I said goodbye to an old friend yesterday. In some ways it was exactly what I thought it would be. Not much has changed in the funeral mass of the Catholic Church since the 2nd Vatican council approved the move to an English mass after all.
Other things (mostly people), surprised me. People who I never would have bet against making it were missing for a variety of reasons. People I don't remember having a kind words for Packy in High School were crying like it was their son and not Tom and Sally's first born that was taken much too young.
I understand no one knows what to say all the time at these things. I knew his mother just needed a lot of hugs, because she reached for one any time I was within arm's reach. She also needed to know she wasn't losing all contact with us just because he was gone. One thing I have come to realize over the years since high school is that there are some relationships that just ARE. I had not seen Sally in more than twenty years when I walked into that church yesterday, but the hug I received and the obvious thankfulness that I had made it there to be with the family didn't need explanation.
With his Dad, who had lost his firstborn son and with whom I should have been able to empathize, I know I came off sounding like a freshman on one of his intro to journalism classes. We had a strong student-teacher dynamic in school but it wasn't very deep or personal. Why is the first thing we ask "How are you doing?" Or "Are you ok?"???? Shouldn't we know the answers to those two questions without opening our mouths and looking like morons? We say them anyway, especially or maybe because we don't know what else to say when we know Ok is at a minimum weeks away, and there is still a lot of shock and grief for us all to work through before we can really know how we are coping with this loss.
On one side of the gymnasium we had a family clearly grieving. Sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles. Among them were a scattering of good friends that either now or at various times in the past felt like part of the family. We were standing around sharing stories about Patrick that made us laugh or cry. Often stories that needed to be protected and remembered but not amplified by the PA system. From this group came a stream of people to the microphone to share stories with a wider audience about the amazing and complex person who the world had lost.
On the other side of the room were a lot of Packy's former classmates, probably some friends and associates from work. Those who felt for whatever reason socially obligated to be there. They hit the buffet line, and milled around in the corner furthest from the PA so there was less chance anyone would ask them to say a few words.
We're all supposed to be adults now. All around forty (some much older) with lives, jobs, and many of us with kids of our own. Yet to hear half of the conversation my peers had today you would think they were still living in fraternity houses. The number of people talking about parties I threw in the early '90s shocked me, and some of the best parts were my knowledge that the guy talking was no where near my party that night. I hate to reduce myself to a variation on a pop culture reference that will be dated before most people read this post, but - Do you even funeral bro??
As things were winding down I was going to get together with some of the guys for some drinks and reality intruded. My daughter started texting me about power flickering and water dripping from the ceiling.
I get home and the dogs are barking, and product is waiting in boxes to be reviewed. I opened the first and it's candy, and in my mood that works great. It is a sample pack from a local confectionery we have reviewed before, The Candy Basket. This sampler contains Red Velvet Fudge, Pecan Rolls, and Divinity. All are done to perfection, and arrived fresh and soft to my door.. I can also confirm that they all pair well with both Teeling Irish Whiskey and Barterhouse 20yo Bourbon from the Orphan Barrel Collection that I also have sitting there needing to review. I know, I have a hard job sometimes.
The Teeling you've probably seen reviewed here before. It is by far my favorite everyday Irish Whiskey and for good reason. The sweetness it gains from its time in Caribbean rum casks truly set it apart.
The Barterhouse Orphan Barrel release is something that you don't find every day, and I am telling you right now, you better start looking. Several barrels were found in the back corner of an old rickhouse outside of Tullahoma, KY after sitting forgotten for almost twenty years. What begins on the nose as honey and biscuits along side faint hints of buttercream opens up into bold roasted grain, mellow toasted tobacco and marshmallow to compliment the subtle smoke from the barrel and finishes with hints of nutmeg and brown sugar. Never have I tasted a bourbon that was at once as complex and as smooth, especially after twenty some years in the barrel. I'm going to have to hunt some more down, because I don't want ever reach for this and find the bottle empty.
So, that was another day in Fat Boy Heaven. Sorry if it started a little bit too personal and uncomfortable. I've decided that the only way I can write is to actually engage my mind, that means sometimes the truth as I know it might hit your screen.
My love, prayers, condolences, and thanks go out to the Eichsteadt/Mitcheltree clan. We all shared in the joy and happiness Patrick brought into our lives, thank you again for allowing us to join you in saying goodbye.