(Last weekend I attended a celebration of Pat Fry’s long and eventful life in her hometown of Detroit. It was a fitting tribute to a beloved friend and comrade who died in August after a long illness. Everything was done with grace – remarks by family members, friends, coworkers, and comrades, a slide show that captured Pat in the many seasons of her life, and, not least, beautiful music. Here are my remarks. For the record, I wasn’t the main speaker. I joined other friends of Pat in the latter part of the celebration.)

In February I visited Pat. I flew from NY to Detroit where I was picked up by some friends. On the drive to Traverse City, I spent much of the time wondering what we would talk about. But I shouldn’t have worried – I had barely stepped through the door when Pat told me what was on the agenda.

First, did we – the generation of the sixties – make a difference in our country’s political life? Second, what will it take to beat Trump and the MAGA movement in next year’s election? And, finally, and not surprisingly, what can be done to maximize labor’s participation and leadership in the elections and generally.

I can’t recall what we decided in that hour and a half, but it doesn’t matter. For me what was so special was the opportunity to spend time with Pat. It took me back to the three years in the late eighties when we worked together in a two room office on Bagley Ave in Detroit.

I can’t quantify how much I enjoyed that experience at the time and how it remains a memorable experience to me to this day. In recent years, when we would meet for lunch in New York, I would tell her that I couldn’t think of a better coworker than her. I don’t know if she believed me, but it’s the truth. Pat was a joy to work with. She possessed an uncommon modesty, enormous energy and a high political IQ, while always finding time for her family and friends. She was never stuffy and “fun” was something she did well.

What is more, I have to believe, the years she spent working in Detroit as the correspondent for the People’s World were the happiest and most fulfilling time of her long and varied political life.

Pat, I’m sure, felt a lot of conflicting emotions during her struggle with cancer. But I believe one of those, you might be surprised, was gratitude. Gratitude to grow up in such a loving family. Gratitude to know and count as a friend all of you sitting here and so many more around the country and world. And, gratitude for the opportunity to fully live a life that she envisioned and chose for herself when she was a young woman, barely out of high school.

Back then she set her sights on becoming a drum major for peace, economic justice, equality and socialism, and against racism and oppression in its many forms. And, not surprisingly, she banged that drum nearly every day of her life, even when she was grievously ill.

Yes, there were, I’m sure, moments of sadness, of heartache, of defeat, but her throughline on most days was that of a happy warrior in the struggle for a just world.

As you can see, I’m wearing a t-shirt from Bruce Springsteen’s recent tour. My daughters bought it for me in August when the three of us went to his concert near Boston. Listening that night, I thought about which songs Pat would have especially liked – she was a fan of Bruce too. I can only guess, maybe Badlands, No Surrender, Dancing in the Dark, Thunder Road, Born to Run, Land of Hope and Dreams. But this I know – she would have loved the song he closed with: “I’ll See You In My Dreams.”

In that song he pays homage to his deceased band mates. He sings:

“The road is long and seeming without end

The days go on, I remember you my friend

And though you’re gone and my heart’s been emptied it seems

I’ll see you in my dreams

When all our summers have come to an end

I’ll see you in my dreams

We’ll meet and live and laugh again

I’ll see you in my dreams

Yeah, up around the river bend

For death is not the end

And I’ll see you in my dreams.”

I don’t know if I will see Pat in my dreams. I hope to be so lucky. But even if I don’t, I’m sure she will show up unannounced from time to time in my waking moments and put a smile on my face, a tear in my eye, and perhaps offer me some needed advice and encouragement.