The big five-oh
It occurred to me, not long after Dad died, that Mom shouldn't be alone on what would have been their 50th anniversary: February 4, 2017. So I bought a plane ticket, took a day off work, and flew out for a long weekend. This is my favorite photo from the trip; you can find the rest at the end of this post (click on them to view descriptions).
It was every bit as great--and every bit as sad--as I thought it would be. There were some highlights full of smiles and laughter: We saw a Venetian Renaissance painting exhibit at the Denver Art Museum (Mom is a retired art historian, so museums with her are FUN), in which all the Marys had totally texted each other to coordinate their outfits: red dresses, blue mantles, white headdresses (Mom explained the significance of each while I held firmly onto my texting theory). In keeping with Mom and Dad's tradition, we ate the last stollen--German bread Mom makes at Christmas every year--as an anniversary breakfast. We went to see a production of "I Hate Hamlet"--one of my favorites--at Cheyenne Little Theater Players, the community theater where I grew up seeing and acting in shows. We had a couple friends in the cast and ran into a bunch more in the audience. Then we had some mother-daughter portraits taken by my very talented friend Jenny. The last time she did portraits of our family was when Dad was in hospice. Then there were the tear-laden highlights: We toasted Dad's memory with Lillet, his favorite aperitif, at what would have been their anniversary dinner at Chimney Park Bistro in Windsor, CO. At Mom's request, the church organist played Widor's "Toccata" as the postlude--she played it as the recessional for my wedding and Dad's memorial service, but, more importantly, it was also the recessional at Mom and Dad's wedding. Everyone at church seemed to know that, because many of them stuck around to listen to the whole thing, and I caught a fair number of them--including, of course, Mom and me--dabbing at their eyes on those last soul-vibrating chords. But perhaps the best highlight--at once happy and sad--was going through the stacks and STACKS of anniversary cards Team Eric sent (the array shown below is probably about half of them, and they're still coming), including one from Nickie and Warren--the couple who introduced Mom and Dad--containing the photo at the top, taken not long after they met. There were some from friends of mine that Mom doesn't know, sure, but there were some from people neither of us had ever heard of. As we have been so many times on this journey, we were awe-struck by the sheer volume of empathy poured out for Dad's experience. Someone recently told me me that death isn't something we get to try on ahead of time--and yet so many of you know how it feels.
Thank you, Team Eric, for making a difficult day a lot brighter.