SPOTLIGHT: The Third of Five by Dan Provost


Kids learn to sing
holiday carols early
in life.

They hear parents’ croon
the classics while
cooking Christmas

Dad carving the turkey for the family.

Not Patty, she was sadly
exiled from any

notes coming out of her heart.
Born with a terrible affliction
that I never understood.

–My being ached every time
I saw Ma carrying her up the stairs.

Long, bony legs lagged, crumpled in a fetal,
as Patty got older.

Nothing to say…
Nothing to do…
Wince in sorrow…

For 36 long, painful, agonizing years.


Ma was a religious woman.

Devoted catholic who never
missed an opportunity to show
her love for God.

The priest would smile as he
offered the eucharist.

Her head bowed in prayer.

She obediently swallowed the bread & wine, giving the sign of the cross.

Walking back to her pew.
Yes, two children—one on the way.

December 19th, 1960, happened.
Patricia Ann Provost was born.
But there were problems with the birth.

Dr. Dashef

I do not know what the exact words
were when Dr. Dashef informed my
parents that something was wrong with
their daughter.

Maybe not enough oxygen to the brain.
Or some neurological phenomenon.

Arthur and Alice did understand that
“Patty” was unlikely to walk or talk—

She would have to be fed through a tube in her stomach.

The most damaging blow of all was, that she probably
would not live past thirteen.
“You have the option to put her in a
home that specializes in these cases.”

I’m sure the good doctor offered Mom and Pop this option.

Their answer was “no.”

“We are going to keep her…” Art & Gibby said.

“We will take care of our daughter.”

Reality for Mother

Mom could not search for
meaning from a late 50’s or
early 60’s family sitcom.

Accepting a fate that Barbara Billingsley, June Lockhart,
or Jane Wyatt would never have to confront.

She, unassumingly, forged her passion through
Patty’s existence.

From birth until finality.


The goad of mental anguish,
could it be answered?

Could “it” be controlled by two young parents,
whose goal of having healthy, cheerful children—was,
suddenly—a fight to keep their daughter alive?

Responsible for three kids at the time.
One would have to be “raised” til death.

Ma and Pop continued this world of parentage with one
eye on Patty.

Another on giving her
siblings a good home.


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