Sunday, November 26, 2006

11/26 From Raleigh to Aurora

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.


Beata said...

Mom, thank you for letting us know how everything went. I was waiting for you to post with more excitement than ever! I am happy that the tree-trimming party turned out to be as a special memorial for Katy. I am sure it was what she wanted. Tell Frank, Karen, and Jim that we think of them and love them!

Jill and Todd said...

Thanks for keeping us all informed. I am glad to hear that the family still continued to celebrate Katy in such a special way.

Anonymous said...

Jer -- what a wonderful idea to hold the Christmas tree trimming party despite the sad tidings. A gift for everyone who knew Katy and a tribute to her. Just wonderful. Safe trip home, Jer.

Anonymous said...

Tim and I went to Aurora yesterday to attend the visitation. It was easy to see that Katy was a very special lady. Even in the first hour, there was such a crowd. We did not stay real long due to the number of people there, Jim, Karen and Frank were busy greeting everyone. We decided to stop by the house to see the Christmas decorations and the village. It was unbelievable-------it has to be experienced to believe it. I'm sure Katy had a smile on her face watching the trees go up. She would not have wanted it any other way. Your lives will never be the same without her but OH! the wonderful memories you will have.
You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Jerilyn Dufresne, author said...

Thanks to all of you. Frank, Karen, and Jim are so grateful for your kindness. I'm on a 56 K line right now, so can't write too much. Love to all, Jer (Jan, it was great seeing you yesterday.)(Nancie, I'll see you in DC next week. Yay!)