Pat "Kelsey" Olson, longtime drummer for Riggity Jig, passed from this life in the wee hours of morning, June 28, 2010, at age 56, with her dear husband, Jouko, by her side. A memorial is planned for early August.
To say only that Pat put up a valiant fight against cancer since her diagnosis four years ago would be to miss a huge part of what made her the person she was—since during that time she sought out and experienced so much more than the dramatic ups and downs of chemotherapy, optimistic prognoses, and crushing setbacks.
Pat brought her own brand of "reality check" to the prescribed life of a cancer patient—the reality that life's worth living for the sake of joy and discovery, pure and simple. She did her best to share that joy with her network of friends and colleagues. Pat found love with one Jouko Salo, her shining knight who rode up on a gleaming Finnish smart phone, and she married him at the Sacramento Horsemen's Association in a warm, outdoor celebration on a warm summer day, then promptly walked over to the paddock fence and kissed her horse on the mouth. So nobody would get jealous. Pat and Jouko had their third anniversary a few weeks ago.
Before her illness Pat travelled extensively, both for pleasure and for her work with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She loved dancing and playing the bodhran with our band and Thistle Glen at restaurants, parties, and Scottish dance events. Her love of the outdoors prompted much of her short- and long-haul travelling as well as stints working at Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks. As the cancer advanced, Pat's need for frequent medical treatment kept her closer and closer to home, but she still managed to make the most of life, performing with the band during those lulls of good feeling between chemo treatments.
Good drummers are rare and precious, and all the more so when they add so much to the party even after they set the instrument down. Pat had them all beat. Set aside your jokes of drummer ridicule and remember this terrific woman, Pat Olson, with whom it's been our pleasure and deep honor to share the music for so many years. If you close your eyes and listen, I think you'll hear the harpers in heaven are playing today with a steadier beat. Drum on, Kelsey!