Uncle Pat & Aunt Bobbie
This weekend my family traveled to lower NY to pay our respects to my Uncle Patrick. Pat was married to my dad’s sister Bobbie (also my godmother) for over 50 years. When I was being treated for scleroderma as a youngster, my dad and I stayed with them once a month because my pediatric rheumatologist was located in nearby White Plains. When we visited, they always prepared spaghetti and meatballs with salad and Italian bread for dinner. During that time, they had three big dogs whom I loved: Thumper, Rocky, and Willy. Pat battled Parkinson’s late in life, and at the start of the pandemic succumbed to the disease. In addition to Bobbie, he leaves behind two daughters and and a son, five grandchildren, his brothers Paul and James, two brothers-in-law, five nieces and nephews, five grand-nieces and nephews, and many others. He was a NYC cop and firefighter, and early in life served as part of the US Naval Reserves.
On Saturday morning, we attended a funeral service in his honor. We then had a family lunch at Four Brothers in Mahopac, and paid our respects at his gravesite in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne. Many fond memories were shared of Pat, from childhood antics with his siblings, to driving his Corvette with Bobbie before they were married, to taking the grandkids on fishing trips and car rides with his ever present cigar, and taking his father-in-law, brother-in-law, and others out on various walks into the woods up in Shushan, NY (occasionally ending in him leaving them to bravely find their own way back to the family home).
Many of us hadn't seen each other in decades, so we took a group photo together before departing.
The night before Pat's service, my parents and I stayed at The Abbey Inn in Peekskill. This site has historical significance in the Dunscombe family. My great grand-aunt Margaret was a nun (Sister Mary Michael) and spent much of her life at the St. Mary’s Convent, which is set at the top of a Fort Hill overlooking the Hudson River and Bear Mountain. My dad traveled to the convent to meet her as a little boy in the 1950s. The community has since relocated, and the former site of the convent has been acquired and converted to a hotel. It was very meaningful to stay there and walk the same halls as one of my ancestors.
From my dad:
When I was very young, perhaps three or four, our family drove up to the Peekskill, New York area to visit my Grandaunt Margaret. Margaret was the sister of my Dad’s father Cecil, and was an Episcopal nun at St. Mary’s Convent whose religious name was Sister Mary Michael. At this time Margaret would have been about seventy-two years old. I remember being somewhat frightened of her because she wore the full black and white habit including head gear that looked like it had wings. I still have a nice little note she wrote to me some years later recalling the visit which included a picnic. Margaret died in 1973 at age eighty-seven after a remarkable life that included time as a missionary in the Philippines and some time as a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II. She also wrote and illustrated an unpublished novel based in the Philippines which I have the manuscript for.
The "Cornerstone Room" (former sanctuary)
Dusk on the grounds
The Highlands Ballroom (former convent chapel) and inn details
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based in Mansfield, MA.