Joy no matter what. A blog by Deanne Nelson.

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Patricia’s Heart….A Tribute to Patricia Navarino-Winters December 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 10:32 pm

Beautiful PatriciaMay all who know and love Patricia find peace and joy in the gift of her life.

It was in the early 1980’s/ late 1970’s when I had the gift of befriending Patricia. We were about nine years old at the time and I recall being so excited to have found a neighborhood friend to ‘hang out’ with. Patricia lived just one street away on Pasadena Ln in Scottsdale, AZ. We would take the short walk across 86th Street back and forth to each others’ homes almost every day. We indeed spent much time together during those school aged and middle school years, and many memories fill my heart today as I reflect on her life. ..

Patricia always had a tender and sweet spirit. She was respectful to her mother and grandmother, whom she called ‘Oma.’ Her bedroom was kept and in order, while mine was typically a mess.  She was a far better influence on me than I was on her! And so it was in my room where we would usually crank up some tunes on the ‘boom box!’ (who remembers those?!…and cassette tapes?!)…and dance all around to the likes of Michael Jackson, Boston, Styx, The Rolling Stones…’Start Me Up’ was one song we really rocked to. My older brothers had all kinds of musical selections to choose from. We would sit and look over those vinyl album covers for hours!  But one day I remember dancing at Patricia’s house in her TV room, which we never did. Her house was always very meticulous and clean. But for some reason on that particular day no one was home, so we went all out rebel-crazy and jumped all over the couches and furniture. We even whipped up some Kraft macaroni and cheese and sat at the dining room table and ate like queens for a day. She had an infectious, and sometimes mishievous laugh back then too.

We used to make these silly friendship pins for each other, in which we would string a bunch of beads on to safety pins and then hook strands of pins together. We would wear them all over our clothes. We would make so many that our pins would be hanging down past or waist lines. My father took a picture of us with our arms wrapped around each other as we showed off our dozens of pins that proved our loyalty to one another. We were grinning from ear to ear with our Farrah Fawcet hair-dos in full force!  We might not have been in the ‘in’ crowd, but we had each other and one true friend is all a girl really needs.

And we loved to swap clothes, but we both longed for coveted items that could not be found in either of our closets, such as Levi’s 501 jeans and Polo or Izod shirts. We dreamed of shopping sprees to the coolest store ever…Miller’s Outpost. We used to rip off the rectangular Wrangler tags that were tightly sewn onto the back pockets of our jeans, and tell people that they were really Levi’s. That never worked. We did get some knock-off topsider style shoes that we wore every day. They looked exactly the same, which we loved.  But one fateful day Patricia got a real pair of Levi’s jeans and we both screamed for joy. I was jealous of course. She wore them well.

We faithfully trick-or-treated together every October…for years. We would unload our stash at the end of the night and trade and regroup our candy for hours.  One year we dressed up like older women with our moms’ dresses and shoes, and we wore TONS of make up, and one homeowner asked if we were ‘ladies of the evening’…to which we exuberantly replied YES!!…We had no clue. We would laugh over that one many years later.

But our best and lasting memories were made in the hundreds of walks we took together both to and from our elementary and high school.  In those 1-2 mile walks we would speak of crucial things such as clothes, boys, teachers, boys, friends, boys, rock bands, boys!…and we would speak of our dreams for the future, which included marrying the men of our dreams in gorgeous wedding gowns, and having the most perfect and beautiful children. Yes, those were the dreams a young Patricia Navarino would speak of  having and holding. Those are perfect dreams to reach for. We did not speak of growing old, but of living life to the full.  I knew Patricia would be a wonderful wife and mother one day, as she had such a tender and nurturing heart. I recall her beloved cat JR, whom she would nuzzle and cradle like a child. I was a dog lover, and that would be our only disagreement! Patricia’s longing to care for and comfort others was so clearly seen even as a young girl, as she poured love into the lives around her. Yes, that was Patricia’s heart….

