for peace in your own heart.


  13. I had your book for Christmas and was thoroughly involved in it until I finished it last night. Tonight I thought I’d look you up online. I can’t believe Patti died. It has really affected me and I only met her last week. Goodness knows how you deal with it. Sending some love from the UK.x


  14. I was wondering how you were doing. It”s very tough to go through loved one’s belongings once they’ve died, and I had to do both with my parents. It’s very hard. I can’t even imagine doing it for my lover.


  15. Hi Danny,

    I searched for your Web site after just finishing your book. I loved your honest voice, your honest drawings. You are a beautiful man it seems, from how you come through from your pages. Your’s is a book I will read and look through many times. Thank you. I needed it.

    There is so much to read here. I’m sorry for your loss.


  16. Never get bored of visiting your site danny, browsing your journals, reading and rereading your blog. Been rereading “An Illustrated Life” and think its amazing that so many of the artists in that book attribute their journal keeping to you. Hope you know how much we all appreciate what you’ve given us and hope life is treating you and Jack well right now.


  17. Danny – as usual I’m “late to the party” and just read that your dear Patti is gone – I’m so very sorry for your loss and wish that I had had a chance to meet her – but felt like I knew her thru your words – she lives on thru you and Jack – Jane LaFazio -my teacher – introduced me to you and your world – and from reading your story thru your books and blog and website – my world changed forever – you helped me be able to embrace the idea that creating art has nothing to do with my age – but more to do with your heart – thank you for that – and again sorry for your loss and may Patti’s memory always be a blessing and may she R.I.P. – Reva (Los Angeles)


  18. Patti is always a part of my week… thank you for posting this,for sharing your life…although it took me a long time to dare to look.
    I think of you and Jack often,hope you are doing well and send smiles your way.


  19. I enjoyed reading about your life experience of saying good by to Patti in the event of clearing the clothes closet. I suppose, learning to live with her gone. Brenda and I have lost some dear ones in the past two years including her sister Julie. It is so strange, the permanence of it, there remains this lingering sense that they will call on the phone or stop by but of course they wont but some where in my brain that reality never really sinks all the way down.


  20. I enjoy your site. I love your work. It is refreshing and inspiring to me. I am sorry for your loss and hope you are well.


  21. Danny, This is the first time I’ve visited your blog and found this post. I have to tell you it made me cry and was hard to read because it made me relive a similar time. I did the same with my sister when my mom passed. Some things got donated, some we took turns picking for ourselves. Some things that just “Spoke MOM” I had to keep like her warm fuzzy bathrobe that I remember hugging her in so many times and an old tank top tee shirt that as old and mundane as it was, just said mom to me for some reason. It’s still tucked in a box under my bed.

    I’m glad you have many friends here to encourage you! and sorry you have to go through this.
    On a happier note, I just joined the “Everyday Matters” group (finally!) and hope to upload more of my journal pages. Love yours!
    hugs to you!


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