Photographs and Memories by Anne Mainsbridge

On July 23, 2021 by markfogarty

When I think of Patti, I think of photographs.

Like this one, of my two youngest children. The way it encapsulates their closeness, and yet still manages to bring out their differences.  Whenever I see it, I can’t help but smile.

Patti took this photograph on Christmas Day in 2015.  By then, Jack had been living in New York for a year, studying at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and Alice, back in Sydney, had missed him terribly.  Yet when they saw each other again, it was as though they’d never been apart.  Patti was able to see this and capture it beautifully on her camera when neither of them was looking.  Photography was Patti’s gift.


On the same day that she took this photograph, Patti had also cooked a huge Christmas lunch for over 20 people – including her family, my family and various other friends.

You must come for Xmas Lunch! She’d texted me, when I told her we’d be in New York in December to visit Jack.

We can’t possibly! There are six of us!  I’d texted back, not wanting to impose.

There was no way she was having that, though: I’m cooking a big stupid turkey.  It should be fun!

Seemingly effortless hospitality and boundless generosity were also Patti’s gifts.

Christmas lunch that day stretched on into dinner and some very bad karaoke.  As the mist rolled up the East River, Patti and I launched into a Doug Ashdown ballad:

Winter in America is cold

And I just keep growing older

I don’t remember now why it was this song that we chose for our karaoke duet. Perhaps it was nostalgia for our respective coming of age years in the late 1970s.  Perhaps it was the America/Australia theme. Mostly though, I suspect it was about connection – and how it continues despite separation across time and continents. We sang it very badly, but we each knew every word.

Singing was perhaps not one of Patti’s gifts, and certainly not one of mine either. My children cringed and covered their ears, but they still talk about that that Christmas. “The best Christmas ever” they still say.



Our connection with Patti began in Sydney, in the early 80s, when we were at Law School with her husband, Mark.

“Come over to dinner” he’d said one day, in the middle of an interminably boring property law lecture “Trish (as she was then) would love to meet you”. And so, we met.

Meeting Patti was like discovering a long-lost sister. She was warm, funny, and completely unpretentious – as well as being a fabulous cook. The highlight of those lean student years were the nights we spent at her kitchen table in Leichardt, eating something delicious that she’d cooked from one of her Elizabeth David cookbooks.  Talking and laughing long into the night.

In 1988, Patti and Mark moved to Melbourne.  From there, they moved to London and finally to New York.  We missed them terribly, but we could understand their reasons.  And despite their absence, our friendship went on.

There were many years when we didn’t see each other.  But it only took a letter or a Christmas Card to make our connection spark again across the world.  In time, letters were replaced by emails and texts and Facebook messages.  But always when I heard from Patti, it was as though she was right there in the room. The same irreverent humour, the same despairing but witty quips about the state of US politics, the same warmth and generosity – she signed off almost every one of her messages with the words “Much Love”.  Unlike many women, she was never competitive.  The stories we exchanged with each other were mostly of our stuff ups and failures.  And how we used to laugh!


In May 2019, there was a proud photograph from her of her beautiful new granddaughter.

It’s wonderful/strange being a grandmother she texted.

You’ll be a fabulous grandmother, I texted back.

For the first time, there was nothing from her at Christmas. I thought of sending a text reminiscing about the Best Christmas Ever, four years ago. I got too busy and forgot.

I was in a gym in North Sydney, when I got the message from Mark, on the 28th of December. Patti had died, he said, following a nasty fall in London. I stared down at my phone with utter incomprehension. My heart had been knocked sideways in my chest.

I stumbled home along the Lavender Bay foreshore, past the huge smirking mouth of Luna Park and all the crowds of tourists who dared to be alive when she was not.  All I could think about was getting home to tell my husband, yet at the same time I didn’t want to tell him – because then he would feel as terrible as I did now.


When someone dies, you go back and look at photographs.  Perhaps it’s a way of resurrecting them, of convincing yourself that despite their terrible, endless absence, they go on. In the days and weeks afterwards, I went back through all my old photographs of Patti.  Each photograph was like a lit fuse to the past.

