NEIGHBORS PAT GITTENS, left and Pat Schaub sit in Schaub’s Ripon home, laughing together — as they’ve done for decades, both with and without their spouses.      	   Ian Stepleton photo
NEIGHBORS PAT GITTENS, left and Pat Schaub sit in Schaub’s Ripon home, laughing together — as they’ve done for decades, both with and without their spouses. Ian Stepleton photo

     Pat and Pat sit near each other in Pat Schaub’s living room, laughing the way only old friends can laugh.

     “We had jokes over the years on each other,” Pat Gittens said.

     ... The pie story, for instance.

     As a bidding option at a fund-raiser one year, Pat Schaub had offered to make a dessert a month.

     “Dave said ... ‘Who would ever bid for your dessert? I sure wouldn’t,’” Pat Schaub said of Gittens’ husband. “I said, ‘If you ever did, I’d make a pie and guess where you’d get it!’”

     Sure enough, through a little trickery, Dave Gittens made sure he was the lucky recipient.

     Pat Schaub knew what she had to do ... “I put a newspaper over the pie and said, ‘Did you see this terrible article?’ I’m looking at my husband and he’s going, ‘Do it! Do it!’”

     Pat Schaub pulled back the paper, shoved the pie in his face, and sprinted.

     “I ran down the hill; he ran after me. I ran into the house; he followed me in. I hid in the bathroom,” she said, laughing hysterically.

     The couples, Pat and Dave Gittens, and Pat and Cal Schaub, shared so many laughs together over the years.

    But they didn’t compare to the heartache, and the helping hand, the Pats shared later with each other.

     THROUGH SOME CRUEL twist of fate, each husband received matching cancer diagnoses in 2002: Cal in September, Dave on Thanksgiving Day.

     And, within a year, both were gone.

     But Pat and Pat remained.

     The cumulative grief could have been crippling for the dear friends.

     Yet together, they found a way through. ...

     To read the entire column, see the April 6, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.