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  Barb Branneky Patrick

Wow, 40 year reunion, bios, memorials-yeah, its one of those times that makes you have to stop and think about..well.your life.

For me, this whole last year or so has been about reviewing, re-envisioning, and reinventing my life. Id spent from 1970-2006 raising 5 children and the nest was now empty. Last September I sold the home where Id raised my 3 teenage girls by myself for the last 10 years. I had a lot of letting go to do recently-kids, gardens, house, "stuff." But now I truly see that I had to let go of the past and create that terrifying emptiness, so that I would have the space and freedom to grow a new life.

I made a one year plan that is ending around the time of our 40th.. In retrospect, it almost looks like I knew what I was doing. I determined that I would not buy a house for a year, since I had no idea where I wanted to live. I had lived in Syracuse, NY since 1967. Little did I know that when I chose Syracuse University, I was picking where Id live for the next 40 years of my life. Id say that Ive had enough of the frozen snow belt!

So in the past year, I mooched off of my oldest daughter in Syracuse for 2 months, rented a place in the Villages, Florida, for January, and then stayed with my parents, in Orlando, for 2 months. I drove across the country, alone, to mooch off of my son in Las Vegas for a month. I drove to Esalen in Big Sur for 2 workshops, and experienced a few of the hippie days I had missed when I had my first baby at 20. After visiting one daughter in LA and one at Cal Berkeley, I hit Yosemite and stayed in a tent. On my way out of California, I was feeling sad. I told myself that California was the most beautiful state of all, but woefully, I could never afford to live there.

I proceeded to drive back across the country alone for my twins college graduations- Paris, from Emerson in Boston (a film major) and Chardonnay, from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence (Illustration.) Somewhere along the way, as I drove back across the US, an internet/phone romance began to blossom with a beautiful man from California. Now, after putting my life on hold for the last 10 years, to raise my second batch of kids, I am buying a house with him in Hemet, CA and Im moving in October. My kids think Im crazy. My parents are worried. But after the shock of suddenly seeing that so many classmates have died, and having a cancer scare of my own this spring-Im goin for it and now! Ive only known him since April, hes fabulous, and hes coming to the reunion with me!

Prior to my "Gap Year" of transition, and the 10 years Ive been divorced, I had 2 marriages and 2 very different lives. One was as "The Political Wife." I sold insurance, fabric, art and Tupperware out of my home so I could be with my children and even became a Tupperware manager with a Tupperware car (no it wasnt plastic.) I campaigned for my husband as he ran for the Board of Education, Common Council, and eventually Congress (twice for each office.) I tried to hold the family and marriage together, but too much was too wrong and it takes 2 people. This union produced Jodi and John, who each have given me 2 lovely grandsons. Jodi has a PHD from Cambridge University in England and is doing research at Upstate Medical Center. John is a bartender at the Wynn Resort in Vegas.

The second life was my "Socialite Marriage," where I served on several boards, chaired many benefits in my home , started two foundations, lived in a mansion, had a summer house, and went on fabulous vacations. I had lots of "things," but none of the kindness and respect I needed to survive, so I walked away from all that and for the last 10 years I have stayed single to concentrate on raising my children. My second batch of kids came from this marriage-twins, Chardonnay and Paris, and my baby, Alexandria. They hate it when I say "second batch." "What are we.cookies?"

I have no regrets. Because of those failed relationships, I have 5 wonderful children. I see our classmates that have been together since high school, and are still married and I am awestruck. God bless you- it seems that he already has!

I know that I am totally blessed! I am thrilled at the prospect of a whole new life out West with my fabulous man. I hope to try desert gardening, play lots of tennis and golf, do some more watercolor painting, but mostly- I want to have a phenomenal love life and try to write the "great American novel" for women. If it ever gets published, it will be honest and spicy and you can say that you knew me when Doris and I were called the "Frigidaires"!

Family Pix:

Barb Branneky Patrick and David Patrick:

Go see another Barb Branneky photo-"Tangy" my '65 Mustang-for gearheads.

695 Wamblee Lane, San Jacinto, CA 92582, 315-440-9658,, Barb's page.