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					                                         Michael A. Shelley’s

                           Ratte on a Sticke
                                           Octoberish, 2002

                                         Probably the last one

                                                       enough time to play the Telemann due to the
On September 9 I was in Port Arthur, about
                                                       large turnout, and I’m glad I was able to do so
two hours’ drive east of my home, working a
                                                       without much trouble. Catherine Langley, a
cutover in one of the local refineries. Amanda
                                                       mutual friend, said that it let her feel ‘more
called that afternoon to give me a message
                                                       connected’ than the spoken eulogies. The act
from Laura Bourdo that Catie had been found
                                                       of playing helped me accept what had
dead at a picnic table while out camping.
                                                       happened, and I hope it did the same for
Sorry if that sounds blunt. That’s how it was          others.
presented to me.
                                                       There was a light meal in the church gym
I don’t remember the however-many stages of            afterwards, where I talked briefly with family
grief as defined by Kubler-Ross, but I                 members and friends that Catie and I had in
remember that they start with denial. I                common through recorder playing. (Our
immediately disbelieved what I had heard, but          esteemed CM was there also, as I’m sure you
that quickly passed as Amanda told me what             all know by now.)
she knew. My next reaction was to ask what
                                                       Amanda had volunteered to provide food for
was to become of Kelson, and to offer our help
                                                       the family that evening, so we went over to the
in whatever way we could. (He’s being looked
                                                       house and talked a bit more with the family
after by a large network of family friends and
                                                       (mostly Catie’s sister Amy, her brother Bob,
church members.)
                                                       and her parents) and some friends. Amy
It was impossible for me to leave for home             seemed especially interested in how people
until the following Friday, but fortunately I          came to meet Catie and David, so I told her
didn’t have to actually do very much work              what I could remember, and Amanda filled in
during this time. Within a couple of days, I’d         details and added some recollections of her
agreed to play recorder at the memorial service        own.
the following Saturday. Catie’s mother
                                                       Here’s what I remember of what I told her. I
specifically requested the traditional Shaker
                                                       started going to meetings of the Houston
hymn ‘Simple Gifts,’ which I don’t have
                                                       Historical Instrument Society (HHIS, now
music for, but I figured I could work it out.
                                                       pretty much defunct) in about 1993. I’d started
Amanda found a couple of arrangements
                                                       playing recorder about eight years previously,
online that helped me out, as I had no time to
                                                       but hadn’t found anyone else who played in
practice or look for music.
                                                       the area aside from a few people in the SCA.
Whenever Catie was asked to play something             (Amanda and I were getting less involved in
off-the-cuff, or at her mother’s church, she           the SCA at that time. We wanted some more
always played ‘Simple Gifts.’ After I returned         normal friends, although I can’t imagine why.)
home, I picked out an aria from a Telemann
                                                       At one of the first meetings I attended, I
partita that I would play as a eulogy of my
                                                       mentioned that I was looking for a group to
own, if given the opportunity.
                                                       play with informally. Catie mentioned that
The service was on Saturday afternoon in Holy          they could use another player – the group she
Cross Lutheran Church, where I’d previously            was playing with consisted of Clara Estes, Sue
played recorder on several occasions. (The             Allen, and John Whitman, in addition to
most recent was this past St. Valentine’s Day.)        herself. I’d have to drive upwards of 30
People closer to Catie than I was spoke for a          minutes to get to anyone else’s house, but that
few minutes each, and I snuck up to the choir          was okay with me.
loft to play my bit during communion. Bruce
                                                       About a year or so later, I carpooled to the
Brogdon, who was near the altar, and I
                                                       Texas Toot with Catie. Later I found out that
alternated playing short pieces. There was
Amanda was extremely jealous, as we’d only
been married about two years at the time, and
Amanda hadn’t yet met Catie. Soon after the
Toot, we all got together for some reason and
Amanda eventually got over her jealousy after
meeting David and Kelson.
By 1995 or so, we were getting together a few
times a year to play Magic:The Gathering
(otherwise known as crack for gamers, as it
was the first really successful collectible card
game), or go out to dinner, or see a movie, or a
concert, or no reason at all.
We never got to be as close to Catie and David
as we would have liked, as they lived a fair
distance away from us, and we both had fairly
busy schedules. But we kept in touch, and
would just call each other just to see what was
going on.
We were at Catie’s house for a party two
weeks prior to her death. We ate, talked, met
people who’se names I’ve forgotten, played
boardgames, and even got in some recorder
playing. We sounded lousy, but it didn’t
matter because we were enjoying ourselves.
She was excited about transferring to Houston
Baptist University from the University of
Houston, which was trying to make her into an
opera singer. She had recently started lute
lessons with Bruce Brogdon, and was looking
forward to continuing.
If I’d known what was going to happen, would
I have done anything differently? Probably
not. Maybe given her a hug when we left that
night.

				
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