Wish assistant’s book tells the world: Open your eyes

PUNXUSTAWNEY ­— More than any time in her life, Patti Lellock says now, her eyes are wide open, and recently, she completed a book to show readers what she’s seeing through the lens of a camera and feeling in her heart.

Lellock, who has served as a wish assistant for the Make-A-Wish Foundation for more than 10 years, recently completed and published “Illuminated: A Collection of Photographs & Writings.”

All proceeds from the book will go to Make-A-Wish, and Lellock will be on hand from noon to 3:30 p.m. today at Caterina’s Dolce Cucina to sign copies as part of Punxsy’s downtown kick-off of Home for the Holidays.
“I was never a writer, but I like photography,” said Lellock, who, for the last four years, has been battling Devic’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the spinal cord and optic nerve and thus, one’s ability to walk.

“This is what it has come to, and I can do it in no time,” she said about the 22-page, full-color book, published by WinkFlash. “It’s almost like it’s not mine. My eyes are wide open, and I feel everything. Nothing is minute anymore.”

The book kicks off with one of the highlights of her life: Granddaughter Cora Lily Hertz, who appears in a photo riding a carousel on the first page of the book. She’s the daughter of Patti and Rod Lellock’s daughter Jasmine, and the couple also has a son, Slade.

Over the years as a wish assistant with Make-A-Wish, Lellock has seen young children face life-threatening illnesses. And now, she knows what it’s like to be in their shoes.

The book project began as a request from Jasmine, who wanted her mother to piece together some photographs and writing just for her.

Lellock pieced together a collection for Jasmine, but as word of her gift for her daughter spread, “Everybody secretly e-mailed me, saying, ‘We want you to do a book,’” Lellock said.

These days, Lellock has an easier time walking, but she still has ups and downs. The ups can be great, but the downs — such as not being able to work with her friends, colleagues and the children at Make-A-Wish — can be horribly low, she said.

But it’s the little things that bring her up: Support from friends and family, a song or, in a particular instance, a few appearances at her home by a yellow finch, not normally native to this area, remind her she’s not alone.

“I had a little episode where things were not going well,” she said. “I was so low, but then, I got over it. Life is about other people, not myself.”

Most of the writings in the book were inspired by “something or someone (who) has uplifted me,” she said.

Lellock is already planning a second book, “because it doesn’t end,” she said. “When your eyes are open and you’re looking, life has so much to offer.”

This year, the local Make-A-Wish chapter’s “Light Up a Child’s Life” campaign runs from Dec. 12-16.