At last, I spent a day with Tiger Lily.. she looks so much like Michael I burst into tears; Hutchence's mother enjoys tearful reunion with his little girl.
Patricia is the mother of tragic pop star Michael Hutchence and the four-year-old who was dining with her and Hutchence's half- sister Tina was the late INXS singer's orphan daughter Tiger Lily.
After Michael's death in November 1997, Patricia and Tina had been banned from seeing Tiger Lily by the girl's mother, TV presenter Paula Yates.
While Paula sold pictures of herself and Tiger to celebrity magazines, she refused to let the women have access to Hutchence's only child.
So until Paula's death last month, Patricia and Tina were convinced they would only meet Tiger when she was old enough to search for them herself.
But on Sunday, during a visit to the UK to promote the book they have written on the Australian rock star's life, Patricia and Tina enjoyed a tearful meeting with Tiger at a restaurant in London.
Together, the reunited family leafed through a photo album Tina sent to Tiger two weeks ago.
Although the women have missed out on the youngster's early years, the visit has spurred on their fight to ensure they feature in Tiger's life from now on.
Patricia says: "It's been very painful over the past three years, seeing so many photographs of Tiger in magazines when we were not able to see her for ourselves.
"This is something we have dreamt of for a long time and it was heavenly, even though it was bitter-sweet. She still looks incredibly like Michael ... she's very beautiful.
"We always thought we would only see Tiger when she came of age and came searching for us herself.
"But she sang, she danced - she sat on my knee and ate with me. She was just as I remembered her, although she's no longer a baby."
She adds: "We are a very close family, so it's important that Tiger feels a part of us. Michael wanted it that way. He held the family together and it's important she knows that."
To Tina's delight, the little girl arrived at their lunch meeting armed with the photo album she had sent two weeks earlier - and recognised her grandmother and aunt from the pictures.
Tina says: "I wanted Tiger to feel that family connection with us, so I put photographs of her with her daddy in there and photos of her with Paula when she was just a tiny baby.
"She recognised daddy and when she saw pictures of Paula, she didn't react at all. Despite what's happened, she's very happy and very bright.
"She holds on to this thing and walks around with it. I was just so delighted that she loved it so much."
Although the women blasted claims that they have instructed solicitors to fight for custody of Tiger, they have vowed to ensure they get to see her at every opportunity.
Paula's ex-husband, Sir Bob Geldof, was awarded temporary custody of Tiger after she was made a ward of court following Paula's death.
Geldof and girlfriend Jeanne Marine are currently bringing up Tiger alongside his and Paula's three children, Pixie, Peaches and Fifi Trixibelle, until a court decision is reached in December.
ALTHOUGH they have long maintained a close relationship with Geldof, the women say they won't allow a judge to ignore their wishes as Tiger's closest living relatives.
Patricia says: "Tina has never, ever consulted a lawyer on the grounds of getting custody. She will not fight or put a child through that.
"But, obviously, we want to keep contact with this little child. She means so much to us. It's very difficult because she is so far away from us all - we're on three different continents.
"So if the courts say she should stay with Bob and her half-sisters, I would want some very definite visitation order set up. It's not like I can pop over for the weekend - and visiting a child in another country when you are in a hotel is not the way to set up a relationship.
"We would much prefer Tiger to come to our homes and visit us. Our wishes have been very much passed over in the past - although it wasn't a judge making the decisions, it was her mother.
"We've got a lot of making up to do and I'm her grandmother. How much longer am I going to get to see her?"
Hutchence was found dead in mysterious circumstances in a Sydney hotel room.
While the official coroner's verdict was suicide, Paula - who had left her husband Geldof for Hutchence - refused to accept the decision.
She claimed he had accidentally hanged himself in a bizarre sex game and struggled to come to terms with his death, right up to when she herself was found dead in bed at her Notting Hill home by Tiger Lily.
Patricia says she was not surprised by Paula's death because while she was aware the TV presenter had problems, any offer of help had been refused. As soon as Tiger was born, she had cut off all ties with Hutchence's family.
Patricia explains: "Paula lived in a bizarre fantasy world. You just couldn't get through to her.
"We were all very disappointed, but there are a lot of women who feel jealous of a man who is very close to his family."
Although they claim Hutchence was in love with Yates when he first met her while dating supermodel Helena Christensen, they believe he would have left her if it wasn't for Tiger Lily.
Tina says: "Michael's self-esteem had taken a dip during his relationship with Helena and Paula came along at just the right time.
"There was a huge lust there and in the beginning, I think he did love her, although he never told me that."
Patricia also says that while Paula refused to believe Hutchence would ever leave her, he was already dating another woman before his death.
After one trip to Disneyland with Paula and her daughters, Michael was on his way to see another woman, called Blair, before Paula's flight to London took off.
Patricia says: "I've only ever heard him say he wanted to marry one girl and that was Michele Bennett. But he was very young back then.
"Paula might be the mother of his child, but he had no intention of marrying her.
"Michael was very relaxed and happy with Blair. With her, he didn't have to be something he was not. It was no secret to Paula that he still found other women interesting.
"He adored Tiger and that was what kept his relationship with Paula going for so long."
Paula was poised to take legal action over their biography, Just A Man, before her death. She was furious she had not been asked to contribute to the book.
Despite Paula's death, the women ploughed ahead with the publication.
Patricia, who says the reason Paula was never consulted was because she refused any contact with them, explains: "This book has always been a book about Michael, our brother and our son, but Paula plays a role in any account of his life.
"However, even before recent events, we had no desire to provoke new confrontations with Paula. And with her death, we have no desire to be disrespectful to her memory."
Since Michael's death, Patricia has suffered from depression. She was unable to walk or move because of the physical pain, but says her second husband Ross, an Australian fighter pilot, helped her pick up the pieces.
She says: "Ross carried me, bathed me, fed me and put up with my tears and anger until I was able to bring myself out of that horrendous period.
"I had to realise that no matter how much I screamed or cried, nothing in this world could bring Michael back."
Just A Man: The Real Michael Hutchence, Sidgwick & Jackson, pounds 16.99.
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Oct 31, 2000|
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