Dear Sweet Friends,
I want to share some of the wonderful things people said about my father, as well as some of the funny things that happened during the extraordinary week I spent with my family in Naples. Sending Beau off to heaven was a profound experience in many ways.
For some reason, perhaps because it was across the street from the hotel, we dined at Hooters constantly. I can tell you that Beau would have thought this to be very funny indeed. I can also tell you that I have no interest in eating another chicken wing for the rest of my life. I believe the total number of wings consumed by people with the last name Bercaw, Dion or Nicholls may have toppled 200. We also consumed about 15 pizzas. Sorry, Beau, not a vegetable in sight until the lovely luncheon at Quail Creek Country Club where I inhaled salad like it was water.
Our hotel, which was a remarkably good deal for Naples, Florida and very conveniently located (to the aforementioned Hooters) was undergoing the Great Mattress Swap. For five of our seven days there, we enjoyed watching full, queen and king size mattress being loaded in and out of the parking lot and lobby. After about day three, it didn’t even seem strange anymore, like the mattress were just part of our permanent landscape, like the shrubs. Also of note, the maid assigned to our room approached me at one point to ask me about the hospice brochures in our room. I gave them to her when she told me that her mother was dying.
My brother Lee became fixated on the idea that we should have a Stretch Limo take us to the service as well as the luncheon. The limo fit all 11 of us, including Merit (an honorary Bercaw), and was reminiscent of summer trips to the farm with Bercaws crammed into a van like circus clowns. David and Alyssa probably got the biggest kick out of the limo, and all the attention it garnered us as we drove across town.We all wondered what Nora’s reaction would be…and turned out she loved it. Good job, bro, who also amused me by drinking beer out of a straw.
Surely one of the best things about the week was hearing Wonderful Stories about Beau. (Turns out that everybody’s got them!) Old friend Dr. Williams told how Beau saved his father-in-law’s life. The man was sick and getting sicker by the day, and no one could figure out what was wrong with him. He’d been to see the finest doctors across the Eastern Seaboard. Finally, Beau got a chance to look at him after everyone had given up the man for dead. Beau and the man sat and talked for a good long while. In the course of this conversation, it became apparent that the man had suffered from TB a long time ago and had been on medication. Beau realized that the medication had made the man deficient in a certain kind of vitamin. Upon replenishing that vitamin, he was healed.
The other great story was courtesy of Greg Collins who went on many travels with Beau. For Greg’s 25th Wedding Anniversary, he planned a five-star trip to Asia with his wife Angela. Unfortunately the trip came on the heels of 9/11 and Angela refused to travel. Greg didn’t know what to do with the trip, until Beau offered to go along in place of her. Beau and Greg were greeted at Ritz Carlton Hotels from Singapore to Bangkok with roses and champagne, and even were treated to a sunset dinner for two on the balcony of their rooms. Beau was completely oblivious to the fact that hotel management assumed he and Greg were the anniversary couple.
I also learned that Beau once bought a lab coat for his pal Joe Dineen, and had Dr. Dineen inscribed above the pocket. (Joe, FYI, is not a doctor.) He took Joe on rounds at the Veteran’s Hospital in Tampa and then out to lunch.
But the best thing of all about last week—-beside the Vietnamese lady who was doing my nails telling me that my face needed waxing—was the amazing unity of my family. Kathy, Lee, Kelly, Chris, Allan and I worked like an Olympic Team to get everything done well and to make things easier for Nora. I left Naples appreciating them more than I ever thought I could.