I have a friend named Cathy. You probably have a friend named Cathy, too.
They’re probably the same woman.
Like any other run-of-the-mill amazing person, Cathy Walsh has many facets and your Cathy is probably different from my Cathy.
So let me tell you a little about my friend Cathy. I’d really like to hear about your friend Cathy, too.
My friend Cathy is a closet urban planner. Except if she suspects you, too, have an interest. Then she turns into a full-on A Pattern Language-pusher.
Want to complain about the newest candidate for ugliest building in Worcester? Cathy’s your woman! I wrote this blog post for her, and there are so many other posts yet to be written about senseless streetlight installations and other urban design items that drive us both batty.
My friend Cathy is also a celebrity. I mean, I’m a celebrity, too, but I’m the Naomi Watts to her Nicole Kidman — people are relatively sure they’ve seen me in something, but they’re more than willing to knock me down to get to the true star.
One day we popped down to the Crompton Collective and the paparazzi showed up:
I wish I could say this is unique, but just try going to an event like Arts Worcester’s Art on the Line with Cathy. I’ve done it — twice.
You can try to sit on a bench in a dark corner next to the coat rack — it doesn’t matter — people will just gravitate to wherever Cathy is.
And it’s not just the pink hair.
It’s that unique staccato laugh, the warm smile, and the major talent and generosity that combine to make the Cathy we all know.
I’m not sure how your Cathy is, but my Cathy’s a real chatterbox.
Last Friday, I was planning on picking her up to take her to an appointment and her husband Paul reminded her to plan for an extra hour to account for the talking.
(Though, to be fair, he could have been talking about my own chatterbox tendencies.)
When I’m with Cathy, we have conversations that last hours and hours and before we know it, six hours have passed in what seems like fifteen minutes.
Last week, she didn’t have the energy to talk much.
And that’s okay, too.
L. M. Montgomery, one of my favorite writers from my childhood, wrote, “If you can sit in silence with a person for half an hour and yet be entirely comfortable, you and that person can be friends.”
I don’t think Cathy and I had ever spent half an hour before where we weren’t chatting about parking structure designs or Worcester drivers (and the pedestrians who hate them) or how annoyingly dark Copper is or when Officer Al from the crimewatch meetings is retiring, but we have now.
And I can honestly say that now I know she and I can be friends.
When we visited Cathy tonight, there were so many flower arrangements that you could see them before even stepping into the room — and her bed was on the far side!
You can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep.
During my brief time at the hospital tonight, I saw quite a few of Cathy’s friends, from different backgrounds, with different interests, all united by a love for a friend who does so much for others in so many different ways, who uses her talent and vision to make our city a better place.
Cathy and I often talked about tilting at windmills. I have been so grateful to have been her Sancho Panza for the time I’ve known her. I suspect many others are as well.
I love you, Cathy and Paul.