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Patty Loveless Opens Up About Caregiving: “You Need Quiet Time To Find Your Strength”

In this candid Q&A, the country music legend shares how she overcomes worry, stress and heartache

With 41 top ten singles, including 10 No. 1 hits, among them “Timber, I’m Falling in Love”, “Chains” and “Blame it on Your Heart” it’s no wonder that music legend Patty Loveless is set to be inducted as one of the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame this October.

And on August 23, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville will also open a brand new exhibit, Patty Loveless: No Trouble with the Truth, which will celebrate the career of the award-winning singer. The exhibit, which traces the 66-year-old’s roots from rural Kentucky to the top of the charts, will be open through October 2024, giving Patty’s fans from all over the world ample time to schedule a visit to Music City and take it all in.

But Patty Loveless has only recently returned to the spotlight after she retired from touring in 2010 to take care of her husband of 34 years, Emory Gordy Jr., as he’s battled health challenges. Emory is a world-renowned bass player and award-winning record producer who has produced Patty, The Bellamy Brothers, Alabama and Vince Gill, and also toured with Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris and John Denver as their bass player.

Woman’s World recently caught up with Patty to interview her for our latest cover (on sale now online and at local grocery stores) and here, she bares all in an in intimate Q&A about caregiving, overcoming loss and finding true joy.

Woman’s World: What has life been like the last few years?

Patty Loveless: There have been a couple of times that I thought I was going to lose Emory and I’m so thankful that he’s still here with me. I find pleasure in being with him because I traveled so much over the years and a lot of people think because we were married, we were together, but we weren’t together as much as I wanted to be. We always made sure we had the holidays off together, but there was a time I would go 20-30 days without seeing him when I was out on the road.

Patty Loveless Emory Gordy Jr.
Patty Loveless with husband Emory Gordy Jr., 1990Acey Harper /Getty

WW: What advice do you have for other women who are caregivers?

Patty: Try to make time for yourself and give yourself a little bit of time and space from the person you’re taking care of, even if you can just reach out to a friend or just a family member and say, “Can you come and just give me a break for just a little while?” You’ve got to do that even if it’s 10 hours a week total just to break it up.

Give yourself a little time to go get a pedicure or manicure, whatever you can afford to do and just treat yourself.  If you feel like there’s a special thing you want to have done, go get yourself pampered. Try to spend time with friends and enjoy yourself. It’s good to get away because being a caregiver, it does weigh on you after a while and you just have to give yourself a break from time to time. When you are caring for others, you need some quiet time to find the strength within yourself.”

(Click through to learn more about how to handle caregiver burnout)

WW: How do you pamper yourself?

Patty: One of the things that brings me pleasure is being able to get together with friends from time to time. A lot of my friends live in Nashville. I was there a little over 20 years and I developed a lot of great relationships and so now that I’m here in Georgia, I’ve built up a few friends here.

I’m not really one to be in crowds anymore. I like getting together with a small group, like me and Emory getting together with another husband and a wife and going out to dinner and just catching up on life.  It just kind of opens up the world for me. I get pleasure out of listening to other people talk about their lives.

WW: We understand you’re a big nature lover?

Patty: I just love animals and I just get pleasure out of being in nature. We have a little fishpond I like to go down to and just kind of sit there and take it all in. Sometimes I’ll see deer and turkey.  I just like being out and around nature and where I’m at, it sits up against thousands and thousands of acres of wildlife management.

There’s only one way in and one way out from us and we’re surrounded by hills. It kind of reminds me of where I’m from in the hills of Kentucky. We sit in the valley and our house is surrounded by nature. We have 171 acres, but we only have eight acres of it cleared and the rest of it is trees and woods all around us. It really is a wonderful place.

Patty paddle boating with her pup, Sable, 2023

WW: You recently lost your brother and Emory’s daughter days apart. How did you handle such loss?

Patty: God doesn’t give us any more than He feels that we can overcome. My brother, Roger, and my stepdaughter were suffering with illnesses and pain. I look at it and think, “It was time for them to go and to be free of their pain,” so I should let them go. I have to look at it that way. 

