It’s been 30 years since Pat Paholsky headed up the newsroom at the Grosse Pointe News. The office in which the former editor worked on The Hill now houses an international realty business. Gone are the days of manually cutting and pasting individual articles on each newspaper page; computer layout software was just making the scene when she stepped away from her post. Also gone is everyone with whom she worked, save for one longtime employee who joined the team just before Paholsky signed off.
The times have changed, but there’s one constant to which Paholsky will attest: Once a writer, always a writer.
Paholsky recently published the book, “Bringing Richard Home,” an homage to her late husband.
“It was a promise I made to Rich while he was living,” she explained. “He said, because I was a writer, ‘You have to write our story so our kids and grandkids know it.’”
“Bringing Richard Home” tells the tale of the couple’s courtship. They met when he was 16 and she was 17, at a wedding they both decided to crash. Their mutual rebellion led to the start of a relationship that eventually led to 58 years of marriage, three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
It touches on grand moments of their life together, like their 11 cross-country moves in the first 10 years of marriage — “Moving, for me, is worse than childbirth,” Paholsky said — as well as shared dark times, like the loss of their oldest child.
Its main shrift is Paholsky’s account of the last 12 days of her husband’s life. He fell ill during their annual road trip, was hospitalized and passed away in Arizona. Paholsky and her daughter, Pam, drove his ashes back to Michigan.
“When he was in the hospital those 12 days, I would come back to the hotel and write everything that had happened,” she said, noting she likely would not have remembered otherwise. “I’m thankful I had that way to unwind, to write down everything happening.
“The rest was from journals,” she said about the major points she touched on in the book.
Paholsky fleshed out the story with an outline and pieced it together. Unsure of its format, she shared a draft with friend and three-time Tom Stanton, who encouraged her author to move forward. She eventually chose to self-publish “Bringing Richard Home.”
The three-year process, she noted, was cathartic.
“What a great thing for people who are suffering loss to do on their own,” she said. “What great memories.”
Initially, Paholsky intended to publish the book for family only.
“I could have expanded it into a memoir, but that wasn’t the purpose,” she added. “The purpose was to pay him honour. He filled up the room when he walked in; he was so honest.”
She soon realized the book may benefit others beyond the scope of family.
“It’s for anybody who is mourning or grieving,” she said, “to give them an idea to put down these memories.”
The sentiment is reflected in the book’s opening pages, with an Algernon Charles Swinburne quote: “And time remembered is grief forgotten.”
“When we remember, we forget our grieving and gratitude comes along,” Paholsky said.
Paholsky also has gratitude for her years in Grosse Pointe. She remembers fondly some of the people she met while at the Grosse Pointe News.
“Two people I interviewed who made a deep impression on me were G. Mennen ‘Soapy’ Williams and Gordon Buehrig,” she said. “Williams, noted for his signature green and white polka-dotted bow tie, served as governor of Michigan for 12 years and was chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, among other appointed positions. He was an institution. Buehrig invented the T-top for cars that revolutionized convertibles. I was awestruck by both men and they were both so gracious and kind. The photo I took of Buehrig in his Corvette was reprinted in Corvette magazine and he told his wife it was his favorite photo.
“I have a lot of fond memories,” she added. “Covering the mail boat, talking with the captain. There was a replica of a viking ship that was brought around the lakes and brought to Grosse Pointe. I remember the kindness of people. I made some great friendships with people I worked with. It had always been my dream to be a journalist. To finally get there was great.”
Now happily retired, Paholsky volunteers leading tours at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, as well as working the elections in the northern Macomb County township where she lives. While she’s on the lookout for other volunteer opportunities, writing another book is not among her ambitions.
“It was on my bucket list,” she said. “There were two things I wanted to do — take my daughter to Poland, which I did last year, and write this book for Rich.”
Running a bereavement class, however, is a goal she does hope comes to fruition.
“I taught writing at Macomb Community College,” she said. “I would give students a topic and have them write for half an hour. I got the most amazing stories from them. I always say, if you can talk, you can write. I’d like to pursue (bereavement classes) and show that by writing, they can remember and work their way through grief.
“…Keeping alive the memory of people we love who have died is giving meaning to their lives,” she added. “They mattered.”
“Bringing Richard Home” is available at amazon.com and the Hamtramck Historical Museum.
Sean Cotton, Owner & Publisher
Jody McVeigh, Editor in chief