Today was the day for making arrangements for Mom's funeral. My sisters, my brother, and I went to the funeral home and answered questions and made lists and brainstormed.

Then it was lunch at a Chinese buffet where, after the fortune cookies were cracked open and the fortunes read, we cracked up at one that was not like the others. Who writes these things?

Then to the attorney's office for attorney business. Papers shuffled, phone calls made. Look around the table, any questions? Nope, I'm good. Well then.

It was a cloudy, drizzly day. The sky was nearly dry, but still damp enough to wring out some drops that fell in bunches, before being hung back up. Driving from the attorney's, through the drizzle, music soaked the car's interior:

"Smile though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds, in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile, through your fear and sorrow
Smile, and there'll be tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through"

Obviously, it wasn't all fun and games, but we managed to smile. Quite a bit, actually.



The cancer came back. Cancer is never nice when it comes back. In her final days, the Lord dealt gently with Mom. And for all my days, the Lord was good to me through her. For these two gifts I am thankful.

In one of my last visits with Mom, in between her bouts of drowsiness, I got her to tell me about movie stars she liked. In a sleepy voice she said she liked Peter Lawford and "his gang". Now, I am no expert on Peter Lawford and I didn't exactly remember him having a gang. I asked who his gang was, though I had an inkling. "Oh, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin . . . ." she trailed off.  That's what I thought. It was the Rat Pack. I think most people would have suggested that the Rat Pack was Sinatra's gang, not Lawford's. No matter. I told her that I saw "Ocean's Eleven" and she told me she liked that one. Then she mentioned that they made "Ocean's Twelve", but it wasn't as good.  She said the sequels are never as good.

I have picked up the notion that Mom kind of had a thing for the swarthy, Italian types with flashing eyes. She liked the aforementioned Lawford and she liked singer Tony Bennett. One of her favorite baseball players was Joe Torre. In fact, she kind of made a big deal out of giving me her Joe Torre card a while back.

There was one decidedly un-Italian, un-swarthy type that she had a thing for, and this thing lasted for over 49 years of marriage, before Dad passed in 1999. And why not, given his excellent taste in sweaters? This picture is from their first year of marriage, outside of their first house in Ozark, about 1950. Their car is a '41 Ford.

I think these two kids were very much in love in those days and they remained loving and gentle toward each other for as long as Dad lived.

Here's Tony for Mom, one more time. Farewell and Godspeed, Mom.