My Best Friend

Olga S. Hardman

Patricia Sharpe Minehart 
(1927 - 1996)

Although she wasn't a blood relative, I considered Patty Minehart my sister.  We first met in 1943, as sophomores at Victory 
High School.   From the very beginning, we were soul mates.  There was always something between us that let one friend know when the other was in need.  When she had a stroke in 1996, I was devastated.  When they discovered a terminal malignancy three days later, I though my own life was ending.

 During her hospital stay, her family members and I would take turns sitting at her bedside.  One Monday, I promised I would get there at two o'clock the next day to relieve her daughter Barbara. But on Tuesday morning, after I had taken a shower and dressed, I started to feel extremely uneasy.  I walked aimlessly around my house and couldn't seem to focus on doing any one thing.  Then at eleven o'clock, I suddenly got a strong urge to leave for the hospital.

When I got to the oncology floor, Patty's older sister, Thurza, was sitting in the waitingroom.  When she saw me, she jumped up and said, "Oh, they called you!" 
I replied, "No, they didn't.  She did."
"But she's too weak to dial your number," Thurza said.
"Oh, she didn't call on the telephone," I told her.  Thurza looked puzzled.  Together, we walked down to Patty's room.
 Later that afternoon, Becky, Patty's youngest sister, said to me, "I tried to leave her bedside this morning to call you, but around eleven o'clock, Patty said, 'Never mind.  I've taken care of it.'"  As always, I had gotten Patty's message.

(This brief, true story about my friend, Patty, appears in a hard-cover anthology, edited and introduced by Paul Auster and entitled, I Thought My Father Was God.  The story appears on page 290 and the book is published by Henry Holt, copyright 2001.  Out of 4,000 submissions, this story was one of 180 chosen for publication in the National Story Project.  I'm sure my friend would be as delighted as I am to have "our" story told.) 

© 1999 Olga S. Hardman

On March 26, 1996, I delivered the following eulogy for my best friend, Patty.


We first met 53 years ago as sophomores at Victory High School.  From the very beginning we were soul-mates and have remained so.  I do not expect this relationship to end now.  Patty and I often discussed our philosophical and theological beliefs and I can assure you that she believed strongly in the Communion of Saints, as I do.  I have no doubt, that as a member of the Saints Triumphant, she will continue to be the source of strength to me, her family, and all her friends, that she has always been.

I never knew anyone with a stronger faith than Patty had.  Whenever she performed feats which I considered practically miraculous, I would say to her, "How did you do that?"  Her reply was invariably, "Oh, I just said, "Lord, please help me with this" and then I started.  She never doubted that she would receive the required grace.  And she was never disappointed.   We all know that "Faith can move mountains."  Everyone here who knew her has had many opportunities to watch Patty move mountains through her strong and abiding faith.

We can all attest to the fact that she really loved life and everyone whose life hers touched.  When her husband, Bob, and I were commiserating over a particularly gloomy day in her hospital room, she looked directly at both of us and said, "Every day is a good day!"

Her daily prayer each morning was a petition that her Heavenly Father allow her to help someone in need that day.  We all know how many times that prayer was graciously answered, because everyone here knows how many times she gave sustenance to her fellowman throughout her life.

On page 208 in my hymn book, the words "Pat's funeral" are penciled in at the top of the page.  That is because 25 years ago when Patty and I were playing and singing favorite songs and hymns, she said to me, "Mark that one.  I want you to sing that one at my funeral."  Since my voice is now 25 years older, I shall beg Pat's indulgence and recite the text of this hymn, which so appropriately describes my best friend.

"Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.

When I was hungry, you gave me to eat;
When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.
Now enter into the home of My Father.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.

When I was homeless, you opened your door;
When I was naked, you gave me your coat.
Now enter into the home of My Father.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.

When I was weary, you helped me find rest.
When I was anxious, you calmed all my fears.
Now enter into the home of My Father.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."

Now that Patty accepts the gracious invitation to enter the home of her Heavenly Father, it seems to me the greatest gift we give to honor her memory, is to practice her own life style.  We must give all we can to the least of our brothers and love, honor, and respect each life that our own touches, just as she taught us.

 Go in peace, my friend, to be with your God.

(Words and music to Whatsoever You Do by W.F. Jabusch, found in People's Mass Book and published by World Library Publications, Inc.)