This past Saturday was my father’s “Celebration of Life” event.
It was basically a party– a gathering of friends and family to share stories, eat, drink, and collect memorabilia from around the house. And it was a good excuse to drink up all his leftover alcohol. Kind of like an agnostic wake perhaps?
I was really dreading the whole thing; just one more check mark in my lengthy “to do” list, and I was just doing it for others- I would have been just fine without the event. But at the end of the day it went really well and I got so much positive feedback. And so many thanked me for hosting the event and told me it was just what my father would have wanted. So in the end I’m glad I threw it together.
Even though he passed on April 10th, I pushed the event to the first weekend in May to allow people to arrange travel. And also to hopefully have nice weather. And the weather cooperated beautifully. Maybe 70 and sunny, low humidity, no bugs yet so people could be outside or in. Much of the remaining family came, so that was nice.
Even his semi-estranged younger brother came– which provided one of the only two awkward moments. When I told dad’s brother about a few of the furniture items that dad had bequeathed to him, he decided to load them up that very day during the party. Like he couldn’t wait a week or two to come get them.
The only other awkward moment was when one of dad’s friends started peppering me with questions about his furniture and if there would be an estate sale and if they could throw their hat into the ring for a few of the items– if they didn’t sell with the house, of course.
Again, timing people. You can be a vulture– just circle a bit longer, ok?
Other than those moments, it was a good day. I drank, ate, kept people entertained and gave away some of data art work and books to people who wanted the memories. So it was good.
One of the nice surprises for me was having dad’s friends profusely thank me for putting flowers in dad’s planters at the house. As I was mowing and getting the house pretty on Thursday, I saw the empty planters. I said to myself, “Those are ugly being empty. They need a pop of color.”
So I went to a local greenhouse and got bright red geraniums (to contrast with the sage green of the house) and some white verbina. It was something simple, and honestly I was just thinking it made the house look more finished and nice.
Little did I know.
All of dad’s friends came up to me, some with moist eyes, and they thanked me profusely for putting flowers in those planters. They were dreading coming and seeing empty planters, because my dad was always so particular about having flowers and plants in them. Driving up and seeing cheerful red and white really made the party easier for them.
Such a small thing, yet such a big impact.
Sunday I spent cleaning more and putting the house to order. I payed bills. I cancelled his cellphone and deleted his Facebook account. I collected more things to take back with me. And I spread his ashes in accordance with his wishes.
While there is still much more to do, there will be time. It’s mostly just dealing with stuff at this point. And I have an embarrassment of people offering to help with everything.