This weekend? Has been my dad's favorite weekend, for at least 30 hundred years.
This weekend? Was the annual gathering of Menno's in the Fraser Valley/Greater Vancouver area. It was the 1,275th Annual MCC Relief Sale (a fundraiser to support all the relief, development, and peace work the Mennonite Central Committee does around the world). Tis a worthy cause, but that's not why most folks go.
Its the eats.
Farmer sausage, vereniki, roll kuchen, platz, plume mousse, borscht, zwiebach, pies and watermelon.
And its the peeps.
All of your relatives, friends from wayback, (like from that time you went to Bible School) or folks you went to church with for a few years in '76, your cabin-mates from camp, or your parent's friends, or your friends' parents or your kids' friends, or your kids' old Sunday School teachers, or your old Sunday School teacher, or that guy you crushed on during the Pie Factory years.
It's what heaven will be like if the Pentacostals and Baptists don't get in.
In the olden days, my dad would go early, during the setting up phase, and mooch food from the Grey Hairs in the kitchen. Then he'd find a barn/bale of hay/stack of quilts to sleep on overnight, so he could be the first one in line for food again in the morning.
By the time we arrived to work in the 'Farmer Sausage on a Bun' booth with the Krauses, he'd been up for hours, eating and small talking with any and every one that he may or may not have known before. This was his Christmas. His birthday. His Best Day Ever.
This was the first year he's missed it. (We didn't even tell him about it. It's so hard to watch him grieve ...)
I didn't go either. After visiting him on Friday night I went out with my pentacostal friends, to eat seafood like a Catholic, on the deck of Monk MCQueen's in Vancouver, overlooking False Creek, watching the sunset on the ocean. It was lovely.
My sister was there though (at the MCC Fair). And she called me this afternoon, telling me that this was the year I should've made the effort. "So many people were remembering dad. And saying encouraging words. And being supportive. And giving hugs and love. It was just really good to be with mom and dad's friends." (Or something like that. I'm never good at remembering what someone said, word-for-word.)
Maybe next year I'll go. If I lose weight.
It was the Langley Annual Cruise In. (One of the ten largest car shows in North America - thousands of cars come into our little city and THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of people wander around looking at cars and saying 'hi' to each other.)
I haven't attended (ie, walked around looking at cars, saying hi to anyone) in years.
For out-of-towners, this event is about the cars.
For the locals; yeah, sure, it's partly about the cars - but it's also about seeing your neighbours. Bumping into old friends. Being social.
And like the MCC Fair, it's a little bit about belonging.
This is my town? These are my people? This is home?
When the boys were younger, I took them. Once. They all met up with friends and dashed off - and uh, walking around by yourself? Looking at cars? When everyone else in the whole entire world has someone to hold hands with? Sucks.
It's not enough just to belong to a community. There's also an ache to belong TO SOMEONE in that community. You don't want to be that person in a huge gathering that has no one. Or at least I don't. (Extroverts may jump at the opportunity to be unencumbered in a large crowd - "all these people!" "so many people to connect with!" "a new face every ten seconds!" "so many things to say, so many people to say them to!" "yay! No one hanging on to me, needing attention!") (I am not that person.)
Running into people when you're with someone ALWAYS feels better than running into someone when you're not.
So I make a point of finding something else to do on the second Saturday in September.
This year? On the second Saturday? (ie Today?)
I attended a funeral. In Tsawwasassween. (Spelling may be incorrect.)
Heather's mom's memorial service was this morning, and so I went.
It was not a Mennonite service. (Why would it be? They're not Menno ...) It was Anglican.
Heather and her sister made it real. The guy in robes made it sacred. A good mix, actually. And I loved that I got to know who Audrey Walmsey was through the eyes of her daughters. And, like another friend observed, it sure explains who Heather is.
As per usual, even though I wasn't asked, I acted like the designated cry-er for this event. I was happy to do so. It's my spiritual gift, which is best when exercised.
My dad was a funeral junky. I totally understand why.
After the funeral, I popped in to see my dad.
He's awfully congested. Awfully. His lungs are fine, but his chest and throat are thick with phlegm. He doesn't know what to do with it. Sorry if this is gross for you to read.
(Funny story: Julie said that when she was watching that 65th Birthday video with him the other day, he watched the first half hour (which was just a recording of his friends arriving and mingling, waiting for him) naming each person with confidence. And then, at that moment when he arrives, and everyone yells SURPRISE, and he walks up towards everyone with a huge smile on his face, he exclaimed to Jule, "I'M ALIVE!") Hahaha.
Anyway, about my dad. He was tired, so he lay in bed while mom and visited. His bed is lowered to the floor, so if he falls/rolls/thrusts himself out, he won't have far to fall. Mom and I sit on opposite sides of the bed and use it as a big footstool. He seemed OK with that. Everyone once in awhile she'd ask him what was new, or how he was doing, and he always answers with, "I love you." or "You're so beautiful." He locks his eyes on her; she is his safe place. His haven. He is at peace when she is at his side.
And she? Is soft and gentle with him. Patient and kind. Relaxed and beautiful.
It's a wonderful thing to be their daughter.
1. Thanks, friends, for driving my mom to The Fair.
2. Thanks, the rest of you, for your kind words to my mom and sister at The Fair. We are feeling the love.
3. Thanks, Heather, for caring for your mom these past 5 years, and honoring her so well today at her memorial service. You been a role model for me: re - a child's response when their parent is diagnosed with and suffers from dementia/Alzheimers.
4. Thanks, facebook friends, for playing Words with Friends with me tonight. This evening would have been dead boring if not for you.
5. I'm thankful that two of my friends got brand new granddaughters recently...