Kathleen Coad O’Brien Lost Her Husband Pat Much Too Soon: A Love Story

I know Kathleen Coad O’Brien from Facebook. There is nothing frivolous about Kathleen, as you’ll see below. While she fights Common Core in her state with every ounce of energy she has (and she’s loaded with it), she has a quick wit, common sense, a deep faith and posts stunning photos of the flowers she grows in –– wait for it ––North Dakota. Not that flowers cannot be grown in North Dakota, but I think not much survives a winter there. She’s busy planting, planting, planting all Spring. The pictures she posts of her yard, her American flag, her office –– many things –– makes you think of the perfect American home. So Kathy unexpectedly, and recently, lost her husband, Pat O’Brien to a medical condition. Below my little treatise on trusting the Internet is some of her story.

Kathleen Coad O'Brien and Pat O'Brien

Kathleen Coad O’Brien and Pat O’Brien

At one time, it felt strange to mention a Facebook “friend” whom I had never met. Or a blogger friend that I knew only from his or her writing. Since so many tend to think of the Internet, Facebook and bloggers as a possible evil to avoid at all cost, I’ve never seen it that way. When/if you read the same bloggers, or Facebook posters, day-after-day, or week-after-week, you do get to know them. When a person writes, and pours out her/his heart –– when they’re writing with conviction (and I don’t read anyone who isn’t writing with conviction), the things that matter to them –– you know when it’s genuine. You just can’t do it day-after-day, and hide behind a secret agenda. That’s why I call Kathy a friend, more than a Facebook friend. I’d love to sit down with a glass of wine and have a talk. Kathy, if you’re ever in Tulsa, don’t forget I’m here.

My friend Grumpy, at Grumpy Opinions, knows Kathleen better than I, and has had some phone conversation and emails with her over the years. The story of her marriage, and her enormous loss is worth telling. Here’s how Grumpy said it:

You might not know Kathy O’Brien, but the politicians up in North Dakota do.. She keeps a close eye on everything they do, and when they do something stupid or corrupt she lets them and everyone in North Dakota know about it.  Some of them love her, some not so much, a few like the Superintendent of the States Department of Public Instruction  Kirsten Baesler, who is Pro Common Core, would love to see her go away.

I first ran into Kathy O’Brien about six years ago, before I started Grumpy Opinions, back then we both actively commented on USA Today.. using the screen name “Who Won”  When I started Grumpy Opinions she became Grumpy Opinions biggest Facebook supporter, she’s “Liked” thousands of Grumpy Opinion Pasts and shared hundreds of them.  Kathy’s down to earth, easy to talk too, smart as hell, and a corrupt politicians nightmare..

There’s an old expression, behind every great man, there’s a great woman.  I figure it works both ways, For Kathy that man is Pat O’Brien.

Kathy decided that a long time ago…

Kathy and Pat

Kathy and Pat

Of course they went through that period when girls think boys are yucky and boys feel the same way about girls…

But by the seventh grade, Kathy decided maybe Pat wasn’t so yucky after all, just guessing but I’d bet it didn’t take her long to convince Pat she wasn’t exactly yucky either.

Pat and Kathleen

Pat and Kathleen

They were together from the 7th grade until sometime in their college years, when they drifted apart..

What followed are what Kathy calls the years we weren’t together.

It took around a quarter century, they both found themselves back in Bismarck, and both single.. Pat told her he’d always thought they’d end up back together when they were old…

So Kathy made a CD with 7 of their favorite songs from the old days,  and titled it “Are We Old Yet”

That was about 14 years ago.

They’ve been together ever since..  They got married in 2008

On Monday August 31st Kathy posted this on a Caring Bridge Page a friend had set up for Kathy:

Still fighting for life:  Pat has been in the hospital since Friday, August 28. They now think he has a massive infection in his body that has gone septic. At first they thought it was congestive heart failure but tests show his heart is strong. His lungs are filling with fluid so he has now been intubated and moved to the ICU. Luckily most of his siblings were able to get to the hospital before the intubation and were able to speak with him. I talk to him every day, even though he is heavily sedated as he would want to be. His vitals had improved as of yesterday so I am hopeful. Keep the prayers coming, Jesus help him.

Kathleen and Pat O'Brien

Kathleen and Pat O’Brien

I exchanged a couple quick Facebook messages with Kathy around that time she sounded optimistic..
But on September 5th Kathy posted this on Facebook. (Grumpy Elder)
He’s Pain Free, Dancing With Jesus (video below)

From Kathleen Coad O'Brien's Facebook Page

From Kathleen Coad O’Brien’s Facebook Page

I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe (video)
My thanks to Kathleen and Grumpy Elder for permission to share these sweet memories. Common Core, our children’s education and their privacy is a major issue for both of them. Browse through Grumpy Opinion’s archives and take a look at this one: National Student Privacy Symposium To Paint Rosy Picture About Student Collection.

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