Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lust for Lifelong Learning, My Eulogy for Pat Pascua

Note: I missed out huge chunks of this speech during the actual delivery. I felt myself breaking down right after I started my speech. Thank God for this blog, where I can post my intended speech.

Lust for Lifelong Learning
by Gege Sugue

I was scheduled to deliver speech number 3, which is about Getting to the Point. This speech project is closely connected with speech project number 2, which is to Organize It, thus making speech number 3 the worst possible speech project for the topic I was tasked to talk about.

As you know, I was asked to deliver a speech to honor our beloved friend, Pat Pascua.
That topic and this speech project is such a poor match.

How can I organize the mad jumble of thoughts that have crossed my mind since August 13, when I heard about Pat’s passing?

How do I communicate sense when I still cannot make sense of the fact that Pat is permanently gone?

How do I present a speech with a beginning, a middle, and an end, when I'm still in the middle of processing Pat’s sudden and much too early end?

How do I get to the point when I still do not see the point of this tragic loss, of this pain?

It's not easy. But I will try.

And so I don't go on an emotional ramble, I will structure it around 3 main points. Pat herself was very fond of the power of triads. The point of this speech and of Pat's life revolve around 3 words, which match tonight's theme. Lust. Lifelong. Learning.  Pat Pascua coined the term Lust for Lifelong Learning as one of the values of this club, and when she said them, she wasn’t just being creative; she was describing her life. Lust. Life. Learning.

So let's talk about Lust. Oh, lust. Having the word lust and the name Pat in one sentence seems like the most appropriate thing in the world.

Pat had a body that inspired lustful thoughts; she had a vixen personality that provoked naughty ideas. She had a brain so brilliant; it was utterly sexy. Last year in our getting to know party, I discovered juicy tidbits about Pat's sexual history, more than I cared to know.  Pat was indeed one lusty woman. But to associate lust only with carnal notions when talking about Pat would be to severely limit the word.

Lust is also defined as ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish. .A pleasure or delight. Don’t those words just conjure images of Pat when she was still alive?

One of my prominent visual memories of Pat was one Christmas party when she was asked to dance, she danced, sashayed, danced like no one was looking. And I imagine, she never really minded if anyone was looking. When it came to having fun, to seizing the moment, Pat never held back. She ate with gusto. I never saw her talking about being on a diet. When it came to singing, she would grab the mike and sing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody with intensity. 

Pat's voluptuous body housed a gigantic, energetic, bodacious spirit. That huge chest was nature's way of sheltering a big, brave, beautiful heart. Pat lusted for life. She sucked it to the marrow.

The bad thing about lust is that feeling of not having enough. And now that Pat’s gone, it’s just sad because I feel that I still have not had enough of Pat. Not enough of her passion. Not enough of her lessons. Not enough of her presence.

This is just too sad. So let’s move on to the next word. Let me talk about Learning.

Again, the word learning and the name Pat in one sentence—duh!  Pat was the perennial student. She was curious, always asking questions, gathering information. When you shared something with her that she was not familiar with, she would ask for the link, borrow the book, and google to amass data. 

She was always taking notes, even when she was just part of the audience.

At the drop of a hat, she could spout facts, quotes, poetry. Once in a while she would quote Shakespeare, and that would always astonish me. All these indicated a capacious mind that can accommodate new knowledge, that can absorb, retain, and retrieve information.

Many times, I have shared with you the anecdote about my husband telling me not to stand beside Pat. Because she made me look flat chested. The truth is, I'm afraid to stand beside her because she might make me look dumb.

The thing with Pat, however, is that with all her brilliance, with all her talent and skill, she never made us feel dumb.

In this club, where the length and depth of our friendship enabled us to tell a speaker, “You suck,” Pat never had to say that.  Her vocabulary was expansive enough to include words and phrases that made her evaluations really helpful. They would be accurate, honest, but constructive. She was nice that way.

And when words were not enough, she showed rather than told. She demonstrated to us the proper way to stand with your legs like so, or how to move your body, to swivel like this.

Ask anyone, and they can recall what they learned from Pat. If not for Pat, I would go on living without knowing the proper pronunciation of the word succinct. Sheila learned the difference between “in spite of” and “despite the.” In her eulogy for Pat, Sheila also mentioned that Pat showed us how it’s done. And she did. When we Toasties get complimented for our abilities to deliver speeches and evaluation, we know it’s because Pat and our other mentors modeled the way and showed us how to do things right. Whenever Pat stood here in front, we knew we were going to learn something new that night.

She was the mentor of the club from when it started back in 2004. And so many of our members consider her as their mentor, even if she was not the officially assigned mentor.  

And that’s what was beautiful about Pat. Not only was she hungry for learning. She was also hungry to enable us to learn. On her last day alive, she completed a training workshop while suffering an intense migraine. She loved sharing what she knew, and she knew a lot. That’s how important learning was for her. Ed Ebreo calls her a hoarder of knowledge.

To rephrase what Captain Robert Lee said, “The education of a woman is never completed until she dies.” And Pat spent her last day learning and enabling others to learn. Pat’s earthly education has ended, but the lessons she left behind will linger on in our hearts and minds.

The last word, life or lifelong, is the hardest for me. Because to talk about her life is to be reminded of its brevity. She was gone too soon.

It would take a lot of time and processing to figure out the point of Pat’s death. But it’s very easy to know the point of her life.  Her life has always been about a lust for lifelong learning.

I know that a lot of people are feeling the loss of Pat Pascua. Her death leaves a vacuum in the training industry that will sink in even more through the next few months. Her death leaves a gap in Toastmasters that would be difficult, or impossible, to fill. And in each person in this room there is a hole in the heart that is the shape of Pat Pascua.

To console and to inspire us, I will quote another Robert.  Poet Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

So, friends, as we mourn Pat’s passing, as we feel the pain of her loss, be reminded that life goes on. And for as long as we let Pat’s 3 words, Lust for Lifelong Learning, resonate in our hearts, minds, and lives, we honor her life and give a point to her death.

On August 13, Pat left so dramatically. It was so much like her not to end her life with a period, but with an exclamation point. But for as long as we lust for lifelong learning, as long as we remember the lessons she taught us, we let her life end with an ellipsis, a dot, dot, dot. Life, one that’s filled with lust and learning, goes on.  

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