Yes, it was hard. We had just laid Katie to rest on the 23rd and then Roger died two days later and then we were trying to help our grandson. We all held each other up. We were strength for each other. Sometimes there’s some things we can’t question. We have to accept and the only way to do so is to accept.

WW: Your fellow Kentuckians suffered tragedy last year when severe flooding hit the state. How did you feel watching the news coverage?

Patty: After Roger passed away and I was seeing the flooding and everything in Kentucky, I thought, “I’m not the only woman going through any of this, and if these people can survive the pain of losing loved ones, I can too.”

With anything that happens in your life, it’s hard at that moment to accept it but you’ve got to be strong. There is a strength within yourself that you can find if you just search for it. When Katie passed, I told myself, “I have to be here for Emory. I have to be here for our grandson, Sammy, because they are here for me.” We got each other through it. There were some trying times, but we made it.

I know that I will be faced with many other things in my life. My siblings are getting up there in age. My oldest brother is 78 now and my only sister living is 79. My youngest brother is 60 and my middle brother is 70, so my siblings are getting up there.  I lost a sister back in December 2021 and then I lost a niece, her daughter, from COVID pneumonia January of 2022. The bigger your family, the more the possibility of losing your loved ones and we’re at that age now.

WW: You’ve always been known for your kind, generous nature. Is there a charity you’re involved with?

Patty: Medical Outreach of America. They go to different countries like Guatemala and Vietnam. They go around the world to help hospitals that need assistance. There was one hospital in Guatemala that didn’t even have doors on the hospital. Medical Outreach goes in and helps. They take a team like a dentist, eye doctors and everything with them on these trips and they also do surgeries.

I did a show for them here in Cartersville to help raise money. They do such wonderful work helping the less fortunate in other countries. Ed Atwell, MD, has traveled all over the world with Medical Outreach. I’ve always wanted to go on a trip but it’s so hard for me to leave. Who knows? I still may do it one day.

WW: Do you feel helping others is also helping yourself?

Patty: I think it’s good for your soul when you do step out of your situation and go and help others. Anytime that you can volunteer and help, that does a lot for you.  It helps you to be able to find comfort by comforting them because it will always come back to you. Any good that you can do in order to help others to overcome their pain and sorrow and to help them through, it’s good for the soul.

WW: Do you feel music helps heal?

Patty:  Music can be good therapy for people. Whether it makes you happy or  makes you cry, it’s good to feel your emotions and get it out.  I always wanted to touch people with my voice, just like I’ve been touched by Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn.  They have always touched my heart and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do to others, to be able to touch them with a song because music has always been therapy for me. When I’m feeling down and out, I’ll put in my earbuds, and I’ll just listen.

EmmyLou Harris, Kathy Matea, Patty Loveless
Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea and Patty Loveless, 2010 Erika Goldring/Getty

WW: How important is your faith to you?

Patty Loveless: God is my best friend. I just don’t pray, I talk all the time, asking, “God, why am I doing this? Why do I keep making this mistake? Help me to understand.”  I constantly talk to Him like a friend throughout the day. I’m always saying, “Show me the way.” Without my faith, there’s a lot of things I never would have gotten through.

You’ve just got to keep the faith and it will get you through. Sometimes you may not always understand it at that moment or may see what has been placed in front of you, but later on you will see it takes you to another place.  Without my faith, there’s a lot that I never ever would have made it through in this world. It’s what keeps my heart beating and keeps me strong.

Read on for more inspiring stories from Woman’s World!

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Radio Host Delilah Opens Up About Faith and Losing Three Sons: “I’ll Be With Them Again”

Christian Singer Tasha Layton Opens Up About Overcoming Depression & Despair: “There’s More Fight In You Than You Realize”

Deborah Evans Price believes everyone has a story to tell and, as a journalist, she considers it a privilege to share those stories with the world. Deborah contributes to Billboard, CMA Close Up, Jesus Calling, First for Women, Woman’s World and Country Top 40 with Fitz, among other media outlets. Author of the CMA Awards Vault and Country Faith, Deborah is the 2013 winner of the Country Music Association’s Media Achievement Award and the 2022 recipient of the Cindy Walker Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Western Artists. Deborah lives on a hill outside Nashville with her husband, Gary, son Trey and cat Toby.

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