You’d be surprised how much planning has to be done for a proper Party Into Paradise. We’re under a lot of pressure to do Don’s departure up right; after all, how many of us will ever have the opportunity to make a presentation at a governor’s mansion? Folks are flying in from all over the country to fete their friend and mentor in the window washing industry and in how to grab for the gusto in this life.
This is nothing like the ease with which we can bury our dead at a funeral facility where the staffs are all instructed to speak in soft voices and smile such gentle smiles. Where we are encouraged to choose from a Chinese menu of official options for caskets, cremation urns, services and songs. Don wanted us to have nothing to do with all that. He even left a list of his favorite songs to be played while we party.
Our group comes over to Holly’s for supper, and laughs out loud at the stories we’ve all got to tell about Don and his wacky ways of relating to his world. We’ve got Molly, a marketing manager who works for the governor helping to plan protocol, Bob, a professional photojournalist and editor working on photos and the eulogy, Mary, a corporate executive assisting her journalist husband in choosing the proper pictures and keeping him from crying as he remembers all the good times he and Don had getting the greatest shots.
Professional project manager Art is putting all the pieces together to come up with a multimedia presentation that will do Don proud. The professional technowizard, Scotty is consulting on the equipment and programs and is scheduled to set up the video and sound systems for the service at the mansion and the after party at the across-town clubhouse. Richard will do last-minute framing of the photos chosen for Don’s “shrine.” I’m pretty sure there have been heads of state who have had less talented folks working on their send offs.
Executive chef Holly and her mom prepare the suppers for our planning sessions, while Richard and I tend bar, and generally help where we can. Our big parts will come later when we apply my cooking and catering skills to preparing the mostly Cajun menu that was requested by our honoree.
The ever-patient Richard will provide a steady eye and hand to videotaping the service. He is also going to apply his sobriety skills to being the designated driver, transporting the many party people safely to and from their hotels. He supplied this same skill when we celebrated Holly’s fiftieth birthday in the same area of Atlanta, so we know he’s prepared for whatever the guests may say and do.
I feel honored to be a part of this wonderful group of “pretty damn terrific” people putting their passions into the finale for their friend. I guess you could call me the producer and director of Don’s final dance.