What do you do when your 78-year-old father dies during a global pandemic where his peer group is most at risk? You postpone the funeral for 12 months and then party like it’s 1999! Or 2021. Really, any year other than 2020.
We started the celebration of life weekend with a mother/daughters visit to his fake gravesite (he was cremated and is now scattered in various places across the U.S, including — but not limited to — Garden City, S.C., and Pebble Beach, Calif.) to toast Dad with his beloved vodka. From there, we headed to the neighborhood steak joint to reminisce about our most favorite vacation antics (Tish falling slow-mo into a pool) and Christmas Eve skits (“Silence of the Lambs”).
Saturday saw a mass in Dad’s honor, complete with an honor guard of 30 judges; a retired priest who changed a prayer mid-read, muttering, “I don’t like that one;” a gospel singer who had everyone weeping with the most powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace” I’ve ever heard; and a touching eulogy given by one of Dad’s dearest friends. And I’d be remiss without mentioning that my four sisters and I stole the “show” with our introductory remarks about which of us was Dad’s favorite (it’s me, Emily, so back off!). More than 150 people joined us afterward at a reception to tell more stories of Dad, laugh at the photos that filled the space and enjoy some truly incredible deviled eggs.
Waiting a year for closure was hard, but it gave us all the space and courage to celebrate Dad in a way that he deserved – a party for the ages.