In Memoriam: Patricia Ann Hamilton (Spitz)
Words can’t describe the way I feel about my sister on this day, December 25th, 2022. My sister Patti passed on Christmas Eve at 4:00 o’clock 2022. After a two-year brave battle with Cancer, and its treatment, she went home to the Lord. She was surrounded by her family in New Orleans.
She and my eldest sister Nancy, are my sisters. You could not have asked for a better set of sisters. My sister Nancy was there every step of the way with Patty and was our family’s conduit for any of the latest information on Patti’s medical condition.
My sister Nancy gave me and my brother Frank the news on Christmas Eve. Needless to say, even though we knew the call would come, it was devastating. Frank shared the news with his family as we were gathered for Christmas Eve. Nancy told us that Patti LOVED Christmas. That we should enjoy ourselves as much as possible as Patty would have wanted it that way.
That is the plan, although grief and shock are currently on the set list.
Patti moved to New Orleans in the mid 1970’s. Our father, Frank Hamilton Sr. passed away in 1976. So, we all traveled to NOLA after his passing for a family trip on the paddle boat the Mississippi Queen.
As a 13 y/o youngster I would have never imagined the impact of that trip, and many to follow, would have on my life. You see at the same time of my trip I was just learning how to play bass guitar. The seed was planted unbeknownst to me.
Time marched on as I finished High School in Connecticut. My Senior year, I was to play my last HS football game on Thanksgiving. I was Captain of the team, and that game was an important game at that time in my life. What made me happy was my sister Patti and my brother Frank flew in from NOLA to see my game. We took the first kickoff to pay dirt and I couldn’t have been happier to have my family with me.
I went away to college to play Division 3 football. As a freshman I started to have a mental breakdown (Bi-Polar Disorder) that culminated in me being hospitalized in Connecticut for the next 3 years. My sister Patti was fiercely advocating for me, the Psychiatric field didn’t know what to do with me. She would fly in to visit me. The profound impact of that type of love sustained me. I was in hell on Earth.
She was like that with all of her family and friends. Flying out to support people in the hospital with the various sufferings they were going through. She helped my mother and never abandoned her.
Finally, through dogged persistence I was able to get the correct care and was able to return to society.
I moved to Florida with my mother and then we started going to NOLA for Jazz Fests. Patti would always tell us – “Jazz Fest is the last weekend of April, and the first weekend of May”. While this was going on, I started a music career in St. Pete Florida. I went to several Jazz Fests in the 80’s. What an experience! I was exposed to the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Wolfman Washington, Allen Toussaint, and the list went on. This is also where she turned me onto Bryan Lee and the Jump Street Five. He held a regular gig at the Old Absinthe House Bar on Bourbon St. I was a young dude and when I saw this blind man ripping the blues, it was surreal. There was no way to know years later that I would become friends with Bryan Lee and play music with him. This would NEVER have happened without my sister sharing Gambit with me.
My sister Patti told me about this cool musician she was dating named Steve Spitz. Boy was she right and she could not have picked a better man to marry. Steve played blues guitar and I saw his band; the Backsliders play at the Iconic Maple Leaf. The weekend they were to be married, Steve drove me on the back of his fast motorcycle and drove me to the “dress rehearsal” dinner. What a ride! Steve is also a master cook, so I learned how to make Jambalaya and Gumbo thanks to Steve. He also turned me onto Homespun tapes. Homespun provided musical lessons on cassette tape. Those lessons became the foundation for my bass playing since it taught the national numbering system and from that day on, I was able to explain tunes and understand their form based on 145 for example.
The wedding reception was held at Jax’s brewery right on the waterfront in the French Quarter. An unknown piano player at the time named Jon Cleary played the gig. Patti and Steve helped Jon out when he moved from England, and they became really good friends. One of the family stories was that immigration was going to kick him out of the country and my mom and Patti were trying to figure out a way for my mom to adopt Jon. It was an epic wedding and their relationship produced one son named Jack Spitz. He is my nephew and Godson. So, we were together, in NOLA for Jack’s baptism and first communion. These were all great reasons to go to NOLA!!!
Life progressed and I became more involved with the music playing in top notch blue bands along the way. I started my own band and recorded several CD’s. Eventually I formed a four-piece band that had NOLA second lines beats in the set. This grew into an 8-piece band called The Big Easy Revue. The band has gone onto play festivals and private events playing the NOLA funk I was exposed to in my youth.
“TBone” Hamilton would not have existed without my dear sister Patti. There are no words, or any amount of sentiment, that could rightly explain my sister. When you talk to her lifelong friends, they will tell you the same thing. As I sit here writing these words, I remember the words our mother would recite “Love Never Fails”.
My sister is reuniting with Mom and Dad and today WILL BE a Merry Christmas.
Love you Patti – your little Brother.