Speaking in front of an audience and, especially, at funerals is hard. And, frankly, it never occurred to me, in my frazzled state, that there would be an opportunity to speak at John's memorial today. So, as we sat there waiting, sometimes awkwardly, as people came up to say a few words, I was frantically racking my brain for a favorite story to share and kept drawing a blank. Until just as the minister was drawing to a close and the strains of the bagpiper at the back of the sanctuary began playing the first notes of "Amazing Grace" and I completely lost whatever vestiges of composure I had, I remembered this story...which is probably for the best.
It was Thanksgiving of 2012.
I decided I wasn't up to hosting the 5th annual Grotto Thanksgiving so, instead, a few of us Denhac-ians decided we should throw a Denhac Thanksgiving potluck. Everyone was invited - open to the public - I supplied the pies. Someone else, Sidragon, I think, wiped out his entire personal stash of single malt scotch and brought it over for our delightful consumption.
Acr0nym and TC, after stuffing themselves at the obligatory family get together, packed up TC's twin girls and his and Acr0nym's dad, John, and headed down to Denhac to join in the festivities.
Well. Turns out, John had a particular liking for two things: pie and single malt scotch, to which he helped himself to plenty.
As the evening progressed, normally quiet John became the life of the party. He entertained a number of us with several hilarious stories and jokes, his bright, blue eyes (so much like Acr0nym's) twinkling. He held a captive audience and it was clear we were all enjoying ourselves very much.
Until TC and Acr0nym realized their dad was on the slippery slope toward drunk.
And the consequences sunk in.
One of them was going to have to return their quite lit father to their feisty mother and have lots of explaining to do.
An argument ensued1.
TC: You take him home.
Acr0: No, YOU take him home. You brought him. He's your responsibility.
TC: But I have the twins and I'll have to go home and I'd rather stay here for awhile longer.
Acr0: Yes, but you're the oldest and she won't be mad at YOU.
TC: Oh she'll be plenty mad no matter who takes him home. You should take him home because you have to come back this way anyway to get home.
Acr0: But if you take him home, you'll be within a mile of your own house.
Back and forth and back and forth they went. Both afraid to take him home and both with valid-ish arguments.
Meanwhile, John headed back to the "bar" for more scotch.
Eventually, TC drew the short straw and poured his hilariously happy father into his car, much to both their chagrin.
I never did learn of the outcome of that fateful trip. If Evelyn was pissed, I never heard about it. Regardless of the consequences, it's my favorite memory of one of the kindest, generous, most gentle men I've ever known. A memory in which he shined so brightly and so happily and held us all enthrall with his tales.
Rest in peace, John. I'm sorry I never got the chance to bake a cherry pie for you, my biggest pie fan. You are already sorely missed by so many.
Jane, in my infinite wisdom
1: This is, to the best of my recollection, the actual argument. I'm sure I am grossly paraphrasing but, knowing TC and Acr0nym as I do, I can promise you it's about as accurate as an actual transcript would be.