Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Good House

When you are involved with theater for awhile you get in the habit of "counting the house," guesstimating how many people are in the audience.  If it's a lot, you have a good house.
Charles had a good house.

Walt's former boss and friend of over 30 years lost his battle with cancer last week and his funeral was today.  St. James Catholic Church in Davis has a seating capacity of 580 and they were not packed in tightly, but it would not be out of the question for there to have been ~300 people there today.  Definitely a good house.

We went to the rosary last night and there weren't quite as many people for that, but still more than your average funeral.  Everybody loved Charles and he had people from the many corners of his life showing friends, people from the church, couples that he and wife Vicki counseled before their marriages, and friends from the neighborhood where the family lived.  I'm sure there were lots of other subgroups too.

I didn't know Charles well because there weren't that many social events where we crossed paths, but I always liked him and he always gave big hugs.

When David was in grammar school Charles and Walt would have lunch together once a week (a practice which continued for many, many years) and on their lunch days, David and Charles' son Christopher would also have lunch together at school, which I just loved.  Chris is now this big hulking guy and I reminded him of his lunches with David.

The funeral was unexpectedly extremely emotional for me.  For one thing, I get emotional at other people's pain, and there was a lot of it to go around today, but as they walked in with the casket to a hymn sung by the congregation, all I could think of was my mother's eventual funeral.  I think so much about how she is and how much happier she would be to join her family, and the day to day running of the things that need to be run for her, and what I can do to make her remaining time here more pleasant, that I never think about her actually being GONE and all of us sitting around a church some day singing hymns and sharing memories.  I had to really fight to keep myself under control and force myself to think of anything but what was going on in that church.

After the ceremony, Walt is a great schmoozer and this was a chance for him to catch up not only with the people in the office where he worked, but also people from other NRCS office around the state (Charles was the State Conservation Engineer). 

I ended up finding a friendly wall to sit on and sat there for awhile until this lovely woman came and sat with me.  She saw me sitting alone and thought I might need some help.  We had a nice visit and at one point when we were talking about house prices and how it was impossible to find an affordable house in the Bay Area, I told her about our friend Ndangi from Zaire, who lives near Stockton and commutes to an office south of San Francisco, a one-way trip of 2-3 hours.  She was surprised that I knew someone from Zaire because she was also from Zaire.  She had left Zaire to go to Rwanda and when the war broke out there, the borders to Zaire were closed, so the only way to get out of Rwanda was by flying to the United States.  She's been here ever since.  Talk about small worlds.

The reception was huge

(about half the people)

And at the end people shared memories of Charles and folks from the office gave the traditional cheer that they gave to everyone who retires...a hip...hip...hooRAY!

I came home and took a nap and started writing this, but the phone rang.  It was Atria telling me they were sending my mother to the ER.  They said she had fainted and was "disoriented" and that her blood pressure was "sky high." They sent her to Sutter Davis Hospital (where I volunteer) and I rushed over there.  She was scared and confused but I kept explaining things to her and got her laughing.  

They ran every test in the book including another CT scan, chest x-ray, EKG and tests on every possible body fluid.  All came back normal.  The doctor had no clue what the problem is but suggested maybe getting an EEG to rule out seizure disorder was recommended.

After reviewing everything I know about what happened, I think that Atria people were just seeing one of her "spells" for the first time and to be safe sent her off to the ER.  I am going to talk with them tomorrow.  I am going to have lunch with my mother and then spend a few hours with her just to kind of take stock of how she is and if she faints again.

It's not time to plan her funeral just yet.

But it looks like I'll be taking her back to the doctor again soon.

What SHE thought of the whole thing.

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