We're back from Lynchburg.
It was great seeing my parents again but also very strange. The last time I was in Lynchburg was for a mini-reunion with some highschool chums and Mike heard we were going to be there and came up too. That was the last time I saw him before he died. That thought occured to me as we pulled into the driveway and it hit hard.
There were so many reminders of Mike around. I won't lie. It's getting slightly easier. That sounds horrible but it's true. There were times, like when I first went into Mike's old room, now the guest room, that I would immediately start crying. But it's getting easier to fight back the tears when they come, unbidden and at the slightest provocation.
The service itself was tough but I got to see some folks I haven't seen in a long time and that was good. My old bosses from "Your Video Place" (Yes, I was once a video store clerk.) came by and they were a sight for sore eyes. My friend Billy was also there. Plus dozens of relatives I haven't seen in ages. Mike's friend Paul Rogers, who was at the Durham service, attended and also spoke.
Best of all, Mike's good friend from high school, Greg Fairchild was there. Greg missed the Durham service because he only had my work number and couldn't reach me in the week after Mike's death. But I got word to him about the Lynchburg service and he showed up and was the best-dressed man in the room. Damn, Greg can wear a suit. (As they say in 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN, "Does that make me gay?") After graduation, Greg went on to become a professor of economics at UVA's Darden School of Business. He told us how he ran into Mike in Chapel Hill a few months earlier and immediately recognized him. They chatted for a while and caught up and talked about old times. Looking back, Greg realized he was given a chance to say goodbye. I like that. We asked Greg to say a few words and he nervously accepted. He told a lot of great stories about when he used to hang out with Mike (Turns out Mike could really cut a rug...) and really lightened the mood. My parents were so glad to see him and so was I. It was a short service and not as emotional as its Durham counterpart. The funny part was when I realized that Dad had stuck one of my drawings on the board with Mike's work. I told him this and he replied, "Who cares? Nobody will know the difference." But the drawing was so bad, I kept thinking, "Poor Mike. They're going to think he did that!"
We spent most of today with Mom and Dad talking and laughing and, for once, we were able to tell good Mike stories without tearing up. Well, mostly. We left after lunch and took the scenic route up 29 North, through Charlottesville. It's beautiful up there and we were looking forward to it. On the way, we both needed a pit stop, so we stopped at a rest area about 30 miles from home.
I was facing the wall, taking care of business when I man stepped up to the urinal next to me. He suddenly cracked off a loud fart that made me jump and exclaimed, "WOAH!! Testify!!!"
I had one of those laughing fits where your whole body starts shaking and you have to throw your head back but I was trying not to let him hear me so it came out in big hisses. Fortunately, I was almost done because I would have peed all over the wall. When we got back to the car, I told Suzanne and she almost wrecked the car she was laughing so hard. Damn, we needed that.
When we got home, I discovered that Mike wasn't the only Wieringo brother with great friends. While I was gone, and they must have been planning this for some time, three of my friends frrom work snuck over to the house with tool belts and ladders and finished the roof on my gazebo. It's beautiful. They did an amazing job and my neighbor tells me it took them all day. I have no idea how I'm going to repay the kindness of my little "shoemaker's elves", but I'm going to try. I had been worrying aloud that I wouldn't be able to finish the roof before winter because of all the trips back and forth to Durham I'll have to make. So they did it for me, never saying a word. I'm so touched. I just can't believe the kindness. Keep in mind, these guys work about 60-80 hours a week and two of them have children and wives who are expecting.
Every time I start to lose faith in people, I'm reminded that there are truly wonderful folks in the world. And I know three guys that are getting big, fat kisses on Monday.
Does THAT make me gay?