My heart was full of love as I drove to West Brookfield. So much so, I needed to give some of it away. It would be a bit of a drive on unfamiliar country roads but two of my friends had recently lost their father. I had to be there. I watched the clock the whole time, wishing I’d left earlier. I’d be lucky to get there for the start of their parent’s celebration. By the time I reached Brookfield, I was running out of time. I decided to “let go” and once I did, Route 9 opened to the next town center and the church was right in front of me. There was only two minutes to spare.
When I opened the door of the Congregational church, happy and joyous sounds met my ears. People were talking and taking care of one another. The smiling grandchildren greeted me at the door with a program. The family was at the back of the church to welcome their guests. It was like going home. It was easy to be there and hugging my friends in a difficult circumstance was even easier. My girlfriend walked me to a pew with some of our fellow friends. The ceremony started just a moment later. It was a beautiful Mass from the co-celebrants to the music selections. I always learn a few things about life and religion at funerals. As I listened to the minister, I realized I hadn’t been alone on my drive; the Holy Spirit is my constant companion. When the organ started again, I also learned the Reverend had some pipes! I didn’t hesitate to tell him exactly that later in the day.
The luncheon that followed was served by the ladies of the church. They supported the family and made it a very personal community event. The atmosphere was what it should be. Not sad but rather a celebration of life. While food always brings people together, love was already in the air. We made our way to the back of the buffet line and watched a full room of family and friends engage in memories and fellowship.
As I poured punch for myself and two other friends, they realized there wasn’t any more room for us to sit together. The ladies also noticed and quickly pulled out a card table and set it up at the back of the room. Our friend Amy joined us and we were happy to have some individual time with her. Once we’d eaten and people came along to say their good-byes to Amy, they also joked about us eating at ‘the kid’s table’.
We gave Amy back to her guests and I went to say good-bye to her sister. I also left my regards at the dessert table and then met my friends back at Herb’s memorial display. We knew he’d only lost his wife the year prior and only received his WWII medals the week before his death. Pictures of the happy couple and some of their earlier days were posted for view. A book of Herb’s time in the navy, from his government papers to his letters home, was also part of his tribute. Amy came over and told us a few stories about her father as the afternoon winded down. It was an honor.
What I also found admirable was that, despite her last couple of weeks and the strains of the day, Amy was sure to let me know about some cute little shops in town before I headed home. With all she had to think about, she also personalized my departure. I’d watched everyone support the family and now Amy was taking care of me. I love that girl.
I decided to honor Amy’s thoughtfulness and find the shops she mentioned. Starting out, I didn’t see the bead shop a few doors down. However, I did find the Rusty Rooster. While the shop was modern and upbeat, it was too primitive for my taste. I continued to drive West looking for the beaded lady. I knew I’d gone too far and looked for a place to turn around. I decided on the book store parking lot. I pulled into the vintage “Book Bear” and decided this old lady would attack the volumes. It was book resale on steroids! I didn’t know where to start. I couldn’t even tell you how long I was there. I found items for my own collections and some priced well enough to leave a margin for resale. The owner even let me into the back room. He rang up my sales and I was the definition of ‘happy to be on my way’.
As I doubled back into town, I could see the darkened bead shop ahead. However, I also saw an awning for ‘The Troubador’. A shop referencing folk songs and courtly love seemed to suit the day, so I went there too. I found just one small item but a wealth of ideas for my own booth. I met the owner and we talked long enough for me to learn the bead shop was closed.
Happy with our conversation and my purchase, I climbed back into my car with a smile on my face. It head been a great day. I stopped at the last light to leave West Brookfield. My car was full of resale items I love but I wouldn’t be giving them away!