My Sister Doctor Pat
My Sister Doctor Pat
My second oldest sister, Pat or "Patty" as I fondly call her, has been one of my closest siblings. Although ten years older than Patty, I have grown to know her better as we have both aged. What I see in my sister are the best qualities of our late father and mother. In this article, I reflect on Patty as I have known her over the past years.
The Old Charlie Davis Farm
Early Years on the Farm: 1954-1956
Patty was born in the city of Milwaukee on February 27, 1954, two days before we moved out to a farm 30 miles away in Waukesha County. My sister spent her whole childhood growing up on a farm, and that is where she developed her love for animals and especially cats and cows.
I recall Patty getting very sick about a week after moving out to the old Charlie Davis farm about three miles outside of the village of Mukwonago. Fortunately, doctors did house calls then, and old Doctor Voellings immediately came out to the farm and treated my infant sister.
Two years later in August of 1956, Patty got lost in a cornfield next to our farmhouse. It seems like we looked and called her name for a very long time before finding my two-year-old sister.
Patty, My Brother, and Other Two Sisters
Life on Our Own Farm: 1957-1962
On March 1, 1957, we moved from the rented old Charlie Davis farm to a 117-acre farm which mom and dad had just purchased. The farm was a half mile north of the village of Honey Creek, and it featured a creek running across the pasture. During the six years before I went away to college in the fall of 1962, I still have the following clear memories of Patty.
First, around 1958, dad had to call out a vet to do surgery on one of our cows. As Patty came down into the barn to watch, I chased her back into the house. Starting at this early age, I sensed that my sister liked cows and maybe would be a vet someday.
Second, for Christmas Eve of 1960, mom and dad wanted me to dress up as Santa and bring gifts into the house. As I walked into our living room around 8:00 p.m carrying a big sack, you can just imagine the look of surprise and happiness on the faces of my youngest sister and brother. Patty who was almost seven at the time couldn't help but laugh knowing that her big brother was playing Santa.
Third, in the early 60s, I remember dad buying an old mare for Patty. She loved Polo and wanted to ride her all of the time.
During these years, my sister attended a one-room schoolhouse in Honey Creek. I believe that her first and second-grade teacher was Miss Malsh.
Remembering My Sister: 1963-1972
I didn't see Patty much on a daily basis when I was away at college and in the Navy during the years 1963-1972. What I do recall is that my sister attended a Catholic school in Waterford for two years and then went to public schools in Burlington after Honey Creek School closed around 1964 or 1965. While going to high school, the Honey Creek village minister's daughter was her closest friend, and Pat belonged to a ski club. Some of the things that I clearly remember are the following.
First, in January of 1965, Patty had an appendectomy. When I visited her in Burlington Hospital, I fainted for some strange reason.
Second, while I was in Japan with the Navy in 1969, I bought my youngest sister, Connie, a beautiful Japanese doll, but I think I got Patty only a pen and pencil set. When I presented the gifts in March of 1970 after returning home, Patti was so jealous of Connie receiving the doll.
Third, at the end of August of 1972, Pat went away to college at River Falls, Wisconsin, about six hours away. I remember going up to school with her on the bus for the first time, eating a pizza for dinner after arriving, and then sleeping in one of the school's dormitories overnight. I also recall giving Patty $200 for college expenses. In 1990 she repaid me that money when I really needed it.
Contact with My Sister: 1973-1981
I saw even less of my sister, Patty, after I left home in 1973 and lived in Taiwan until July of 1979. During these six years, Pat first attended River Falls College (1972-1976) and majored in pre-vet. For one semester, she went to Norway and lived and worked with a local veterinarian. When my sister didn't get into vet school after she applied for the first time, she retook chemistry classes and then earned a Masters in Dairy Science from the University of Wisconsin during the period 1977-1980.
When Patty wasn't busy with her studies at school, she would often go home on weekends and help dad and mom who were milking cows again. During this period, I highlight three things that I especially remember about my sister.
First, during Christmas of 1976 when I was living in Taiwan, Patty presented me with a John Denver cassette tape which was included in a package that Ma sent over. It had the hit, "Country Roads" which I played over and over again.
Second, in the summer of 1979, I had just returned for good from Taiwan and visited Pat who was either working or studying at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. We met near Babcock Hall and had some of the best ice cream I have ever had in my life.
Finally, in January of 1981, Patty came to visit me in Maryland shortly after I had moved out there to take a job with the federal government. She stayed over one weekend, and I remember visiting the Mall at Washington D.C. with Patty and my family.
The Vet School Years: 1982-1987
My sister Pat was admitted to the University of Minnesota School of Veterinarian Medicine in September of 1982 after having applied for admission three times. I know little about her vet school years since I was living and working in Maryland. What I do know is that Pat spent two weeks of summer break in 1985 between her third and fourth year of vet school interning with a veterinarian in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Fortunately, she was able to live with our Aunt Sissy during this period. Significant memories of the period 1982-1987 are as follow.
