Reflecting on Friendships: Thankful for Pat

Reflecting on Friendships: Thankful for Pat

Reflecting on Friendships: Thankful for Pat

I never imagined that I would become a fourth generation Funeral Director; I guess my crystal ball was in the shop some 24 years ago.

For the last 23 years I have been on this amazing journey of having the privilege of walking along side the families in our community in their darkest hours. My career has become so much more than a job or a paycheck, this profession has so many teaching lessons. The number 1 lesson I have learned thus far is that relationships are key to our lives.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know so many of the families we have served and be blessed and humbled by them. But usually my time with our families is brief, I walk a part of the journey with them, hopefully equipping them to make the next steps in the best way they can. It’s different with my coworkers, the people of my everyday. But yes, I’m happy to say that because of these many years together, I have good, deep and treasured friendships with the team of people I work with.

One of my deepest & strongest relationships is with a dear colleague who I have known for the last 20 years. We have shared our lives together becoming part of each others’ family. In the twenty years we have known each other we have supported each other in births, birthdays, weddings, divorces, family issues, life’s victories and life’s struggles.

My dear friend Patricia Kolstad (our Journey Mercies blog series author) is now transitioning out of her full-time role as Director of Community Relationships & Resources to a part time role in our company. Pat has been the pioneer & leader in our profession for education within our community. I have had the privilege of watching her create an idea on a cocktail napkin that over the last 13 years has blossomed into a thriving and incredibly unique component of our local profession. As I write this, I have a great mix of emotions that run thru my mind and heart. I am always beaming with pride when I think about how many great relationships and connections Pat has made over the years. For me personally, I treasured Pat’s consistency in our relationship.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from Pat:

  1. Life is Seasonal – If you embrace life and the changes that come your way, you can over come any obstacle that is on your path. Pat decided years ago to blaze her own path and she never looked back.
  2. Drive – When you give your 110% everyday of life you will go farther than you could ever dream of. Your drive can transcend you and affects others around you. Not many people even come close to the inner-drive I have witnessed in Pat. You would think after 20 plus year in this profession she would let up a little, but no, this grandma is still daily pushing the peddle to the metal!
  3. Care & Concern – When you have genuine care & concern for others you will never have regrets about how you have treated them.
  4. Consistency – This attribute makes for credibility in life, this is a discipline and a choice. Pat has not failed to be there for me, her constant and intentional friendship never faltered, she is someone I can rely on and trust.
  5. Truth – This has a different meaning to everyone. Pat’s truth (or core) has been one of love, compassion, honesty, care, concern, and an undying love for her friends and family.

Pat, I am grateful for my friendship with you, you have been a bright light in a sometimes dark world. You have become one of my greatest mentors and friends.

Your passion & contributions to our company, community and profession are only part of your legacy. Your legacy has been defined by your thoughts, words, actions, character, and your destiny. You have arrived . . . and the journey has just begun!

Namaste (I see the divine beauty in you) my friend!


I love you dearly Pat , thank you with gratitude.

– Neil

If you know Pat you are undoubtedly better for knowing her. Share your story about Pat below, it can be anything – we just want to make her day!!

If you don’t know Pat, do you have a friend, a family member or a colleague who has taught you a life lesson or two? 

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Lori says:

    I can understand why you treasure Pat so much. I started calling her Momma basically from the first minute we met. I knew I loved her and felt a connection to her before I even worked for O’Connor. I attended one of Bill Hoy’s presentations probably a year or more before joining the O’Connor team. I knew she was special from the start.
    Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to learn from her and grow in a loving friendship.
    It is bittersweet to see MP transition out of her full time role at work, but I know she will always have a full time role in my mind and heart.
    I love you Momma!!!
    Thanks Neil for letting everyone else know how special she is!
    Thank you too for the opportunity to walk into a special place each day where we not only serve families, but grow in love and service for one another.
    xoxo Lori

    • Hi Lori –

      Thanks for your response. We have all been touched by a friend and hopefully a co-worker too. Pat has been a great role model for all of us. She spent 7 years in admin with Anne making us look good with our families, not an easy task. Now you have the pleasure of making us look good, and we appreciate your commitment to our community and company. I hope you find joy at work and you have deep meaningful relationships with your teammates. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Anne Collins says:

    I joined the staff as a part-timer, quickly becoming a full timer after a month in Jan, 1996 and Pat and I ran the front office together. I learned everything about our profession from Pat. In those early days, we did everything in more manual ways and often typed burial permits in quadruplicate…Not fun! The directors leaned on us for so much more than is done by admin presently.
    We found out that both of our “first jobs” as adults was at World Savings and Loan in Lynwood. Both of us had ties to Bethany Church and Bethany School and the similarities continued from there.
    Except for owners, we are the two longest term members of the staff here. Both of us have a desire to mentor those who have come after.
    Now that Pat has moved to Laguna Woods, we realize that we shall watch out for each other for years to come. It is a beautiful tribute you gave to Pat, Neil. She has served you faithfully for a lot of years and she deserves the honor of this blog. Congratulations, Pat!
    I love you dearly,

    • Hi Anne –

      Thank you for the flashbacks of being back in the day. Wow have we come a long way, I remember the fun we had when Jeff & I would play practical jokes on the two of you because we where slow, oh those where the days. I am grateful for our long term relationships we have had with each other. This has been one of the best journeys I have ever been on. You to are a valued and dear friend. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

      • Patricia Kolstad says:

        Anne . .
        What a journey we have been on . . and the saga continues as we move through the next chapters. I’m very excited about the future for both of us. You are a dear and trusted friend and I cherish our long relationship. Thank you so much.



  3. Catherine Kelley says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman! As a member of TIP I interact with Patricia often. She is warm, loving, thoughtful and all-round beautiful person!

    • Hi Catherine –

      Thank you for your response. You are so right Pat is warm, loving and well rounded beautiful person. She is so loved at work some people call her Auntie Pat or Grandma Pat, I refer to her at times as Patty O, as part of our family. Thank you for your being part of the TIP team, we are grateful for your commitment to our community.

      • Patricia Kolstad says:

        It has been such a pleasure and honor to know you and work beside you at TIP. What an extraordinary community partner TIP has been, and you are a large part of that. Without TIP and it’s incredible Volunteers, there would be families who would not feel the love and support that you show as they move through their crisis situation. You are a gift.


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