Funerals and Abandoned Books

My sister, Paula, asked me if I’d go to a funeral here in Venice. Her former boss had died last month–way too young, 69 (yes 69 is young) –of some rare cancer.  Paula couldn’t go and so she hoped I’d go and represent her.  He was a fabulous boss, wonderful mentor and terrific guy. So I went.  And I’m sitting there waiting for the memorial service to begin when the guy next to me says, “So do you live in Plantation (the golf, country club community where Lee had lived)?

No, I say, I don’t.

So how you know Lee? he says.

Well, I don’t, I say and before I can say any more, he says in disbelief, “Do you just make the rounds of funerals here in town?”

Right, says I.  If there’s nothing else to do.  Retirement can get pretty boring.  But then I went on to explain why I was there.

And it was a lovely service. All three of Lee’s kids spoke and all I could think was, “Lord, if my own kids can say even half that much about me, I’d be ecstatic.”  He was a good man, a kind man, an accomplished man..the smartest guy in the room, said his son.  The nicest guy in the room, said his daughter.  He could listen.  He never judged. He liked people.  He loved life.  I’m telling you, my friends, Lee Williams’ eulogy is the one we all hope to have. I stopped to talk to his wife, Cindy, afterwards…lovely woman, my age…She’s going to miss this guy.

All in all, it was  nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Dad and Annette spent it by the pool; Jerry worked out at the Y and then joined them by the pool and I went to a funeral.

Two abandoned books….I used to think that if I started a book, I should finish it.  But not any more.  There are too many good books out there to waste time on things I don’t love….First, I gave The Book of Strange New Things a good try (sorry Barry)  I had heard it was good and it did have an interesting premise.   A guy believes he is called by God to be a missionary to a planet called Oasis.  So he goes there (from Cape Canaveral) to preach. Meanwhile, his wife is left behind in England.  Evidently, all hell breaks loose on earth…what a mess.  Tsunamis, plagues, food shortages…Sounds interesting but it was moving too slowly.  I just couldn’t stay with it.  I’m going to start something else tonight.

The other…The Girl on the Train…is a runaway best seller but after listening to it for about an hour, I decided I couldn’t put myself through it.  The first narrator (I think there are three) is a divorcee who has lost her job but still takes the train into London every day so that her roommate/landlord won’t know she is unemployed.  She is seriously overweight and drinks way too much and sometimes, when she’s very drunk, calls her ex-husband (remarried with a child) to tell him she needs him and wants him back.  Not my kind of book.  I quit.  I know it gets interesting but I can’t slog through it.

I did read a beautiful book…The Book of Unknown Americans.   It’s about new immigrants to the US and what their lives are like.  The narrators all live in the same tenement house in Delaware (I think).  The focus is a family from Mexico with a daughter who has a traumatic brain injury.  They moved to the US to get help for her.  This was a good one.

Our book club had a guest speaker this week…a young woman from a group called Selah Freedom.  This group helps young women who have been victims of human trafficking in the Sarasota area.  Surprise, surprise…there are LOTS of young women in the area who are being trafficked…young American girls who get sucked into prostitution and can’t find a way out. And Florida is #3 in the nation for human trafficking in the US.  And the Sarasota/Bradenton area is #2 in Florida.  It makes me sick.

Anyway, I just filled out the paperwork to volunteer.  They’re looking for volunteers in lots of different areas but I figure I could help with grants writing, public speaking, tutoring…something like that.  Some volunteers are teaching knitting or sewing or cooking or even how to make a bed.  People are helping set up safe houses, find funding, etc.  I had an idea that we need to connect with schools.  Kids usually start at age 12-14.  We probably need to do something with fifth and sixth graders in terms of prevention.  So much to be done…so little time.

Dad and Annette are here.  Honestly, my dad is 92 and doing so well.  We walked the beach today and he did just great (stopped halfway to rest and made a new friend while Annette and I continued down the beach)  We’re glad to have them around.  They are so incredibly appreciative of everything …even meals that are just leftovers reheated and jazzed up a bit with a little wine in the gravy and some sautéed mushrooms.

