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A storm, an anniversay, and a funeral

1951-10-28 Mom and Dad Cut the Cake.jpg
Mom and Dad cut the cake in October 1951


So I went to Portland last Friday amidst rumors that the biggest storm since the Columbus Day storm of 1962 was about to hit the Pacific Northwest. I was worried that there might be mudslides on the train tracks, after several days of steady rain, but the train trip ended up being uneventful, and aside from some strong gusts of wind on Saturday and a fair amount of rain all weekend long, the storm ended up being kind of a bust, at least as far inland as Portland.

The reason for the trip was to celebrate my mom and dad's 65th anniversary. On Saturday, my sister-in-law, Terry, made an amazing dinner featuring salmon smothered in crab meat. We dug in, then did a round of toasts to Mom and Dad. Terry got up and put one of Dad's favorite songs on the stereo: Don Williams' "You're My Best Friend," which is a man's testimonial to his love for his wife. I looked over and saw Dad toasting Mom with a grand gesture, and I completely lost it. I can't describe what I was feeling, but I had to leave the table to blow my nose. Terry followed and said she was sorry, and I said, "No, I love the love." That's as close as I can get, I think. I was just overwhelmed by love and a feeling of complete connection with everyone at the table.

The next day was Kate Yule's funeral. Since I was in town anyway, I decided to go. (I had brought appropriate clothes just in case.) I had expected to see a lot of Seattle people there, and in fact I ran into kate_schaefer and Glenn right away, so I sat with them in the pews. I also spotted hal_obrien and akirlu, although I didn't get a chance to talk to them. Needless to say, this was also a very emotional experience for me, since Kate died of the same cancer that I've got. The booklet they handed out before the service included John M. Ford's sonnet "Against Entropy", which I'll just repost in its entirety, since it's such a moving piece of work:

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days
Perhaps you will not miss them. That's the joke.
The universe winds down. That's how it's made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you'll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.


Lots of people got up to tell stories about Kate, attesting to her intelligence, generosity, warmth, wit, and love of lists. Most moving to me were the two nieces who were clearly devastated by the loss of a beloved aunt. However, there was lots of humor too, and one of the men from the Gay and Lesbian Square Dancing group that Kate joined before she met her eventual husband, David Levine, got up and talked about how she hid her true identity at first, "but eventually she came out of the closet as a straight person!" My brother had kindly driven me to the ceremony and waited around until it was done, so I left immediately after it was over.

The next morning Mom and Dad and I had breakfast at the Dockside Saloon and Restaurant, just as we did on my last visit to Portland last month. On that visit, the waitress told us they served crab cake benedicts on the weekend but would be willing to make them for us whenever we wanted. So we settled IN at the same table as before, and the same waitress came up and said, "I remember you guys!" We were of course pleased, and we had crab cake benedicts, which were pretty damn fine. On the train to Seattle later I discovered that my niece was also on board. I knew she was coming to Seattle, and we had made a date to have lunch today, but I didn't know she'd be on the same train. So we sat together for a while talking about her willful, headstrong five-year-old daughter who apparently has already figured out that she needs to behave differently with her teachers than with her parents. Since my diagnosis, the surest way to make myself cry has been to think about how I won't be able to watch her grow up. "Perhaps you will not miss them. That's the joke."

So I'm back in Seattle feeling emotionally drained. Was it Joanna Russ who said that feeling clearly is just as difficult as thinking clearly? Boy, howdy.

2016-10-17 Mom and Dad in the condo.jpg
Mom and Dad in their condo on Sunday

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
dalmeny
Oct. 19th, 2016 02:34 am (UTC)
All love, Randy. What a fantastic and connected family you have.
holyoutlaw
Oct. 19th, 2016 02:48 am (UTC)
Beautiful and moving.
voidampersand
Oct. 19th, 2016 03:52 am (UTC)
Wow! 65th anniversary. That's fantastic.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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