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A First Class Affair

The oddest thing happened Friday afternoon. While getting ready for the evening, I looked out our bedroom window and saw Maria, our next door neighbor, pacing in front of the house on her mobile phone. So?, you ask. Although we thought the world of Matt, not all of our neighbors did. I'm thinking in particular about two grumpy guys who live in our cul-de-sac who thought he was sort of crazy. Aren't we all?

Anyway, they came to that conclusion because, more often than not, Matt could be seen pacing up and down the street that runs in front of our house, talking loudly, and gesturing wildly, while on his mobile phone. We knew it was because he needed better phone reception, not to mention his hearing was impaired from his first bout of cancer, but they didn't bother to find that out. A reminder to not base our opinions on only what we see. But, if you're reading this, you already know this, don't you?

Well, the dinner was nothing less than what we would have expected from the Princess. First class all the way! It was such a pleasure to meet Angela's oldest friend, Penny, who flew over from the UK. Windsor to be exact.
That is her on the left holding a G+T. Sue, on the right, worked with Angela for many years when they were both district managers for the fabric and crafts store, Jo-Ann's. According to Penny, when they met, while attending college in Leeds, Angela had loads of admirers. And, she still does, if the plethora of friends in attendance is any indication.

It won't surprise most of you that I could not contain myself when it came time to talk about Matt. Seriously, I don't remember most of what I said, but, in spite of the instructions for no tears, they flowed anyway. In fact, I may have made a bit of a fool of myself, but I'm pretty confidant that Matt would not have been offended. There were little speeches by a variety of friends and colleagues, many about Matt's days as a Marine. Justin, his oldest Marine buddy, put together a wonderful slide show of photos including a bunch from the wedding vow renewal held in early May. You may recall my role as photographer and videographer that day. Before the actual service on Saturday morning, the same video played, set to music. Wow--the power of photography! He concluded the presentation with this photo...
I'll tell you what, Angela's son Michael was the best. All grown up and steady as a rock for his Mom.
Following the delicious dinner and testimonials, Angela concluded the evening wearing, as did most of the speakers, a crazy smoking jacket Matt bought in maybe Thailand when he was a young marine.
I mentioned everything was first class, and it sure was. Cassandra, a friend and calligrapher, did all of the invitations, a scroll with some of Matt's favorite Bible verses, place cards, and more. Everyone left in as good a mood as could be expected.

It is a darn good thing Regina did not attend the funeral because it would have been way too much for her. Firstly, her daughter Kate's funeral was held in the very same church just a few years ago. A reminder, she was just 44 years old. Secondly, concluding the church service, was a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace." That would have sent her over the edge, as a bagpiper played at her husband's funeral. He, was a Scotsman. Too much, too soon.
The flag draped coffin...Matt's mom, Trish is beside it.
The pastor, Matt's hospice chaplain is pictured walking; he did a wonderful job. To lighten this post up just a wee bit, I'll remind you of a funeral I attended, maybe five years ago, for one of our elderly neighbors. During the service, several colleagues gave glowing testimonials which seemed to be in line with how we viewed said neighbor. An upstanding citizen, if you will. Then the big moment of drama began when his eldest son stood at the pulpit railing, and I mean railing, about his Dad. Not for a moment or two--more like 15 minutes of pure meanness. The congregation sat in shocked silence. I've always felt really bad for the Pastor who had to resume the service as if nothing happened!

Following the lovely service, a reception was held in the adjacent Fellowship hall which is painted very colorfully as you shall see.
And there you see the colors, AND Matt with hair!! Angela wanted some photos made poster sized and mounted on foam core. Turns out it was another brilliant idea, and we can thank our friends at RT-Art for making it happen. Specifically Kevin who took the old photos and did what young men who use Photoshop do.

So, it was a collaborative affair. Another friend, Nancy, who only moved back from Dallas weeks ago, arranged for both the dinner and the after-funeral reception. Here's Angela greeting her at the door.
Once again, everything was done beautifully. According to Angela, she told the caterers that her husband was a foodie, so there would be no expense spared on the food. So, that was that. Matt will be buried this fall at Arlington Cemetery, so in fact, it is not all over just yet. One of the men giving a eulogy during the funeral service was Matt's first commanding officer who is now a retired Four Star General. Even he could not believe that they were still in touch after all these years. That was kind of the effect Matt had on folks.

As we were making our way to the restroom in the church we cut through a pew and here's what we found.
A bear that cares is the tag....when Matt had his brain surgery 18 months ago, the gift I brought to him was a stuffed bear!

There are no coincidences in life.....

Off to the market and hoping for a dry day,

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