I was going to title this entry "Three Stage Shows and a funeral" and then discovered that I wrote that very entry on March 12 in 2012, when the funeral was for my mother's stepson, Fred Rynders. And actually in 2017, you have to discount the show that wasn't, the night I wandered around the cemetery looking for the show that won't be presented until next month, so it's really only Two Stage Shows and a Funeral. But it does seem that after 6,600 journal entries, I seem to be living my life in circles!
Today we said good bye to a great man. If the impact a person has on the world is indicated by the number of people who attend his memorial service, John Vlahos was indeed a great man.
It was a beautiful day for a memorial. The sky was blue and clear and this is that rare time of year, which lasts so briefly, when the hills everywhere you look are carpeted in a beautiful green.
The service was held at Mira Vista Country Club, high in the hills overlooking San Francisco bay.
When we arrived, there was a long stream of cars entering the club grounds and all of the parking areas were already full. Walt let me off and he parked outside, down a steep hill, a couple of blocks away. (He was picked up by someone in a golf cart who drove him to the clubhouse).
There was a long line outside the clubhouse, waiting to file in.
All the chairs were already taken and people were starting to sit at tables on the side of the big room.
By the time the service started there were probably twice as many people as are shown in this photo.
John had been an attorney and comments were given by a couple of his partners and long time friends. One of his sons gave a wonderful eulogy that was both funny and touching.
A large group of Lamplighters performed songs that John had performed in his days performing with the company (after which he went on to be Chairman of the Board for 30 years or so), including a song rewritten especially for him for the very last time he was able to get to the theater (Music by Sullivan, lyrics by Barbara Heroux).
They ended their set with a beautiful song, "If these shadows have offended," which combines Gilbert & Sullivan and Shakespeare, that has become a Lamplighter standard (but which is copyrighted and can't -- and shouldn't) be linked here, and the finale, "Hail Poetry," which left not a dry eye in the house. I've decided that every memorial service should end with "Hail Poetry."
After it was a madhouse of people trying to just move but it was more congested than a New York subway at rush hour. I met Judy N, who has been reading this journal, I was surprised to learn, for many, many years and was determined to check behind potted palms to find me. We had a lovely chat until I had the first back pain I've had since I started the cream and I had to go find a chair to sit down (when the pain left, it left and I am still relatively pain free for several days now!)
I had a chance to visit with several of our friends and as I looked around that crowd, I got all verklempt thinking of how many very good friends have come from the Lamplighters, how much I love this company, and, sadly, how many memorial services we have attended over the years (we have another coming up in June). Now we are getting old, grey, and doddering. Some are now housebound and were unable to attend today. At least 3 of us that I saw had canes. Bill Neil sat down next to me with a heavy sigh and said "It's really hard to get old...." I pointed out that we were the same age, and agreed with him.
My father told me, when I was a kid, that Gilbert & Sullivan was the worst music in the world (that was before rock and roll came around, which replaced it) and I never would have learned of the Lamplighters without Walt, who brought me to my first shows. The rest, as they say, is history. 60 years of history with us and the Lamplighters. How very different my life would have been if I had never gone to that first HMS Pinafore (not even my favorite).
I felt surrounded by love today as we all joined together with attorneys and judges and who knows what other groups, to celebrate John's life and to acknowledge what a very special person he was.