Saturday, June 7, 2008

Memorial Gathering at Mount Vernon

Today was Mom's memorial gathering. We got to the Mount Vernon Inn around 10:30 and started setting up. We had all done a lot of work on Friday, so the set-up was very smooth.

People started arriving shortly before eleven, and soon a large crowd filled the room. After the bartender gave out a few drinks, Sam asked Aunt Judy for a twenty to tip Patrick (the bartender). Patrick laughed when Sam handed him a twenty dollar bill, so the event was off to a great start.

Everyone talked in small groups, mingling about the room wherever the conversation took them.

Judy emceed the candle lighting, which went off without a hitch. All of Mom's siblings--Dudley, the oldest; Diane, the bossy big sister; and Judy, the youngest--lit candles (in that order). Next, us children lit candles--Brian, then me, and Heather. Finally, Kaitlin led the grandchildren: Eamonn, Sarah standing in for Chet and Owen, ending with Sam. It really was quite lovely.

At one time, Tracy counted 48 people in the room--many more than the thirty people we imagined might show up if the stars aligned properly and every single person on our little list showed up. And many of them stayed almost the entire time.

Brian started off the toast/remembrance portion of the evening. He told a great story about Mom smashing a pumpkin pie into his face one Thanksgiving. I was not at that particular family gathering and I had never heard that story! I guess some family secrets aren't embarrassing or shameful, just funny and touching.

Other people got up and told stories, some humorous (I read "Portrait By a Neighbor" by Edna St. Vincent Millay) and some serious (Mom helping someone leave an abusive relationship). I was very moved by all the stories--as were many in the room (as evidenced by the tears).

More later--my Tylenol PM is kicking in....

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