Monday night, we threw a celebration of my father in law's life at our home. While not a lot of the people who came knew him well, he had met many over the years as he was always a presence at our parties. So, when my husband published a beautiful obit which ended with an open invitation to our home, he underestimated the response. He expected 10-15 people and I just looked at him and said, "You don't know our friends."
About thirty of our closest friends came, bringing great food and lots of love. I had set the table with my mother's china and silverware; we had a full bar serving everything in crystal glasses. We had a huge spread, from appetizers to several
desserts. The flowers we'd received were placed around the living room and my husband set up the CD player with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie, his father's favorites.
The music played, the food was plentiful, the drinks flowed. Our minister came by, my husband's tennis partner, my in law's neighbors, and my son's friends. Everyone made a contribution by their presence and their gifts. When the time was right, my husband served champagne to all and called for a toast. It was short and sweet as he told everyone this was his father's 85th birthday, how much their being there meant to us, and how much his dad would have enjoyed the party. It was wonderful.
I had been out to dinner the night before with a few of these friends and talk of funerals, death and wakes was the topic. One of the "girls" told a story about a recent wake she'd attended at the very elegant restaurant where we were eating. The daughter of the woman who died had ordered all her mother's favorite food, chief of which were grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. Everyone started talking about what food they'd want at their own wake and one person said, "I think we should have the wake before we die so we can enjoy it." We laughed like hell at the concept.
It's so good to have friends.
Watercolor by Laura Trevey