Alleene in January 2003

Alleene F. Pasco, 1918-2004

by Rich Pasco

I am sad to report that my step-mother Alleene F. Pasco died of a heart attack Saturday morning, January 3, 2004 at her San Diego home. She was 85.

Alleene Makemson was born to Florence Vincent Hines and James Leroy Makemson in Chicago, Illinois in 1918. She married George Flinn, and their son Christopher Jay Flinn was born in 1950.

Meanwhile in 1950, I was born to Russell Allen Pasco and Gladys Josephine Brewster Pasco.

In 1963, I moved to the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines with my parents Russ and Gladys. Also in 1963, George Flinn passed away.

I had just turned 15 when my parents divorced in 1965. Or maybe it was before my birthday, I don't really remember, because my birthday was all but forgotten in the breakup of my home. Dad moved out and I lived with my mom. I watched Mom go through a lot of grief. I vowed "I will never hurt a woman the way Dad hurt mom."

The next year, Dad married Alleene. She was a virtual stranger to me; they had met at work, and I had not been any part of their courtship. I resented Alleene for taking my dad away from my mom and me. Whether or not there was any factual basis, that was my perception. Dad moved into Alleene's house in Arlington Heights, Ill. When I would go to visit him, I would walk right past Alleene with just a quick "hi" and spend all my time with my dad. Alleene, sensing what was going on for me, stayed in the background and didn't intrude on our visit.

I married in 1971 and moved to Mountain View, near San Jose, California, in 1972 to pursue graduate study at Stanford. My son Matthew was born in 1975.

In 1979, Dad and Alleene moved to San Diego, into the townhouse in Scripps Ranch where they lived for the next 23 years, about 500 miles from my San Jose home. I would often visit with my young son Matthew. We would sometimes make a two- or even three-day trip of the drive, camping along the way. By the time we arrived at Dad and Alleene's we were in need of laundry, a refrigerator, home cooked meals and other services, which Alleene always provided without hesitation.

Still, in my mind, she was "The Other Woman" and I cautiously kept my distance. Somehow I had never forgiven her for taking away my dad when I was a teen-ager.

Following my own personal growth path, I began taking a serious look at my role in relationships. In 1985 I began taking workshops about Love, Intimacy, and Sexuality from the Human Awareness Institute (HAI). I learned a lot about love and began to apply it in my life.

Sometime in the next few years I had an awakening. With what I had learned in HAI, plus some maturity and the perspective of years, I realized that Alleene had taken nothing from me. My mom and dad had divorced for their own reasons, and Alleene had just been there to receive and love my dad. On my next visit to Alleene I told her that.

Rich, Georgia, & Alleene
Rich, Georgia, and Alleene in September 2003
Sunrise over San Diego
original oil painting by Alleene Pasco, December 2003
As she tried to step out of the way so I could see my dad, I told her, "No, wait, I want to talk to you this time." And I said, "Alleene, I owe you an apology. For 25 years I've avoided you, held you at a distance, because I blamed you for taking my dad away from me. Now I understand that you didn't take him, all you did was love him. You opened your heart to my dad, and I want to thank you for it. You've brought him great happiness for the last 25 years, and I love you for that." As I told her I love her, I looked her in the eyes, and tears welled up for both of us. We melted into a hug and cried together.

That was about 15 years ago. During those years we became very close. I stopped thinking of her as an outsider, but as a parent. She became like a second mother to me. I could confide in her and share with her.

Every subsequent visit to San Diego wasn't just a visit to my dad, it was a visit to both Dad and Alleene.

When my dad died in September, 2002, Alleene turned to me for support. Her own son, Chris, was living in New York and Italy and much less available, geographically. I helped Alleene with finances and with a household caregiver. The townhouse was too much for her to manage alone, so I helped her sell it and move into The Arbors at Rancho Peñasquitos, a wonderful assisted living home, in January 2003.

Alleene thrived at the The Arbors, although she dearly missed my dad. I experienced the staff as helpful, competent, and caring. There, she became fast friends with another resident, Georgia Pynchon, and together, Alleene and Georgia took an oil-painting class.

Over this last week, Alleene worried as Georgia was hospitalized for a minor matter. Georgia returned home today.

This morning, Alleene felt chest pains as she was going about her morning routine. Her care-giver called 911. Her heart stopped and paramedics were unable to restart it with CPR. She passed away at 6:22 a.m.

I phoned many of her friends, who were surprised to hear of her passing. "I just had lunch with her on Thursday," some said, "and she seemed fine." Appearances can be deceiving.

Per Alleene's prior directive she was cremated by the Chula Vista Humphrey Mortuary, and her ashes scattered privately at sea.

Memorial services were held 2:00 p.m. Saturday, January 10, 2003 at the Scripps Ranch Swim & Racquet Club, 9875 Aviary Dr., San Diego. (map)