Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Laughter Won

In the previous post, I waffled about whether today's family gathering on the anniversary of Doug's death would be one of tears or laughter.

It was a celebration, and I think we all in our own ways feel a little (or a lot) liberated by it.

The presence of very young children helped keep us focused on the future, and the positive, and the love, and the joy. Without that focus, whatcha got left but poopy diapers, anyway?

Parris snaps Adrianne and his granddaughter (Adrianne's niece) Kiana.

Instant gratification.

There were only 16 people at this little gathering. Here, the bunch gathers for a group portrait or two.

Table in the lower-left corner of the previous photo.

This table was the "workbench": a place where Adrianne had laid out tools for us all to add pictures and other memories to a scrapbook, and she had invited us all to bring whatever we wanted to add to it. The intent was to construct a tangible collection of words and pictures and memories of Grace's dad for her to keep close as she grows up and grows away from Doug. That will certainly be the lasting product of the effort, but its immediate product was a focussing of stories and joy and, yes, laughter from all of us about Doug. The scrapbook project provided a place of exuberance. I think we all felt a liberation from grief, and a permission to laugh. And we did. And we did. And we did.

Detail from the "workbench."

The man in the picture will be known to SherWords regulars; it is Grace's 12-th great grandfather. Well, one of the 4,096 of them, but the one through whom the Harrington name comes.

At the end of the gathering, we posed for group photos. (In a perhaps futile effort to not put too much personal information out there in so public a place as a blog, I'm going to not use last names in the identifications.) I took the first one:

Front and center: Adrianne
Arc behind Adrianne, left to right: Kathy (Adrianne's mom), Lynda (Adam's SO), Dierdre (Parris's wife), Parris (Doug's stepdad, his mother's second husband), Andrew (Lynda's son)
Third row, left to right: David (Reva's SO), Reva (Doug's half-sister, Parris's daughter), Kiana (David and Reva's daughter), Mike (bassist in Doug's band,
Defiance), Mike's daughter Angelina, Mike's wife Toni, Adam (Sherwood's son), Diane ("Mrs. Fort," Sherwood's spouse & keeper)
Toppermost of the Poppermost on Uncle Adam's shoulders: Grace the Magnificent.

There will be a quiz. Just be thankful that Doug's uncles and their progeny were too far away to participate.

... and one last group photo by Andrew, which proves that I was actually there. It will be left as an exercise for the reader to figure out which one I am. (Hint: many, many years ago, when Adam was a small boy, a friend of his once described a suspicious character in the neighborhood as being "real white, you know, like your dad.")

The T-shirts we're all wearing were Adam's inspired idea and gift to us all. He showed up with a big cardboard box full of them, all correctly sized (except for Diane's, for which he earned many, many positive points from her). They bear reproductions of a flyer for an early headline performance in a San Francisco club of Doug's band, Defiance, in the 80's.

Adam, Andrew, and Defiance tees.

Doug at Boulder Creek



ronnie said...

"Only" 16 people at this relatively modest gathering! I hope (I know) you realize how blessed Doug was, and how blessed you are, and how blessed Grace is (and will be).

I love, love, love, love, LOVE the scrapbook project idea. What a wonderful healthy way for people to work together to remember someone! What a treasure it will be for Grace!

Very well-done, as pretty much everything I've seen done by your amazing extended family is. I am sure Doug would be very proud of all of you, and you ought to be pretty proud of that.

Ronnie said...

Absolutely inspired way to spend that day - the scrapbook project is the icing on the cake! And I'm sure Doug IS very proud of you all.

Well done...


Anonymous said...

Well, that signature confused things - for some reason it has the two of us confused - I thought I at least had a capital "R" - sorry, in-the-middle-changing-jobs-ronnie. I'll try to be more careful about identification in the future. May stick to Sherwood's O' version.


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

The scrapbook is a perfect idea. And Sherwood, you have been Very Remiss -- we need a good close-up of that T-shirt so we can really see the design! Are those caricatures of the band members? The shirts were a great idea too!

Theriomorph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theriomorph said...

How lovely, and sad, and lovely again, and good. Thinking of you, Sherwood, and of your good family.

ronnie said...

I thot u had the capital R, too, O'Ronnie.

I would never confuse us. You are who I want to be when I grow up!

Brian Fies said...

A very nice and affecting account, thanks.

You should do more writing.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Thank you all for your thoughts and comments.

O'Ronnie, I never had you confused with anyone else! And I hope a lot more people than Mojo's ronnie grow up to be like you.

T'morph, it's good to see you here. And don't you wish that Blogger made it possible to correct a simple typo without resorting to removal and re-typing of the entire comment, leaving a mysterious "removed by the author" in the original's crater?

Okay, Ruth, here you go! As you see, the figures are little mohawk-do'd skeletons on skateboards. Jax is thoughtfully masking the last one (skeleton looking down a woman's shirt) with the shadow of his chin. This must have been a flyer from the very early eighties when the band was very, very young. Notice that the 'phone number has no area code.

Brian, thanks for the sentiment, but the thought of actually writing something gives me the willies. I'll continue the just put captions on pictures instead.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

8~) Great t-shirt, and my thanks to Jax for adding his wonderful face.

Nov 13th was a Thursday in 1980, and in 1986, if that helps!

chocolatepoint said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Sherwood.