A day or so after the phonecall from Connie, I got an e-mail from one of my cousins: he'd be coming to Toronto. With his brother. Next day there was another. Then one from one of my step-cousins, a nephew of Con's who planned to come with his wife from California. Then something from another cousin, who would be bringing her mother, the last of my father's siblings.
So it went, and kept going. At last count, some sixteen people from both Con's family and Dad's will be here, including my husband and one of our sons. Sixteen people! We'd hoped for a handful.
A few days after Dad's death, Con and I organized a gathering for him here at Christie Gardens, the retirement home where they've lived for years. That had been so spontaneous–practically demanded by the many staff and residents who kept accosting Connie in the halls, asking when it would be–that there'd been no time even to alert family or friends outside this community. So we would need another time for family and close friends to gather. But Dad's work, into which he'd poured so much of his energy and passion, what of that?
These past few years, few people came to visit. Friends and colleagues dropped away as Dad's dementia deepened; even those in the organization he had helped found, Science for Peace, rarely came by. And the work he did at the university to set up an undergraduate program in peace studies and to establish a chair in that field would never, it seemed, be recognized.
A few months ago, it seemed that my father was going to fade away unremembered save by those of us who loved him most. Now we're wondering if the room reserved for the memorial is big enough.
That's been the experience, over and over in various ways, during the months of planning for this gathering at the University of Toronto.
On the phone a couple of weeks ago, my mother Connie told me that her sister had offered to take any family in town out to dinner. “Then I told her how many were coming—“
I'm in Toronto visiting my mother and getting ready for a major gathering at the University of Toronto to honor my father, so I won't be posting much this week. Still, I couldn't resist trying to describe yesterday's weather.