Like this one, taken in 1986, at a Halloween party in Leichardt. I went as a “vamp” in a short black dress. She went as an S Bend in a toilet.  “Ït’s what I look like side on” she said (she was seven months pregnant at the time).  Yet despite my short dress, she was the one all the guys were raving about.  “How hot is that woman dressed up as a toilet?” I overheard one of them say. Patti had the gift of being effortlessly gorgeous. Even as an S bend she had a certain style.





And this one, taken in London in 1999.  Ray and I had finally made the big trip over to see Mark and Patti.  Every day she would pick us up at our hotel in Kensington and drive us tirelessly around in the London traffic to all her favorite haunts.



And here we are, the four of us, in New York, outside the Four Seasons restaurant not long before it closed. Some months later, Patti, in typical “Patti style”, crashed the Four Seasons farewell party.  There is a feature about this on one of her blogs




On our final trip to New York for Jack’s graduation, we stayed in Patti and Mark’s apartment. She wouldn’t hear of us staying anywhere else! A Pulitzer Prize winner had once lived in the apartment, she told me.  She had written her novel in the study overlooking the East River.  Patti insisted that I write in there too.

On our last afternoon in New York we sat on Patti’s sofa, sipping gin cocktails and clicking through all her photographs on her various cameras.  She was modest, always downplaying her talent, but we could tell from those photographs that she was good.    Her photographs revealed New York in all its chaotic glory.  The summer crowds at Coney Island, the bright brilliance of NYC Pride Parade, the pizzaz of Fashion Week,

But Patti’s photographs were also full of humanity.  She was able to see the stories beneath the surface of the city, to capture them and to give them back. To do that requires the gifts of wisdom and compassion, and these were gifts that Patti had in spades.  Her subjects must have been able to sense this.  You can tell by their faces, by the way they share their souls with her camera.  Here was someone they could trust.












This is the final photograph of the four of us together.  It was taken at Beulah Street Wharf on New Year’s Day 2017.

Patti and Mark were in Sydney visiting family and came to our place for lunch. I could not resist telling her the highly confidential news that the book I had worked on in her Pulitzer Prize room had won the Finch Memoir Prize and would be published in May. Her eyes, across the table, were bright with tears of joy.




There are days now when I still struggle to believe it. She’s not really dead, she can’t be.  So much of her energy remains. And I think about how badly she would want to tell me about it. What it’s like to die. What really happens. Where she is and what she’s doing now.

There is a vast vacant space in the world, and another line from Winter in America that comes back to me with annoying regularity:

It’s funny how you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone



Winter in America is Cold

At least that’s what Mark tells us in our What’s App calls once a month.  This Covid winter has been one of the harshest on record.

And I just keep growing older

I will, but Patti won’t.  And without her, growing older won’t be nearly as much fun.

There are days when I can’t believe we will never have another conversation.  And other days, when I trawl back through all our letters, emails and text messages, so grateful for all the conversations that we had.

How I wish we could have just one more afternoon, sitting on Patti’s sofa, clicking through her photographs. Sipping gin cocktails. Laughing about the past.

Goodbye my friend, though I still can’t bear to say it.  This is how I remember you best.  The day you took us to the Boom Boom Bar for cocktails. Beautiful, sassy Patti in your little red dress, out on the streets with your camera – capturing the heart of New York.



2 Responses to “Photographs and Memories by Anne Mainsbridge”

  • Nicola Kissane

    Thanks Anne, we all miss Patricia (she didn’t seem to like Trish in ‘our’ time (NYC 2003–2011 and then across the world), and you telling of your times and memories is so heartwarming…even whilst it reminds of our loss. We were so lucky to have had her as part of our lives…gratefully happy memories…and fabulous photos.

  • Zita Fogarty

    Hi Anne, you so captured the essence of Patti here.
    Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories, so eloquently written; it helps with the burden of missing her – as we all do – every day.

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