Rob and Beata drove me to the airport in Raleigh. I had them use my car since it had been sitting for two weeks. The ride was relaxing and enjoyable.
The trip to Chicago was uneventful which is about the best thing you can say. I did Sudoku and also read, so the time passed fairly quickly. When I arrived I took a limo to Aurora. Jim said it was about the cheapest way to get there, because no one was available to pick me up after all.
They sure had a good excuse. Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Jim, Karen, Frank, and Katy had a tree trimming party. They live in a HUGE house and each year the number of trees grows. Some of them are very small and some are large. The biggest is in the living room which has a high ceiling—15 feet or so. This year there are 34 trees. Because this was one of Katy’s favorite days, Frank insisted they have the tree trimming party. Jim and Karen thought it might not be a good idea, but of course went along with it. And they are so happy they did.
It turned into a celebration of Katy—a pre-wake, as it were. About 40 people helped decorate, and also ate and drank. It was a great party…lots of work, lots of fun, and lots of crying.
Later, only two friends remained. Ray and Ginger sat at the kitchen table with Frank, Jim, Karen, and me. The reminiscing and the smiles/tears continued. Karen read the obituary, which took up an entire column in the newspaper. I learned some things about Katy, but none of them surprised me. She’s so loved. Even Dennis Hastert, who was the Speaker of the House, counts her as a friend. Whenever he was at an event that Katy was at he’d be sure to make a beeline for her.
I figured something out last night. Katie was a teacher for 38 years and had approximately 150 students per year. That means she taught about 5700 kids, not even counting those she touched in the hallways and cafeteria. Wow.
The visitation is today—from 2-9. The extended hours are because they know there’s going to be a crowd.
I’m writing from the kitchen table, and everyone else is still asleep. I went to bed around midnight and left the rest of them still talking. Soon I’ll go up to Panera Bread (thankfully, it’s close), and upload the blog.