I do not specifically recall
my first meeting with Patrick Cassidy.
But when I arrived in Belleville in 1980
as a young doctor in training,
Patrick and his family had already been here
for a number of years.
Patrick had briefly been a GP in Ireland
before he trained in Pathology,
and came to Canada.
Our first meeting probably occurred
in his office at the Belleville hospital.
From time to time I would have occasion to go there
to make some inquiry or other.
I think that the quality about Patrick
that I most remember
is how uniformly friendly and welcoming he was.
Whenever we met….
whether it was in his office
as I interrupted him
as he worked at his microscope
or equally, as time went on,
if I met him in the hallway of the hospital
or out on the street somewhere,
or at his home.
His manner was always the same.
He was a friendly and warm individual
who always had time to stop to talk
and to share a story.
Patrick, of course,
had a great sense of humour.
He especially loved to tell a story
that had a funny side to it,
although he always did so
in a kindly way, with a generous spirit,
and never at anyone’s expense.
On one occasion he told me
the story of two elderly Irish women
who were overheard having a conversation
after they had been in the audience
at a case that was being heard
in an Irish Coroner’s Court.
One of the women noted
that one of the presiding officers in the Court
had been identified as a “pathologist”,
and she asked her companion
just “what is a pathologist?”
The other woman replied confidingly-
“Oh, a Pathologist is a doctor
who specializes in diseases of the dead!”
Being one himself,
Patrick thought this was a good description.
Patrick was a good Catholic-
although he did hasten
to reassure me on one occasion
that some of his best friends were Protestant.
This reminds me of another of Patrick’s stories,
which had to do with a conversation that occurred
between a Cardinal and a Parishioner
on the occasion of a meeting that was held
as the Vatican was revising
the teachings of the Church
on the subject of Heaven….and Hell.
The Parishioner inquired
“Now tell me Cardinal,
is there really such a place as Hell?”
The Cardinal thought for a moment,
and then replied,
“Well, (he said), I really couldn’t say,
But I will tell you one thing, and that is
that if there isn’t ..there are a lot of people
who are going to be very disappointed!”
(I got the impression
that Patrick’s obvious delight
in telling that story,
was just slightly wicked.)
In the last few months of Patrick’s life
I had the privilege of visiting him regularly
in his comfortable home.
He was very determined to keep going
against what he of all people surely knew
were impossible odds,
With the wonderful help of his family
he did just that.
He kept hoping (and praying) for better health.
But as the week’s went by
it became apparent
that he was losing the battle.
However through all of this time
Patrick never complained about his lot,
and he never lost his good humour
or his considerate manner and bearing.
Typically at these visits,
often in the company of his wife,
and Toby, his faithful Jack Russell terrier,
we would first discuss Patrick’s concerns.
Then, having dealt with those,
we would often lapse
into a discussion of Irish history.
It was apparent that Patrick
had a deep knowledge
of the history of his Country.
About one month prior to his passing
Patrick loaned me a copy of a speech
that had been given by Mr. Berty Ahern,
the President of the Irish Republic,
in the British House of Parliament,
a speech which was delivered
…only 6 weeks ago now.
This was an historic event.
It was the first time
in the often tragic history of the two Islands.
that an Irish President
had ever spoken ….in the British House.
The event had only occurred …
because of the progress
that has lately been made ….in the peace process
between the two Countries.
This event was obviously a source
of great satisfaction and contentment ..to Patrick.
In fact he was quite insistent
that I return the speech to him
I know that I for one,
like all of you here today,
am going to miss this kind man
who had so much personality…and character…
and humour…and gentility.
I know that I am a better person
For having known Patrick.
I believe that Patrick will Rest in Peace.