The memorial trip

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So, K’s parents were atheists. That’s cool — I’m an atheist, too. It does mean, though, that you’re on your own in the memorial ceremony department. That’s why it has taken us so much time to have a ceremony of any kind. I really think it’s worth it, though. It’s always good to make a time to think about people you love who have died. I’m a big fan.

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At the memorial luncheon in Pittsburgh, K’s brother B made an interesting observation — that the parents were believers in science, and scientific progress and social progress — probably in a way specific to people of their generation. Things have proved to not be so straight-forward, but I think it’s true that in all aspects of their lives, including the straight lines of the furniture and china they chose, they valued reason above all.

I’m not sure it’s reasonable to have a memorial luncheon, but it was a lovely event. Old friends who had been to grad school with T spoke, and a woman who had known E well, too, and it was especially nice for us, I think, to think about them as whole people, and not just parents, or parents-in-law.

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After Pittsburgh, we went to the Finger Lakes (in New York State), and further celebrated the parents by visiting the city where K’s great grandfather worked for an early bicycle company, and by going wine-tasting. (K’s parents were very interested in wine.)

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It was incredibly beautiful up in the Finger Lakes. We visited E’s college, and from there traveled north to E’s brother’s camp, four miles from the town they grew up in, on the reservoir she’d spent all her childhood summers on. We were there a few days, and on one day there was a huge family reunion with all of us (E’s sons and families), and with children of all of E’s siblings. It was kind of great to hear stories and see pictures of E as a girl, and of the rest of her family, too. There was an aunt who married an artist and routinely walked around in bare feet, for one. It was fun to watch the younger cousins hanging out, too.

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After that, we spent a day at K’s brother’s farm, which was beautiful, and then had lunch with an aunt who had been unable to travel to the reunion and then we were done.

It was an enormous undertaking, but I think it was actually worth it. One of the nicest moments was at B’s farm. We hauled the boxes of pictures and other keepsakes up from the basement — there were wonderful pictures of E as a kid, plus cards and poems and reports that boys had done. It was fun to go through all that stuff.

I don’t know — it was very nice.

E had been very ill in the last years of her life, so really the kids had taken on the role of organizing the times we’ve gotten together — so it was not new that we were the ones organizing this event, but it was definitely the first time the three families have been together since E’s death, and it was nice that it felt like a thing we enjoyed doing. The boys were patient and kind with each other, and the cousins in various configurations really enjoy being together. I don’t know why this matters so much to me, but it does. And honestly, one of the nicest things about this summer is having my two kids home and enjoying spending time with each other.

And that is that.

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2 thoughts on “The memorial trip

  1. Isn’t it great to have your family close? I feel sad for the families that drift apart. You don’t have to live in each other’s pockets but you share all the important things. Appreciating having mine around me too. Father and son are talking outside in the dusk. I can just hear their voices and it’s a comfort.

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