We just had a big weekend dedicated to the life of my son’s friend Dan, who died too young.
My son and wife already attended his ceremony in Virginia, but since Dan grew up here and attended high school here, and we had so many friends from California, we had another celebration in the yard.
The family gathered from everywhere.
His widow is from Virginia, a daughter living in Tennessee, a married daughter with four children is from Washington, and his betrothed son and his fiancée are from St. Louis.
Dan was a fun-loving man who made great strides in business. He was President of Palos Verdes High School in 1976. He kept all his old friends and made many new ones. Dan flew from the East Coast to the Peninsula whenever a friend needed a favor. And he was always welcome when he appeared.
Our family was delighted to have our youngest member come to celebrate Dan’s life from Manhattan. All we were missing was a daughter who was to give a Zoom lesson in Northern California.
The sun shone on our efforts.
We gathered around a wisteria-covered arbor and heard Dan’s friends talk about times gone by. I was very pleased when several men told me that they enjoyed the welcome they always received in our home from my husband and me when they were young.
After speeches and prayers, we were offered “dan-hattans” in memory of Dan. I found that I don’t like Manhattan people any more now than I did when I was young … which is not at all the case.
The yard was filled with tables and umbrellas. Catering offered ceviche and tacos with all sorts of additives. Tasty. There was also a display of fruits of immense beauty beyond description.
The people grouped and regrouped. They found connections they had forgotten about and made new friends.
One person came from Utah.
He and I recalled the days when his family lived across the street from ours. His mother loved healthy food and baked bread herself. I was a working mom who bought convenience foods to rush three school lunches.
The kids on the other side of the road were delighted with our refrigerator, which was full of wonderful bread, caramel and all the unhealthy stuff I could find in Safeway. So fun to remember!
But, of course, behind the chatter, food and fun is the fact that Dan is no longer in middle age. He had so many unfinished business – career, family and entertainment.
I’m getting used to people my age leaving the stage, but it’s hard for me to comprehend the departure of a person who has so much to live for.
His family is getting married and my son and wife were planning to tour Maine with Dan and his wife this September. I dug a road to Great Cranberry Island, where my mother had a small house for many years. When I received the bad news, I also had indirect pleasure in the thought of eating a lobster and swimming in icy water.
Ave atque vale, Dan, hello and goodbye. We treasured your friendship, humor and your kindness. We will remember them.