Monday, September 07, 2009

Bittersweet


First of all my congratulations and thanks to Duke. I don't know if he did this intentionally, but he ensured that my neuroses would not prevent the tale I am about to recall to you. Back in June, as I related here Patrick Schrantz, aka Lord Parlan left this world. This weekend past, at an SCA event primarily held to crown the new king and queen, a memorial was planned for Parlan. Just over a week ago Duke contacted me and gave me the task of taking the audio from two of Pat's favorite old cassettes and making them into a CD to play at the memorial. This I did gladly, if with no small degree of sadness. The files were very rough, and it took enough time to clean them up that it was too late for me to back out and email them when my inner demons started trying to convince me not to make the trip. They always do this. I start thinking about all the people I won't know, or the gas and/or wear and tear the car will incur, or even what the restroom facilities will be like. Anything to talk myself out of leaving the house and interacting with 'real' people. But, since the only way to get the music there was to deliver it personally I was cornered. And I'm glad I was.

The event was two hours away, and the drive was uneventful. I went alone as my wife is trying to get time off for the end of the month for the 30th anniversary of our home SCA group. I brought our small tent, and just after setting it up under a tree out of the way I was found by my brother Rurik who insisted I camp with his household. An offer I gladly took. The rest of the afternoon was spent in pleasant conversation with friends old and new, and then finally finding Duke. One of the ways to spot older SCA folks is that if they have nothing to do in court(when the king and queen hear the populace, give out awards, etc.) they don't go. And this was no exception. Duke gathered his friend Kurn, his daughter, and me and we went to a nice little sports bar and grill for dinner, conversation, and to watch the Gators steamroll over some other team who's name is irrelevant. After dinner, and many Dr. Horrible songs, we returned to the campground to prepare for the memorial. Duke had set up a pavilion with a very nice display of pictures and artifacts from Pat's life, and there was a book to sign for his wife. I must say that Seannach, his wife, was the picture of poise that night...a night that had to be hardest on her. And while she did let the tears flow a few times, for the most part she wore a brave smile.

Duke had brought a keg of Newcastle Brown Ale, and insisted that no one could go home til it floated.(or, at one point in the evening, that it couldn't float until he went to bed, but I don't think the keg was listening) So being nothing if not obedient we all made many trips to the tap. Eventually Seannach requested that we all gather around the fire pit. It was a large circle of at least twenty people, but as folks kept coming and going the numbers are a bit vague. Seannach stood and held up a bottle of Glen Fiddich with about three fingers left in it. This was Pat's favorite tipple, and we were to take the bottle, tell a tale, toast our fallen friend, and pass it along til it was empty. This we did. Many people did. We all spoke of our friend, our companion, our helper. Everyone talked of his omnipresent smile, and his unmatched gentleness and chivalry. There were songs, and laughter, and many tears. That bottle lasted at least two hours, with people who had met him only once every bit as moved as those of us that had known him for most of our lives. A lot of drinking happened that night, but despite so many people being so drunk, it never got out of hand. The level of respect for Pat was such that even those that were stumbling drunk stayed civil and quiet. As I said to Duke at one point, it was a great party, it's just too bad the guest of honor couldn't be there. Eventually the keg obliged us by floating, and following a final round of hugs and tears we staggered to our beds.

A couple of hours later the sun rose, as did I, and I quietly snuck out of the cabin Duke had graciously allowed me to share, packed up my stuff, and headed home as the child was unattended and I hoped to get back before she woke. As I drove, quaffing gas station coffee and eating pre-packaged pastries, I realized that as much as I dreaded going to this event, I am so glad that I did. If there is, indeed, something beyond the veil, and we are privy to the actions of those we leave behind, then Pat must surely have been basking in the warmth of the love and joy he fostered, and the togetherness that those who loved him felt in the memory of that love. Surely there can be no finer legacy for any man than that.

Fare thee well, my friend. May we meet again and share the tales of our travels.


11 comments:

flurrious said...

It sounds like a nice way to celebrate your friend's life. If Patrick knows, I'm sure he's pleased, even though you drank his good single-malt without him.

rosebuckle said...

Ah, the comfort of friends.

Alysoun said...

I noticed that there was a lot more smiling than there was crying...at least in public...that was a Good Thing.

Monkey said...

Sending love your way!

Duke said...

It was an emotional night, but I am very glad you were there to share it. The pain would have been too much without the company of so many friends. A slight correction though, I merely supplied the tent and a table, the pictures, poster, memorabilia, and candles where Seannach and Melisande's doing.

Marius said...

flurrious: Indeed it was, and we can hope.(and it's his own fault for leaving it where we could find it.) ;-)

rosebuckle: Yea, verily.

Alysoun: It truly was a celebration of the joy he brought us all.

Monkey: Thank you, my friend.

Duke: I am very glad that I was there. It is so good that we can still be there for each other in the bad times as well as the good. And sorry about my inaccuracies. It was still a beautiful display. And all four of us, Steve and I, appreciated it. ;-)

weathereye said...

This was a beautiful piece of writing, and says a lot about why Patrick chose the friends he did.

Stinkypaw said...

Beautiful and a very nice way to celebrate your friend's life. The prayer (looks like a memorial card) is beautiful, words we should all remember.

Happy you went and paid tribute to your friend.

Turtle said...

Well, old friend... I, for one, am glad that you were there. It was a sad, yet joyous occasion, and a much needed catharsis. I can't imagine having spent it without you.

You need to kick your neurosis in it's little butt, 'cause we need to see more of you.

celebhith said...

I didn't even know him, but the beautiful poem beneath his picture brought tears to my eyes. One hell of a guy, it seems. I offer you my love and support in your time of grieving. I'm so glad that you went to honor your friend.

Tony Pucci said...

In 2000, I lost a son, Charlie. For months I was worthless to the world. And then one day, as if it was the most brief of Star Trek timeshifts, I could sense him in the room with me. A voice appeared in my head and said, "Don't be sad, Daddy, those time when you think about me are the times I'm allowed to come and visit you."

It gave me belief and comfort. And has helped me these past few years.

Your friend was there, I'm sure of it, enjoying the night along with you all.