VALOIS, New York - I ended up needing a crutch to speak at Louise Schwartz's memorial service. Not because I was nervous about speaking in front of the 50 to 60 friends and relatives who attended.
No, it was because I twisted my knee the night while before dancing, twisted it so soundly that without the help of Louise's last walking stick, there is no way I would have stood unaided for more than a few moments.
I felt like a little old man standing up on the porch, offering my services and comments, but damned glad that Louise had used such a stout stick in her final year.
The day was as perfect as could be - just warm enough, just enough breeze that the bugs - normally a collosal pain in the ass - backed off to let people offer their favorite stories about my late mother-in-law without having to swat mosquitos at the same time. Lots of tears, but more good belly laughs.
At the party afterwards, all the stories that people didn't want to tell in front of the whole group came out, and then at nightfall, using a slide projector brought by Cousin Walt from Rochester (not for nothing has he worked for Kodak for years), we showed slides spanning about 30 years.
We did the show outside, the evening temperatures as nice as any described in a James Lee Burke novel.
But the bugs liked the slide show, too, and after about any hour (and applications of about a gallon of OFF), we retreated inside, the memorial over.