The years passed and Patricia and I lost touch. I went away to nursing school, but came back to the valley after graduation. Then one day well into both of our nursing careers, Patricia and I would run into each other at the hospital cafeteria at Scottsdale Osborn. We both worked there as RN’s and did not even know it! Now, this was pre-facebook, cell phone, and the like. She was the one who recognized me, and we both embraced like no time had passed. It was such a thrill to see my old friend again, and we quickly began chatting it up like we always had. I would learn that Patricia had become Mrs. Joe Winters and that she had a son named Sam. Her girl age dream had indeed come true. She was a wife and mother, and was beaming as she spoke of them. They were her most cherished and prized jewels in life. We exchanged numbers and I later brought my daughter and son over to her home in Chandler. It was then that Patricia shared with me about some concerns with her heart. Pregnancy had been hard on her physical body, most specifically, her heart. And yet her joy over her son was what radiated through her. I wondered if she was downplaying the cardiomyopathy, but in speaking with her further, I soon realized that she indeed appreciated the enormity of it, but chose to celebrate her life and family all the more. She most certainly would have sacrificed in any way to bring her son into the world, and she would make that sacrifice again shortly thereafter. Patricia was pregnant again, and motherhood brought radiance to her. She was experiencing a dream that many women long for…the miracle of carrying a child.  She would not have changed any of it. Yes, that was Patricia’s heart……

In time Patricia would develop much more difficult symptoms in regards to her heart. Many of us heard and sat on the sidelines feeling helpless. Many prayers were lifted on behalf this splendid woman. My family and I had up and moved to NC in 2007, but shortly thereafter facebook came into the spotlight. Patricia and I would again connect on there, and she was always sure to ask me about how my son was doing, and how I was doing. My middle son has special needs. I knew at that time Patricia was really struggling with her health, and yet she always put the focus back on me and how I was handling things. When I would ask about her, she would always stress that what she was going through paled in comparison to what a mother must go through who watches their child struggle. She was a selfless mother indeed. Through it all her focus remained unwavering…it was always on her husband and sons. If they were good, Patricia was good,…even though her heart was failing. That precious heart beat for them. Yes, that was Patricia’s heart.

Then Patricia’s miracle became a reality in March of 2010. We all cried in joyous relief to learn that Patricia would receive a heart transplant. It was a bittersweet celebration, as we would all come to learn of and fall in love with the Storch family. Who can ever forget the blue eyes of one stunning thirteen year old by the name of Taylor Storch?  This was the angel of a girl who tragically lost her life much to soon, and yet it was her heart that now beat in Patricia’s chest. And through the grace and mercy of God, these two families would miraculously come together and allow the nation to embrace their journey as well. The image of Tara Storch hearing her beloved daughter’s heart beating inside Patricia’s chest via a stethoscope is a gift that countless people will cherish for all time. It was a moment that changed many lives and hearts forever. The enormity of it cannot be adequately expressed in words. But that day people from across the country received the best kind of gift…it was not the kind of gift one has to stand in line for hours for on black Friday, or it was not something tangible that can be placed under a tree. Patricia and Taylor extended the gifts of love, sacrifice, selflessness, humility, grace…and time. What Taylor Storch gave Patricia was more time, and what Patricia and the Storch family gave us all was a deep and abiding respect for life, and the brevity of it. We fell in love with our lives again, and the lives of our children, and others. We saw things differently as we watched this life story unfold, and we saw things in a fresher and better light. And to top all that, we saw Patricia become a vibrant and active mom again. She was given over three more years of precious time. Yes, Taylor’s heart had become Patricia’s heart….

The years to follow had some struggles for Patricia as we all know, but she truly lived each and every day as a gift. She did not take for granted the colossal blessing she was granted, and she loved her life and family well. We are all humbled by her example of grace and dignity in the midst of her circumstances. We will all miss her usual updates and momma braggings in regards to Sam and Jack, and I will personally miss the late night chats as she would chime in if she saw me online. Almost every chat would involve mention of the Lord God, as Patricia was firm in her faith and love for Him. He was indeed carrying her every step of the way.

And so our Patricia Winters, who suffered from a failing and weakened heart here on earth, would teach us all and countless others to truly live from the heart. She will always be loved, and her legacy will live on in the lives of her loving husband Joe, and fun-loving sons Sam and Jack. They are indeed the greatest parts of Patricia’s heart……

Patricia sent me this pic a few months ago and we were laughing hysterically over itGreat memories. We are about in the seventh grade here. You can see our Farrah hair waves..and don’t miss those topsider style shoes! Patricia is in the middle. That’s me on the right in pink and another neighborhood friend named Julie.

Winters FamilyHere is the fun and spunky Winters family…Joe, Patricia, Sam, and Jack.


