I was asked recently about all of the different charity and volunteer work I have done.
I have been distributing Toronto Star Santa Claus Charity Boxes for close to 60 years. I have been involved in Community Centre 55 Hamper and other charity works for over 30 years. I have volunteered for the Daily Bread food bank for over 30 years; the Interfaith Program for 17 or 18 years. I have been involved in history walks for some 40 years, parks and recreation for 50 years, the cancer society, list goes on.
Now, this all sounds like a great accomplishment. But none of this would have happened without my companion and wife for over 51 years. All of these charitable and volunteer venues could not be done, especially now at Christmas time, without my wonderful, kindhearted, and beautiful wife Patricia.
My wife, Patricia Anne McAuliffe, later Domagala, was born and raised in Parkdale, one of six children and the oldest girl in the family. Her parents were kind and generous and this became part of Pat’s upbringing. She was involved in different activities, including Brownies and Girl Guides.
I was also from the west end, and got to know her from some charities we were doing together at different centres. Patricia is a beautiful looking woman who once won a beauty contest and was said to be a lot like President John F. Kennedy’s wife, Jackie. How I ever got to marry this beautiful girl, I will never know.
But this was not the only beautiful thing about Pat. It was her inner beauty and strength that kept our family together these many years. We had two boys and two girls. Our girls are special needs and it is everything in my wife’s personality that kept our family together.
The two boys, Frank and Patrick, are great citizens and we are very proud of them. We’re proud of our whole family, especially our grandchildren and great-grandchild.
What must be told is that through the years we went through some very emotional and rough times, and also financial worries. There were times we were very desperate and nearly at the end of our rope, so to speak. During all of these times, my wife Patricia was the stabilizing force for our marriage and family. Without her perseverance putting up with a lot of my faults, we would have been finished.
At this time, at Christmas, when there are so many different issues that should be addressed and helped, I am privileged to be able to help. This could not be done without the help of my wife. When I go out and do charity work, I know and thank my lucky stars for someone like my wife, Pat. She has worked constantly for well over 45 years, bringing in the finances and knowledge to keep our mortgage and feed our family, especially when I wasn’t working full time.
Believe me, this woman has kept our family together through the good and the bad times. She is what I would call, not the Rock of Gibraltar, but the Rock of the Beach. And I mean that very sincerely. Her motto is “Keep the family together – first”, which I sometimes forget.
Pat is also a cancer survivor – thank God for that! People who know her agree. She is a person who is never in the spotlight but who helps any and everybody she can. But her family comes first.
So ladies and gentlemen, Merry Christmas to my beautiful wife, Pat, and to all of you. Please be kind to each other.
Gene Domagala is a local historian and “Unofficial Mayor of the Beach.”