I was not looking forward to the weekend at all. I took a night off of work so I could get to Nap early and feel rested for the day. My friends M and T got to town a day early as well. After I got back to town and visited with the parental units M text me and said they were having dinner with an old friend and said afterwards they would be at Ron's and wanted me to come over. It was the thing I had been dreading the most. I tried to go to the house the weekend before when Norm had died but I couldn't bring myself to get out of the car, it was late anyway and Ron was in bed I found out so it was for the best.
When I got to the house my stomach was turning, my heart was beating and my emotions were on the surface, but I forced myself to go into the house. I rang the bell and walked in which is customary in that house, the bell is to let them know someone is here but they were always in the basement or on the patio next to the pond on the basement level. I entered like I normally would and Ron had prepped the house for the luncheon and there were Norms favorite things all around. Photos of him, his photography and the dining room table he designed and built a year ago. He would bring me pictures of his progress when I was at the store and couldn't get over there, it was beautiful. 6 months of hand crafting the 4 legs and a beautiful piece of granite that was a mistake when they redid the downstairs kitchen. He took this mistake and made something so beautiful out of it. It's just who he was.
I headed down the stairs like usual taking note of the beautiful Bamboo floors he installed 2 years ago and loved as well, the tempered glass railing we used to argue about the details of and tears started forming. As I got half way down the stairs his chair came into view. He always sat in the same chair at the foot of the stairs in front of the t.v. I would come down the stairs and he would turn and look at me and smile and wave and make some sort of remark about the Queen of Mortville has returned. He always had a remark about a John Water's film, he was a big fan and we used to watch those movies when I was over.
The difference was this time he was not there. The chair sat empty and the tears started rolling. I could hear everyone on the patio so I took a moment to get myself together and continued down the stairs out to the patio, where his favorite chair there was empty as well. I gave everyone a hug and a big hug to Ron which was all so heart felt. We had some wine and talked, in general at first, but not long into the conversation Ron started talking about the last few months. He talked about how hard it was watching him die and stories about how Norm kept his wit and his humor until the very end. He told us stories about the hospice worker doubled over the day she was over from laughing so hard.
He told us about the last two days, how Norm made the decision to come home and die in his favorite place and was expecting a fight from Ron, but got no fight. Ron knew what Norm wanted and stayed true to how he wanted it to end. He talked about how they spent their last night together just talking for hours, how Norm picked out his own Urn and how wonderful it was he got to spend those hours talking to him. He talked about how peaceful it was when he died. He waited until everyone was gone and Ron had gone upstairs to do a little work to let him nap and how an hour later he was gone.
I feared being dehydrated from crying so much. We just sat and let him talk it out, there wasn't a dry eye on that patio that night. As the night went on Ron put on some of Norm's favorite music videos that he had collected and Ron and I danced. M and T said they had no rhythm so they watched and laughed because it was hilarious. We ended up calling it a night knowing that the next day would be the party. Norm loved a good time, he loved having friends over and he loved laughing at stories, watching and listening to everyone and then starting nasty rumors about them when they went to get something. He enjoyed stirring the pot, it always ended in laughter though.
The service was quiet, there was standing room only in the chapel and people I didn't expect to be there, were. They were handing out tissues, but I didn't need any. He wasn't there and I said my good byes the night before, to me this was a formality and a chance for his family to get together and morn.
I was one of the first to the house, then a few others I knew showed up and we headed down to the patio waiting for Ron to come back from the funeral home. We sat on the patio and chatted and soon enough Ron came down the stairs to open the doors wearing one of his famous Hawaiian shirts. He opened the doors and said enough tears, lets party. People were coming in like crazy, food was flowing, wine was flowing and at first everyone was sharing stories in their groups. It was fun to wonder from group to group and listen to the time line of Norms life. He was nearly 40 when he and Ron got together so there were people there with stories he didn't know, and other people there with stories he did, but no one else probably wanted to know. He lived quite a life that man. From nearly avoiding arrest in Haiti when his buddy landed the plane in the wrong side of town, to scuba diving the reefs in Florida, to partying with Jeffery Domer....he didn't have any idea who it was, but he said at that time he was pretty cute. It ended in the cops removing Jefferey from the hotel, but it was quite the story.
Ron talked about them being at a party with some friends in Chicago at a bar and bringing drinks to the table to find Norm chatting it up with a group of guys who were now sitting at their table having no idea who they were, but Ron knew. Norms face lit up like Christmas he said when the DJ announced that night's performance by the village people and they all got up and headed to the stage. Like I said, quite the life.
The wine flowed more, some of the older people left, I met Norm's sisters from Florida and they started inquiring who I was and how I met Norm and when I told them about my carryout they knew instantly who I was, it felt good to know he talked about me and that maybe those times in the store meant something to him too. I met Ron's brothers who were just as much of a riot as Ron is and got to talk to Tim and Keith. I have mentioned Tim and Keith on here before but referred to them as beautiful people. I met them at Ron's birthday party a year or so ago and when I got there they were shirtless in swimming trunks and I couldn't take my eyes off of them. I was sitting with Tim and recounted the story (because apparently I'm not shy when I drink) through my eyes that day. I told him how intimidated I was of him and Keith because they were so beautiful. He got all shy and giggly and we had a wonderful conversation where he said some of the most beautiful things to me, and I'll love him forever because of it.
Later on I sat with Keith getting to know him more and we chatted about him and Tim and how great we all thought he was and how happy he made Tim. Tim has been friends with Ron and Norm for 20 some odd years and they really looked after him. Keith really is a stand up fella and he asked me about myself and I took him through the story and he too had some very nice and wonderful things to say. They are both such amazing people.
Towards the end of the night, and after I made some inappropriate comments/suggestions to a guy there which turned out to be the step son of an old friend of mine (he was plenty of age by the way, he was just married with two kids-this by the way had Ron nearly in tears from laughing at me), Ron and I and a few others that were left were sitting around and I told Ron how I wished Norm was around so I could tell him a few things, but since he wasn't I wanted to tell Ron them too because he was a part of it too and I didn't want to miss the chance with him like I did Norm.
I told him how much their friendship has meant to me, how much I appreciated them letting me into their lives and giving me a safe place to be myself, etc. I already wrote this in another post. He just smiled that amazing grin of his and said, We knew. He said those many nights I would fall asleep watching movies Norm would just smile and not let Ron try to wake me up to either go home to bed or sleep in the spare room because it made him feel good that I was so comfortable there I could just fall asleep like that. He said Norm really enjoyed my visits and really enjoyed being able to go to the store any time he wanted to, to see me. Ron said it was always a happy time when I showed up.
I felt speechless and overwhelmed and surprised, I shouldn't have been because Norm was always so wise, of course he knew. It just meant so much to hear it, even now my heart is just filled with love for the both of them and I am eternally grateful that God brought us together no matter how short it was for.
Norm's last wish was for Ron to take time for himself, but not until after he replaced the glass on the back of the house (which is all glass) because Norm didn't get around to it, and replace the concrete patio and expand it a little like he had always planned. So Ron has already ordered much of the glass and will be spending the summer doing that and will be doing the patio in the fall. After that he said he's going to do some traveling because the last several years Norm has not been able to travel far, so now Ron can. He never realized how much time he spent taking caring of Norm over the last few years, he said he finds himself in the basement (Norm's realm) all the time now out of habit. I pray for him to be able to cope, survive and enjoy the rest of his life however he feels, knowing Norm would have wanted him to enjoy every minute of every day.
Sorry this is so long, I had to get it out of my system. They are amazing guys and touched everyone they came into contact with. I am so honored to have known him and continue to know Ron. Thank you God.