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A SEANACHIE CONVENTION
9 July, 2011
Sometime ago, I called Walt's cousin Ernie the family seanachie. For those who are not Irish, a seanachie (SHAWN-a-key) is a story teller. With his ready wit, his comfort in front of an audience, and seemingly inexhaustible supply of family stories, Ernie Baur easily has earned the title.
I was thinking about Ernie a lot today.
Betty's memorial service was being held in Menlo Park, about an hour south of San Francisco and next door to Betty's beloved Stanford University. I wore red. As a Cal person, I hated to do it (Cal and Stanford have been bitter rivals for years)a, but red is Stanford's color and it just seemed right. (Her own brother, a Cal graduate, wore blue. I teased him about it.)
To make sure I got to my mother's on time, I left the house at about 5:45 a.m., since you never know when you are going to hit rush hour traffic. I didn't and she was surprised to see me turn up at 7 a.m. We had coffee, visited, and finally left for the memorial at about 8:45.
The weather was weird today. Sunny in Davis but as I approached the Vaca mountains, there was a thick finger of fog that stretched all the way across the valley. Parts of the road were very, very thick fog, but as I got to my mother's, I was in sun again, and then getting to the Golden Gate Bridge, the city disappeared. Couldn't see the bridge until I was on it. Fog kept getting lighter and lighter as we traveled down the peninsula and it was sunny in Menlo park. Welcome to the San Francisco Bay Area weather!
We went into the church and there was a nice simple, tasteful set up on the altar, featuring Betty's Stanford graduation picture.
The service was very nice and included lots of memories of Betty, and a bagpiper who played both of the tear jerkers--Amazing Grace & Danny Boy.
After the service, we moved to the Westin Hotel for, as son Doug put it, "a good old Irish wake."
When we got to the hotel parking lot, shady spots were at a premium, but I did find one. I fit my car into the marked space but noted that the car next to me was hanging over the marked slot line. Just to be on the safe side, I took a picture of our two cars so that I could show how I parked and what his/her license was in case there was a problem. I laughed to my mother that it pays to be prepared and have a camera handy!
We went upstairs to the reception, where the bar was hosted and the food was plentiful and after everyone had enough of both in their stomachs, Doug offered a toast to Betty--and to his brother, who died of cancer 15 years ago today. Then he told more Betty stories and opened the floor for others to contribute.
First of all, it seemed like 3/4 of the people there were either McGlashans or Macys and were named either Doug, Bill, or Elizabeth. So it was a little difficult to keep them all straight. (Memories at the chuch were given by Bill Macy, Bill McGlashan, Doug McGlashen and OTHER Doug McGlashan.)
But worse is that they were all Irish and every single one of them knew how to craft a story and tell it with all the embellishments to get the biggest laugh. I've been to lots of funerals where a handful of people got up to stumble through a short remembrance of the departed, but in this room everybody had a remembrance and they were all long and all funny and all told with the talent of a professional seanache.
Which was great for the first hour. One story evoked another and that evoked another and then someone who had already spoken remembered something else. It really was great fun. but it also started to get very long, especially when facing >100 miles back home in rush hour traffic!
At the end of the day, I think Betty would have been thrilled that there were so many laughs and so many good memories. They were still sharing them when we left. We weren't the first to leave, but probably at least half of the original group was still there laughing at Betty stories when we said our goodbyes.
When we returned to the parking lot, I checked the side of the car and our brand new fender looked like this:
I didn't even notice until I was out on the road that both side mirrors had been flipped inward to the car (I don't have a clue why the driver side mirror was flipped) It's probably more trouble than it's worth to try to collect on this, but I have the guy's license number and I have the proof of the damage that was done. I wouldn't mind so much if we hadn't just had the entire back end of the car replaced after our fender bender in Santa Barbara, to the tune of $2,000 (which the other car's insurance paid).
And yes, we hit rush hour traffic. I assured my mother that this was nothing compared with what we'd seen in China. I actually don't mind sitting in stop and go traffic, as long as I don't have to do it every day, and as long as I have an audio book. Unfortunately, I couldn't be rude and listen to an audio book with my mother in the car, but she was much less chatty on the ride home than she had been on the way down, so I really was longing for the continuing adventures of Jack Reacher.
She invited me to stay for dinner, but it was still light out, so I declined and headed home, stopping at McDonald's for a quicker dinner. Hwy 37, which connects Hwys 101 and 80 was a parking lot and probably took twice as long as it should have, but with the audio book, I really didn't care.
It was nice knowing that I would not have an angry phone message from Mr. McCoy about dogs barking, since the phone is still out, but it wasn't quite so nice when I discovered I couldn't find my cell phone either, which meant I would be completely without a phone and couldn't call anybody to find if it had fallen out of my purse at the wake, because the contact numbers were in my cell phone!
But after a frantic search of my purse, the car and the house, I did find it. In the process, however, I discovered that our water cooler was leaking and there was water all over the floor. I had just replaced the water bottle and was frantically trying to find pots to put the water in, wondering how long it would take to empty a brand new 5 gallon bottle of water. Somehow while holding a pitcher under the spigot and wiping the floor with a towel under my feet, I managed to stop the leak and all seems to be OK now.
I think I'm going to call it a day and go to
PHOTO OF THE DAY