It was a perfect celebration of his life. Denise and Philip's house was filled with the people Rudy loved most in the world. At one point, I looked around at the crowd. There were so many people there from all parts of Rudy's life and he would have been thrilled to see every one of them.
I keep thinking back over all the people who were there. There were so many people I wanted to speak to - it was overwhelming. Every single person there was a gift --- to me and to Rudy's two sisters, Linda and Nancy. They all made our goodbye celebration the most perfect day possible. I feel sure, Rudy would have been proud. I have no idea what it's really like in heaven, but I pictured him watching over the day with lots of people he loved. They were all no doubt telling him how wonderful it was and how lucky he was to be loved by so many. I have a feeling his brother, Jimmy, was by his side, laughing and crying and cracking jokes.
There were, of course, many tears, but just as I'd hoped, there were more laughs. I heard many people recounting stories about good times with Rudy. Most of the stories were very funny. Rudy was full of fun and mischief. Some stories were touching and showed what a good heart he had. Thank you Aunt Jane for a really special memory. I knew that beneath Rudy's gruff exterior, he was just a big softie. I loved that side of him. I also loved his fun side, and truthfully, his humor is what made me fall for him in the first place. I have said a number of times that Rudy made me laugh every day and he made me cuss every day. That's the truth! He loved pushing my buttons. He was very good at it and when he got me good and "riled up", he'd have a good laugh.
Rudy's cousin, Matt, and Rudy's nephew, Daniel, spoke to the crowd. Over the years, Rudy had said on a number of occasions that when it was his time, he hoped they'd speak at his funeral. He got his wish and the things they each said was absolutely wonderful. The two of them spoke from the heart and it meant the world to me.
Rudy's Aunt Peggy, wrote a sweet poem for him that she read aloud. It was very touching.
Our niece, Denise W, not only hosted the event, but she also is the one who spent HOURS putting together the video. It was amazing. She gathered photos from lots of folks and added music that Nancy helped choose. Daniel and his wife, Denise (we have 3 Denise's in the family) were instrumental in getting the video set up to play on multiple TV's. If you didn't get to see the video, you can see some of the photos HERE. Philip said Rudy went through phases in terms of his style, including the Grizzly Adams stage and the Lewis Grizzard stage. I thought he was pretty darned handsome all of his life.
Denise W. had help from others in putting the party together and getting things set up. Carly, Evan, Daniel, Denise L, Jack, Jonce and Philip worked really hard. Everything was beautiful. Also, thank you to the many people brought food! I brought 4 blueberry pies (Rudy's famous favorite recipe) and we realized after most people had left they hadn't even been put out. I'm sure Rudy thought that was funny.
It was really tough to stay composed through the day. I guess I didn't do such a good job and sweet Kelly was right there with me each time I dissolved. I've held it together for months, but apparently, the dam has broken and now it takes nothing to set off the waterworks. It seems every time I saw someone new, I became weepy. Every time I thought about how Rudy would have loved it, I got weepy. Every time I caught sight of a photo on the video, I got weepy. Every time I heard something wonderful being said, I wept some more. Thank you Stephanie for a particularly amazing compliment. Thank you Luis for sharing so many details about your special relationship with Rudy. Thank you to the many people who traveled some distance through harrowing Atlanta traffic to be there! I still can't believe the number of people who stopped in through the day.
Thank you to Carl for driving me all over the place! Today when I picked up my car, I found he had cleaned it and filled the tank with gas. Of course, that brought on a fresh waterworks display. He's a really, really great guy!
Thanks to everyone who helped make this extremely sad day the most joyful it could possibly be. Linda, Nancy, and I will be eternally grateful.
One last thing. If anyone has a dream about Rudy, please tell me. I know... That's weird. But really, I