|Got cleaned up. I had been told that I
was to dress up for the memorial. And to all my friends
and family that meant tie dye. Jeans and black Converse
high tops. The spiral tie dye t-shirt had been bought for
a band fund raiser. Katie had picked it out for me. The
tie dye tie had been made by Wendy. It was a Japanese
type of tie dye called shibori. The vest was also shibori
but the fabric had come from Japan. The jacket was a Navy
First Class Petty Officer's blazer. 12 years of good
behavior. Years ago I had gone through a period of
creative sock wearing. I would never wear matching socks.
Diane had requested mismatched socks. So, 1 white sock
and 1 red sock.
I drove over to Bellevue to pick up Michael's ashes. I played a Phish bootleg. I figured that the tape would end about the time I got to Bellevue. That tape ended with "Divided Sky" which has one of the most achingly beautiful melodies in the middle of it. I wanted to hear it before picking up Michael. That melody is for you Mike.
Found the place to pick up Michael's ashes. It was
just an office in a suite of offices. A room with a
cabinet full of urns and a table surrounded by chairs.
Dark wood with gold colored trim. The wallpaper was dark
green and light green stripes. A turn of the century
overly ornate but somber feel. The young man waiting for
me was wearing a light colored slightly baggy suit that
did not fit him well. Michael would not have approved.
Michael's ashes were sitting on the table in a brown
plastic box 4 1/2" by 6 1/2" by 8 1/2"
tall. On the top was a label with his name: Michael
It was getting dark on the way over to Mom's for the memorial. Light rain. Michael's ashes in the center of the back seat.
When I got to Mom's I put Michael's ashes in the front seat. I patted the box. "I'll be right back." I know it seems foolish to be talking to a plastic box that is full of ashes. Even though this was not really Michael it was all that was left of him. He was still my little brother and I was looking out after him.
The Chaplain was there and the family was arriving. People moving in and out taking flowers, food, candles down to the recreation hall. I told them I had Michael's ashes. The response told me not to bring them in. I talked to the Chaplain and gave him the eulogy I wanted him to read. We talked about Michael. He was bald and in his late fifties but was cool. He talked about spending time in hippie communes in Oregon in the seventies. Even though they lived an unorthodox life they were concerned with community and with caring for others. "God judges by what is in the heart."
Steve, a friend of Mike's from the seventies now living in Sacramento, called asking directions. He was near by. When we had called him initially he said he couldn't come. He called the next day to say he couldn't not come.
Left to go down to the recreation hall. It was dark. Looked into the front seat at Michael's ashes. "You'll have to stay here tonight. You'll be all right." The rain had stopped and the street lights in the trailer court reflected off the wet pavement.
Joshua and Roger's son, Adam, were directing traffic. Women bustling around setting up food. My brothers had set up the chairs and tables and had gone back to Mom's to get changed. In the front of the room were tables with flowers and pictures of Michael. A Frisbee hung in the center of the wall. Friends and family arrived. Some I hadn't seen in years. Some I had never seen. The guitar of Andre Segovia in the background. A swirl of people, voices, tears and hugs. Candi and my kids finally arrived. Everyone was here. The Chaplain started.
I don't remember all of what the Chaplain said. He
sort of rambled on. But it was obvious that he was taken
with what was going on. He said "I can see that
there are a lot of stories up here." He asked about
the Coca-Cola can in front of one of Michael's pictures.
Everyone laughed. Michael loved his Coke. And only
Classic would do. It was a joke with everyone that knew
him. He read my eulogy. He sort
of added to it here and there but that was OK.