First, in August of 1984, Patty was bitten by my pet Afghan hound. I had just taken Foreigner by car from Maryland to mom and dad's farm near Honey Creek. They had agreed to take care of Foreigner while I was away in Taiwan for one year studying Chinese. As we sat in the living room, Pat reached to pet my dog, and he immediately bit her on the hand. I definitely remember taking Patty to Burlington Hospital for first aid treatment.
Second, In July of 1986, Doctor Pat and her vet school classmate visited me in Maryland after their graduation. They stayed overnight with my family, and we visited the Baltimore Inner Harbor in the evening.
Third, in February of 1987, I attended Doctor Pat's church wedding and reception just outside of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The highlight of the day was definitely my youngest sister Connie breaking her high heel shoe at the church and the ensuing reception at the home of Doctor Pat's new mother-in-law and father-in-law.
Patty, Donnie, and my Dad
Practicing as a Vet: 1987-2005
In the fall of 1986, Doctor Pat took a position as an associate in a veterinary clinic run by Dr. Bruski in Valders, Wisconsin. Although she was licensed to treat all animals, Pat spent most of her time going around to farms treating sick cows. When she wasn't busy with her vet practice, Doctor Pat would help her husband farm and milk about 40 cows on their family dairy farm. During the years 1990-2003, my parents and I would visit Patty and Donnie at least once a year. Three events are still in my memory for these years.
1. In 1991, I recall taking ma and dad to visit Patty and Donnie around the Fourth of July. On one pleasant summer evening, I took over Patty's grill and barbecued some steaks and hamburgers.
2. In 1999, I happened to be in Wisconsin around the end of November. Mom, dad, and I spent Thanksgiving Day with Patty and Donnie and we really enjoyed the delicious dinner which Patty cooked and served.
3. During August of 2005 when I visited for a week, Patty and I took ma to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee to check out the uncontrollable shaking of one of her hands and arms. As Pat and I sat with ma talking to a neurologist, the doctor confirmed that ma had Parkinson's disease.
Doctor Pat with Her Cows
Doctor Pat's Veterinarian Services: 2006 - Present
Around 2005 or 2006, Doctor Bruski retired and offered to sell Doctor Pat his vet service. My sister declined the offer and instead started her own veterinarian service. Doctor Pat didn't have her own clinic but instead was constantly on call to treat sick cattle in her county and surrounding counties. This was hard and demanding work which Pat did while helping my brother-in-law milk cows and do other farm chores when not on call. Due to the nature of her work, Doctor Pat has had shoulder and knee surgeries over the past ten to fifteen years.
From 2006 until 2011, I had next to no contact with Patti. During that time, I was adjusting to my new life teaching English in Thailand. Things changed after ma died in 2011, and I started calling Pat at least once a month. Pat in conjunction with my youngest sister, Connie, executed my parents' will following mom's death. My sister was very helpful in assisting me to receive an inheritance and also purchased the land which I inherited. Pat was also a great help in executing the will for all of my siblings.
Since 2012 and especially following my retirement from teaching in March of 2014, I have had more contact with my sister by visiting her farm near Manitowoc three times.
In October of 2012, while I was still employed as an English teacher in Bangkok, I spent five days helping Patty on her farm. I made my trip in October during my school's semester break. My sister especially appreciated my visit because I helped my brother-in-law with barn chores while she attended a two-day vet meeting in Madison.
In July of 2014, my brother-in-law had his first back laser surgery in Florida. For almost three weeks while Donnie was in the hospital and recovering back at home, I assisted my sister with dairy barn and farm chores.
Most recently, I spent almost six weeks during May and June of 2016 once again helping Patty on the farm. Donnie had his second back surgery which was invasive, and he was limited in his walking and lifting for almost a month.
Patty sold all of her dairy cattle in March 2018. When I last saw her in July 2018, she was still practicing vet work and had nine heifers to be bred for beef cattle. Patty also has four African geese and most recently started raising four calves. Farming and vet work will be in Patty's blood for the rest of her life.
Doctor Pat Exhibiting the Best Qualities of Mom and Dad
Over the years and most recently, I have realized that Patty has many of the good qualities of mom and dad.
The qualities which my sister reflects the most from dad are love for animals, hard work, perseverance, manual dexterity, and a quick hot temper. When my father was younger, he wanted to be a vet, so I know he was extremely happy and proud when Doctor Pat graduated from vet school. Just as dad worked hard farming and holding a second job for many years, Patti has been doing farm and vet work since 1987. My sister has also shown to be a "handyman" on the farm much like dad.
From my mother, Doctor Pat inherited the qualities of unconditional love for family members, kindness, and generosity. Doctor Pat has been extremely kind and generous to me when I have visited. After she inherited extra money for executing my parents' will, she used that money to help my oldest sister pay for her property taxes and to put in a new home furnace. Pat has also been very generous to my youngest sister and brother.
I certainly couldn't find a better sister. When I see or talk with Doctor Pat on the phone, it brings back fond memories of mom and dad.
© 2017 Paul Richard Kuehn