The photos below are from Calli’s seventh birthday party.  Neat little “walker” for new skaters, huh?  Never saw one of those before.  And these little Texans are huge Patriots fans…wore their jerseys to school the day after Super Bowl (right in the middle of Dallas Cowboy country)   Everyone had been in a football pool run by the guy who lives across the street from them and wonder of wonders, Lana won. She won a LOT of money, most of which is going into a college fund.  Anyway, we had two reasons to cheer on the Patriots…they’re our team and Lana was going to win big. Exciting night for all the Ginleys.


Calli and friend on skates

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Declan and his “walker”


8 thoughts on “Funerals and Abandoned Books

  1. When I worked with hospice I went to many funerals. They were often bitter-sweet, touching me deeply. Sharing the experience with a family was an intimate, enriching experience—a privilege.

  2. You live life with such passion adding joy, committment and compassion wherever you go. Some people look the other way, others, like you, never stop believing in and working to help others. Not that I’m thinking a eulogy will be written anytime soon for you, Mary, but the positive qualities and talents you possess may be immeasurable.

    By the way, I am flying through “Five Days Left” which leaves me constantly speculating on how the stories of Mara and Scott will resolve. If I hadn’t recommended, “The Orphan Train”, it has become my new favorite book. When 17 year old Molly has to complete community service by helping 91 year old Vivian go through all her belongings and clean out her attic, the story of the elder woman’s struggles, beginning as an orphan sent west on a train, is revealed like a patchwork or puzzle. It is brilliantly composed and beautifully written. Just think, in less than a week, I get to talk with you in person. Sending hugs in advance.

  3. But all is not lost, I was mentioned by name in my favorite blog! Ok, another one, if you give me another chance. The Martian by Andy Weir….favorite book in long time. Just a fun book to read. Currently reading Unbroken and throughly enjoying it. I also had fun writing something for an absolutely wonderful little girl.

  4. Sure not my idea of a nice Sat. But it was very kind of you to substitute for your sister! Think I would’ve rather been in the pool! Kudos to you!
    Volunteer work sounds very needed…I’m sure they’ll love to meet you!
    Congrats to Calli…I bet the Patriots are now her favorite team and rightly so!
    Missed you at the turtle meeting about Kemp Ridleys…was very interesting!
    Have a great Sunday my friend. Pam

  5. You are amazing…already signed up for Selah Freedom! Go, Mary!
    Love the roller skating pictures! Declan with his walker made me laugh out loud…what a great idea!

  6. Interesting that you didn’t like Girl On a Train. Two people at school told me on the next snow day (TODAY!) I should download it and read it- it would be a great distraction from the fact that we’ll be going to school forever~ but I’m in the middle of another book for book club, and with your recommendation, I think I’ll wait. See you next week! Yippee!

  7. Deirdre Christman

    How lovely for the Williams family that you came to Lee’s funeral. They must have seen how much Lee meant to your sister for her to ask you to honor him by attending. I actually met Lee and Cindy at Plantation because they are/were good friends of Jeanne and Tom Brophy. Lovely people!

    As I’ve said before,no grass grows under your feet! You’re already signed up to volunteer for Selah Freedom?!!! When I get my act together, I’ll offer some portrait photography. Maybe one of the women needs a photo for a job interview, or whatever.

    The Book of Unknown Americans – I’d heard of it and will have to put it on my list. I’m halfway finished with Sweetand, which I think you’d love. Quiet, but full of heart!

  8. Hi Mary, I enjoyed Girl on a Train, funny, because usually we like the same books! I just thought it kept you guessing after every chapter about what really happened-a page turner for me. I finished A Man Named Ove, and thank you for the recomendation-loved it! Was great how all of the characters entwined, and of course Ove was wonderful! Happy Reading!

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