Sunday, August 15, 2010

Memorial service for a fine man--and a visit with some of my family

The memorial service for my friend Charles was today, some six weeks after his death, which to me made it almost anticimactic. But Colin drove up from Houston and Jamie came from Frisco, both dressed to the nines in suits at a service where some people were very casual. Jacob had spent the night with me and was oh so excited about his uncles and his mommy coming at noon. "It's taking a long time," he said to me at least ten times this morning. They arrived and the boys went to a taqueria to eat, while Jordan and I ate tuna and hummus and hearts of palm--see who the healthy ones are in this family?The picture above shows the only three adults I know who will get the giggles while waiting in line to sign the guest book at a memorial service (unless their sister Megan had been there and she would have joined in). Jacob got drawn into the foolishness, but he really behaved perfectly for the first hour of  what turned out to be a long service. Then Jordan had to take him to the lobby to let loose steam.
Charles died July 3, so I've begun to get used to his absence in my life,though I will always miss him. I was drawn into the service first becuse they had a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace"--I love the pipes but have a hard time picking out the melody, and Jacob looked puzzled and put his hands over his ears.But Charles was a good Scot. One of Charles' sons, Clint, showed a slide show retrospective of Charles' life that had some wonderful pictures, including one of Charles, Reva, and their four kids in one of their cars went they went in for race touring (that may not be the right phrase). Reva was beautiful, but I recognized the older beautiful woman I loved so much and cooked with a lot. And then there were pictures more familiar to me--the ranch, Charles running, the parts of his life I knew him for, and I've probably known him for thirty years. The saddest moment for me was the postlude--a beautiful cello piece--with a picture of Charles on a huge screen. I realized he was gone from my life, and I will always miss him.
Charles was an extraordinary man, probably one of the most intellectual men I've ever met, with a wide range of interests and none of them frivolous--which always made me wonder that he tolerated me and my frivolous interests. He had the most inquiring mind I've ever known, generally a happy and gentle disposition (I only know of one person he really disliked), an acute and sharp wit, and a great love of life. Not many of us are privileged to know someone like him, and I am grateful for the time I spent with him. One of the last times he and I went out together--when he was still able to get about without a wheelchair--we went to a favorite restaurant where they serve mussels. He had loved finding mussels on the beach as a kid and was anxious to eat them again--the first time he went to the restaurant, they asked him if he wanted white, red, or green sauce. Puzzled, he said, "They didn't come in colors when I was a kid." But this night, not too long ago, he ordered mussels and red wine and then a crab cake and then, if I remember correctly, we shared chocolate mousse. He enjoyed the evening immensely, and I enjoyed it just watching him eat so happily. Thanks,, Charles, for a lot of good memories--and some bits of good advice.
I spent the morning getting everything ready so I could fix a birthday dinner for Christian after we got home. We had salad, bifsteak hache au poivre (ground sirloin with cracked black pepper and a sauce of red wine, brandy, shallots, and beef broth), and Christian's green beans--cooked with bacon and vinegar. Pretty good if I do say so. But tonight I admit I'm tired. Long day well put behind me.

No comments: