Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Beginning of The Gathering - Doug, Laura, Truike, Jan and Marty

People have begun to arrive for Don's memorial. I find it both comforting and a bit sad that this is how it goes. While it is wonderful to have so many family members gathering, I wish that Don could have been here to be part of it. When Eleanor (my mother-in-law) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a friend gave me one of the most useful pieces of advice I have ever received. She told me to take time away from work and life to spend special time with Eleanor while she still felt good enough to be herself. And so I did. I took time off work to take a day with Eleanor and each of our kids to have one-on-one time. In the case of Grandpa Don, we had tons of time with him and many of the people who are here now, or coming soon, did see him during his last year. But still, it would have been fun to have a family reunion, even when he was sick.

Still, I've already had fun and I've already cried more.

Doug and Laura arrived on Monday.

Truike and Jan arrived from the Netherlands on Tuesday. Truike had been one of the opares that had helped out Don and Eleanor when Rex and Doug were young. When Don and Eleanor went to meet Truike at the airport for the first time, Truike was carrying the copy of THE MISTS OF AVALON that she was in the middle of reading. Eleanor was reading the same book and their life long friendship began in an instant. Truike refers to them as her "Plastic Family" (Don was a plastics engineer). Truike was closer to them than she was to her own birth parents and so this is hard on them, too. Over the years Don, Eleanor, Doug, Laura, Truike and Jan vacationed together. Jan made films of each vacation. They are dubbed "The Montana Six." I would imagine that this will be the last time we see them in America. If they come again, they would most likely go to Seattle where Doug and Laura live.

Ethan picked up Uncle Marty yesterday. Uncle Marty had been a foreign correspondent for the New York Times in his twenties. He lived in England for a very short while with Don and Eleanor after he left Africa. Marty always tells the most entertaining stories.
Today we will begin packing up some of the stuff that each of the brothers has inherited. We will also get ready for the inurnment (putting Don's ashes in the wall, next to Eleanor's) and the military honoring that goes along with that. Later today more family members will arrive. We will likely have a night of family movies. Truike and Laura are making dinner for everyone.

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