In Memoriam: Dr. Patty Rigby - 1955-2018
When death comes, like the hungry bear in autumn; when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse to buy me, and snaps the purse shut; ...
When death comes, I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, and I look upon time as no more than an idea, and I consider eternity as another possibility.
and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular, and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, tending, as all music does, toward silence, and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder If I have made of my life something particular, and real...
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
(Mary Oliver - When Death Comes)
Dr. Patty Rigby, in her sixty-fourth year, entered that cottage of darkness in the early hours of October 7, 2018. She did not simply visit this world. She embraced it in both her personal and professional lives, and in doing so made a difference to the lives of so many.
Patty, who held both a master's and a doctorate in Occupational Therapy and Health Science, joined the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in 1994 at the University of Toronto where she worked until her retirement in 2017. Her research was critical in the development and advancement of one of the most widely recognized OT practice models, the Person-Environment-Occupation (PEO) model, which recognizes the importance of environment as a contributor to occupational performance and health. Patty also contributed to a ground-breaking shift in the OT lens by promoting the development of children's "play," uncovering the value in children's playfulness, which influenced the focus and development of treatment programs and evaluation tools. She was a much-loved and admired teacher in her field, and published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the course of her career. In June of this year Patty was awarded the 2018 Life Membership Award of Occupational Therapists in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the profession in research, practice and teaching.
Patty met her spouse, Dr. John Wedge, while both were working at the University Hospital in Saskatoon in the 1980's. In 1988, their careers took them to Toronto together where they have made their home ever since. Together with John, she travelled the world on missions both professional and personal.
Theirs was an enviable loving relationship, each respecting the professional demands of the other yet always protective of their time together, whether it was spent on the golf course, at their home in Savannah or their annual summer retreat to Cape Breton. Their time golfing on the May long weekend was the last carefree time they were able to share together.
For Patty, family was first. She played a central role in the lives of her nieces and nephews (who knew her lovingly as "AP"), instigating family gatherings that created memories and bonds that will resonate through their lives. She steadfastly maintained close contact with all of her siblings and every niece and nephew, where ever they happened to be. When her beloved brother Murray died, Patty stepped in to give his children, Jordan, Sierra, and Aidan the love and support they needed. Living as she did in Toronto, she was close to the family of Dr. Charlotte Wedge, her spouse, Tom and their children, Ian, Georgia, and Patrick Nelson, to whom she was like a second mother.
Patty was known within the circle of family and friends, fondly and reverentially, as "Patty Perfect". And perfect she was in so many, many ways; unfailingly cheerful, positive, generous, and loving. As the diplomatic middle child of five children, Patty was a unifying force all her life. She transformed for the better every room she entered and every person she encountered. In the words of Mary Oliver, Patty made of her life "something particular...and real."
Patty leaves behind family members in Saskatoon, Calgary, Toronto, Australia, and many places in British Columbia (including her father, Eric; siblings, Gwen Beaton, Janet Rigby and Jeffrey Rigby), too many to otherwise name here; and an array of friends, colleagues, and students, all of whom have very heavy hearts as they come to terms with their enormous loss. Many assisted Patty and John on Patty's final voyage, but special recognition and thanks must go to Dr. Charlotte Wedge whose tireless support, both medical and personal, so profoundly eased her journey.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Patty Rigby Scholarship in the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Toronto; or the Palliative Care Unit of Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto.
A private interment ceremony will be held in Toronto at a later date.
Obituary taken from The Globe and Mail