13 Responses to “Patricia’s Heart….A Tribute to Patricia Navarino-Winters”

  1. Rich Says:

    Beautiful story, Deanne. I’m sorry for the loss of your childhood friend. She sounded like a remarkable woman. Praying for her family. 😉

    • Sylvia Leys Says:

      Deanne, my name is Sylvia Leys, I am a very good friend of Patricias brother Ralph and I wanted to tell you how wonderful the tribute you wrote about Patricia is!!!! If and when youn have time, may I please speak to you about other matters? Please look me up on facebook, I also have a child that was diagnosed with Autism and it was diagnosed in 2010. Please look me up, Sylvia Leys, on facebook,,,Thank you. Patricia is in a better place, she will be watching over her boys, there is no stopping her! Thank you, Sylvia

  2. Candace C. Lawrence Says:

    Deanne, I don’t really know what to say except “God is so good to us”. It sounds as if Patrica,in her pain and suffering, brought great love and compassion to those around her. I am sure God gave her the strength she needed for what she needed to accomplish on this earth before she went to her Heavenly home. I am so glad you were able to have a friend like her! God bless her family and you as you remember her bringing such joy into your lives. Merry Christmas! Luv, Candy

  3. Lisa Johnson Says:

    Thank you for his beautiful story of Patricia. I met her in 1997 when she was a new grad RN at Banner Desert. I’ve often wondered what she was like growing up and from your description, I can see that the adult I knew was the same person as the child you knew. Patricia did have a loving heart, often taking in some of us “strays” and making them feel special and loved. I will always cherish the time and the friendship we had.

  4. Sheena Weller Says:

    Thank you for sharing your memories of Patricia. I also knew her growing up in Scottsdale and share the memories of walking to school with her in the mornings. Your story brought a smile to my face as I remember the same kinds of talks that we shared! She will be missed by many but I am honored that I had the chance to be her friend.

    • gdnelson5 Says:

      I remember you Sheena!!!! Didn’t you get a car in high school and you would sometimes drive us home??!! You had beautiful long dark hair and I always thought you looked like Pat Benetar! LOVED Pat Benetar…one of my school girl idols. Thanks for reaching out. Patricia was always a great friend.

  5. Dusty Says:

    I didn’t know Patricia but I am proud to call Deanne a friend…..will be praying for Patricia’s family and stocking up on more tissue for future issues of Deanne’s blog….she does it every time!! Love and Merry Christmas to all! Dusty

  6. Colleen Haugen Schulz Says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman 🙂 Beautifully stated !
    Is your Maiden name Carter and you were in a grade behind us right? I looked through my yearbook after I read this …..I went to Mohave too and have some of the same wonderful neighborhood memories. I grew up on Vista and Patricia and I had classes and played basketball together and had some fun times…..Although we had lost touch over the years, we found each other on facebook and I didn’t know her whole story until recently , we would just comment on each others kids and etc…… I know I must of seen her story in the magazine or on TV but never connected the two until she told me of her story recently. That picture above is so cute and looks like so many of our grade school pictures with school as the background. It’s funny to see Julie Oberitter also who I reconnected with as well last year and had dinner with. I haven’t moved too far from the old “hood” and am reminded constantly of those good ole days. Such a shame she was taken away from her husband and those precious boys so young but she definitely left her “heart” in the lives of so many other people , especially other organ donors and receivers and had the faith in God to know he would carry her through after her life here on earth. What a beautiful story and it reminds us all of how short life can be and to live each day to the fullest. Thanks so much for sharing her story!

    Colleen Haugen Schulz

    • gdnelson5 Says:

      Hi Colleen..
      Yes, that is me. I remember you as well! Thank you for taking the time to read and leave such a nice reply. Patricia was so very special, and her life touched many.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I just finished watching the Good Morning America story about how Patricia received her heart. I saw the related post about her death. I am so sorry for her loss, but I’m sure her story helped countless people make the brave decision to become organ donors. I can’t help but think that Patricia and Taylor are in heaven looking down on their friends and families with smiles on their faces.

    • gdnelson5 Says:

      Your words are very kind. Both Patricia and Taylor have indeed left a colossal impact on others.

    • RikiRibi Says:


      I still remember the day
      that your kitty passed away
      I still see you before my eyes
      as the radiant bride under blue skies
      On the day of Joe’s and your wedding
      joy and happiness were the heading
      It was the Feast Day of St. Andrew
      each anniversary you wondered why I knew
      Then came the kids, two boys : Sam and Jack
      same age as my grandkids, easy to keep track
      Soon thereafter, blue skies became a storm cloud
      but you, Patricia, stood courageously unbowed
      you fought with all your might
      to spare your family the darkest night
      but even after Taylor’s selfless gift
      your timetable moved very swift
      You were a lady with a great spirit
      a warm, loving heart you did inherit
      unfortunately, all the effort was to no avail
      in the end, the engine of your body did fail
      The example, Patricia, of your heroic courage
      will be for all of us, extremely precious storage

      IN LOVING MEMORY Rita Biesemans, December 26 2013

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