Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memorials

You know someone has to have been important when the city police suspend parking violations downtown on the day of his memorial.

Davis has these weird parking rules and I hate them. Like many towns, there are areas where you can only park for 2 hours, but in Davis, after 2 hours you can't repark your car in the same block. You can't just move your car two slots down, you have to go to a whole different block. This does great things for the other city policy of encouraging promotion of local business. There is no on-street parking where you can have lunch and then wander the shops without moving your car at least once. There is no time limit long enough to permit you to see a movie, unless you go to the parking garage. I almost never go downtown any more, and the parking regulations are a big part of that.

Of course the plan is to encourage less car and more bike, but there are some of us who can't ride a bike (any more) and have to drive. And besides--how much big stuff can you carry on a bike anyway?

So when I heard that the city had suspended ticketing for parking on the day of Dick Brunelle's memorial because (a) so many people were expected to attend the service, which were being held in the church in the middle of the downtown area, and (b) the service and the reception afterwards would certainly exceed two hours, I realized (even if I hadn't before) the unofficial honor that was being bestowed on this man by the city of Davis and the acknowledgement of his importance to the community.

I decided I wanted to be sure to get both a parking place and a seat in the church, so I headed downtown around 2 for the 4 p.m. service. I had some meatballs to drop off at the parish hall and stuck around to help set up the food tables, since I had time to kill.

One woman, whom I hadn't seen in, like. forever and she hugged me and said "It's been so long since I've seen you!" I told her that I thought both of us would say that many, many times before the end of the event!

There was a neat display of pictures and memorabilia and I got a bit of a clutch in my stomach when I saw this collection:

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This is a collage of the jazz choir's first trip to a competition in New Orleans. I took most of these photos and the picture at the lower left is one of my very favorite pictures of David, singing on the streets of the French Quarter with his friend Jeff and one of the street performers who live in New Orleans. Since this was also the 13th anniversary of David's death, the picture hit me more than it might have ordinarily.

Ned was running around the place with videographer Tom Estes, trying to set up a video/audio feed from the church to the hall to take care of the people who couldn't get into the church. Watching how hard he was working, I just had this wave of pride wash over me. If you need someone to set up a sound and/or video system for you, Ned's your guy.

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Around 3 p.m., I went over to the church and found myself a nice little corner of the back pew and set myself up there. I was going to read my book, but Paul's old boss, Bob Bowen, came in and sat with me and we had a nice visit. As people began to arrive at the church, I realized that probably everybody I had ever met, or at least had ever met when our kids were in school in Davis, was at this event. I sat with Bob and his wife, with Mike Gerrell, who ran the Vets when our kids first started working there and who has been their friend for decades, and with Libbie and Dave Burmester, the founder of Acme Theatre Company and our kids' high school English teacher. In front of me was Gary Matteson from the Davis Comic Opera Company, whose members were scattered all around the church. There were friends from PTA and other community groups I've worked with over the years. My Scrabble buddy Joan and her husband waved as they passed by. Two women I worked with at Women's Health were there. The psychiatrist's wife gave me a hug as she came into the church. Some kids who had been in the jazz choir with David (and possibly Tom) said hello. We were all older, many of us fatter and greyer, but we were all there to celebrate Dick's life.

It was the sort of gathering Walt would have just eaten up and I knew it was killing him to miss it.

I made a very short (2+ minutes) video, but as a video it's terrible because I'm not bold (or rude) enough to elbow my way into where I can get the best shot. What I wanted wasn't really the video anyway, but the audio and there is an excerpt from one hymn where they combined anybody in the audience who had ever sung the song in choir with Dick. There were Madrigals in their madrigal garb, and church choir members in robes, and then people who got up out of the audience to join their voices with the rest. It was amazing. There is also the finale, "When the Saints Go Marching In," which was accompanied Dick's two sons and his grandson and Mark Inouye, first chair trumpet with the San Francisco Symphony, who is also a Davis High graduate. There isn't much to see in the video, but the music is glorious.

The ceremony itself was a nice mix of music and memories. Seven people gave reminiscences, his cousin who remembered when Dick lived in a hotel with his mother, at age 5, and tried to teach himself piano and drove people so crazy they had to limit him to only 2 hrs a day at the piano. He also talked about when Dick learned that if he played music in the barn in the morning when he was milking the cows, they would come in on their own and he wouldn't have to chase them. Another friend talked about the antics that went on when he and Dick had been in a band together in college. Another guy talked about Dick's military career, Stephen Peithman talked about Dick's history with the Davis Comic Opera (even including reference to me, when he talked about our award-winning musical, The Pirates of the Casablanca). Judy Gabor read one of the letters she wrote to him from time to time. His grandson read some collective memories from the family and his daughter-in-law, clearly overwhelmed at having to speak to such a huge group, gave a very heartfelt speech about how much he welcomed her into the family.

After all the concerns about having enough food, vs. having too much food, it seemed that there was just enough, as I figured there would be. And people had such a good time reconnecting again.

I invited Ned and Marta to go to dinner with me, but they had other plans, so I took my self back to Osaka Sushi for the traditional "memorial day" dinner. In recent years Walt and I have gotten away from having macaroni and cheese on David's anniversary, and going out for dinner instead.

Somehow it wasn't the same, going out alone.

2 comments:

WildbillthePirate said...

I came over from That's My Answer! He must have been a Great guy! I just thought the post was about parking in Davis & how you got to spend a wonderful, Don't-have-to-move-my-carmoment!

Bev Sykes said...

It's really wonderful when, at the end of your life, you can realize how many lives you touched, and affected. And he did!