On the morning of May 14th, a certain Dr. Henry Kissinger was remembering the time the late, great Patricial Taylor Buckley received a phone call at her house at about 8 a.m.
The hour, close friends like Dr. Kissinger knew, was far too early to be calling Mrs. Buckley from any place but a hospital.
When a voice on the other line explained that it was the President calling for her husband, William F. Buckley Jr., she shot back: “The president of what?”
Dr. Kissinger was with more than a hundred other mourners that morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur who’d gathered for a service in honor of Bukley, who died last month at the age of 80.
The setting was fitting for a woman whom so many worshipped.
“We mortals need to be reminded of the finite nature of our scale,” Dr. Kissinger said. “The term ‘larger than life’ can be overused. In Pat’s case, it was an understatement.”
Reinaldo Herrera, husband of high-society fashion designer Carolina, briefly illustrated “the extraordinary fantasy world that Pat created” for her friends and family. She was, according to Mr. Herrera, as at home in the drawing room of a palace as she was in the kitchen, conversing with the “three Dominican ladies,” who cared for her affectionately for so many years.
Then, a few short remarks by the jeweler Kenneth Lane drew upon Mrs. Buckley’s incredible sense of style, which, Mr. Lane offered, was about a lot more than spending a fortune.
Caitlin Buckley, her granddaughter and the daughter of her surviving son Christopher, told a crowd that included Tom Wolfe and George Will about the woman she called “Nan,” who chided her for buttering rolls in mid-air and taught her the fine art of air-kissing.
Following a song by the Wiffenpoofs, Yale’s famed a capella troupe, Frederick Melhado, an investment banker and close friend to the Buckleys, recalled that in the final days of Mrs. Buckley’s life, he’d told his dying friend that he wished he had a magic wand.
At this, he said, Mrs. Buckley responded: “I know, but we all run out of magic wands, eventually.”