OT: Gathering of friends and interment of Mary today

Today wasn't as bad as many predicted it would be.
The gathering of familly and friends was not difficult. It was
small and informal. Visitors included some of our former colleagues at HON from a decade ago, who weren't specifically invited but who had seen the obits. My machinist and welding mentor Jay attended, blow me down! I hadn't seen nor heard from him for a decade. He knew Mary too. Nobody who knew me didn't know Mary.
Visitors also included some friends and neighbors from the lake two hours distant, Ted 'n Nancy from 4 hours distant, and nephew Paul from Arizona. That was a surprise. He's a typically impecunious grad student in Tuscon but he regarded Mary 'n me as about all the family he had worth mentioning. He was devastated by her sudden passing. I lack the compassionate life wisdom Mary had but I told him I'd be here for him for what that might be worth. When I saw him there I rearranged things so he could be a pallbearer. I think that meant something to him.
The preserved body in the box was not Mary, not at all. I did not recognize the contents of that box as my Mary. I had no emotional reaction to looking at her remains. The Mary I loved so dearly and miss so badly wasn't there. It was cosmetically good, beautiful even, but it wasn't Mary, not even close. I'm sure they did their best but we quickly agreed as a family to go with closed-casket. Mary would not want to be remembered differently than she was and there's no way any of us would remember her like the cosmetic creation in that box. Dave's photo montage was a much better rememberance. He did a superb job on that, surprise surprise. (He's good)
Shaeff did a superb job with the florals. Really excellent. Roses, heather and little white flowers, just like Mary said she wanted for her 10th anniversery bouquet she died two days short of -- but in funereal proportions as a casket spray and side display. Really nice. She would have loved it.
A deacon said a few words and prayers because a couple of Mary's very close friends are very religious and would want that.
The interment at Fort Snelling was a bit tougher. I kept staring at that box, thinking about its contents and where it was going. I did that on purpose for closure. That was hard.
There was a brief graveside service. After the service, I invited attendees to take a rose and some heather from the casket spray. Nobody moved. I then invited each female attendee individually by name. "Nikki, if you'd like a rose and a bit of heather please take them." Every single one did, once individually invited, none demurred though I made it easy to do so. Tawk about respect!
The mortuary lady asked us (me 'n Dave) if we'd had any second thoughts about optional inscriptions on Mary's headstone marker. Dave muttered "how do you spell leprechaun". I asked if it might say "101st Airborne Master Blaster".
She laughed out loud.
We're no less irreverent than Mary would have been with a twinkle in her Irish eye.
Thence back home, where we had what amounted to a fairly tame wake as wakes go. Mary was Irish, after all. There were 8 of us including neighbors Con and Janna next door. Janna and Ann go way back and Con & Janna were very fond of Mary.
We had finger food prepared and brought by Janna from next door, shots and toasts of Glenmorangie scotch I'd had in hoard for 20 years, and more than a few beers. We ordered in an extra-large pizza to share which was devoured in minutes. We had one hell of a good party. Mary might have slightly disapproved at the amount of alcohol consumed but she would have loved seeing her loved ones laughing and enjoying each other's company, toasting her memory with shots from my grandfather's set of six nested metal shot cups and having a rowdy raucous good time rather than weeping and wailing. That was really fun.
All in all, it was a good day. Even the crying was bittersweet because I cried for the Mary that was so special to me and a few others rather than crying about my fear of my life looking forward. I mentioned to neighbor-and-friend Marilyn and long-time-friend Nancy that I know that Mary did 3 or 4 hours of work opening the cabin in spring and closing it in fall, but I had no idea what she did since I was doing what I did. They both said they knew exactly what Mary did because they do the same things opening and closing their cabins. They know where our key is hidden, they'll check things out when they get there in the spring and let me know what I need to find and bring. Good friends!
I do want to return to the cabin this summer. It won't be the same without Mary but she'd want me to keep on keepin' on, I have good friends at the lake, and maybe my local family and Mary's special friends might want to join me there now and then as their schedules permit.
There'll be many rough days ahead as I eventually must segue to being alone most all day most every day, but I've decided to take things one day at a time and try not to worry about what lies beyond for a while. I have good friends, good neighbors and fantastic family. I may become mostly alone in daily routine and I will sorely miss my partner in daily life, occupant of the right seat in the Camry and Chevy truck and member of the Don 'n Mary comedy team that often played to no audience but ourselves, but I'm not alone in life.
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Don Foreman wrote:

(...)
...but I'm not alone in life.
Our measure isn't in the number of our toys.
It is in the people who loved us, yes?
--Winston
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Don, I only know of you what I've read hear on RCM but I'm sure your Mary would be very proud of the way you have handled her passing.
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Thanks for sharing, Don.
Just a thought. (And I feel a bit lame offering advice) You are one excellent writer, a gift not many have. Perhaps you should spend some time recording memories of better times.
Karl
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Karl Townsend wrote:

I'll second that. If Don wrote a book, I'm sure it would be an excellent read.
Chris
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Christopher Tidy wrote:

I was thinking the same thing while reading Don's posts.
John
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That hadn't previously occurred to me, but it is an excellent suggestion.
At worst, writing like that should be cathartic for Don. At best, it would help others who've lost their spouses. In the middle, it would be a remembrance for friends and family.
--
It's time to try defying gravity

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