“Did you attend SFU for graduate school or your undergraduate years?” the woman asked.
I guess 99% of the attendees at Doreen’s memorial were either professors or had PhDs. With my measly MA I was definitely a petunia among roses. And though my tribute was well-received, I managed to give the wrong title of her most famous book. I know. I’m sort of dopey.
All the speakers, except her daughter and I, were used to giving lectures, and her daughter is a performer so she was completely at ease, too. Again, I think I was the only one who read my address. Everyone else gave their talks from memory.
But the day wasn’t about me. It was about Doreen, and whatever my shortcomings, they in no way took from the esteem in which she is held. She was brilliant. She was funny. She was dedicated. She was generous. All these attributes and more were revealed and expanded upon.
One aspect of her life that people recalled with pleasure was her ability to give successful parties, whether get-togethers for the lab or tasteful dinner parties. She spent hours and hours preparing everything to perfection. One story involved a dinner party where one of the guests began to expound on a controversial topic. Doreen tried to turn the conversation, but at last had to inform her guest that he was becoming “tedious.” She enjoyed a good argument as much as anyone, but this person was being rude and her other guests were being made to feel uncomfortable. She had to intervene.
I could never give a party like Doreen did. I don’t have the stamina it takes to carry out all the preparation involved. I’d lose interest or get distracted. I guess that’s why I’ve remained a petunia among roses.
But though Doreen’s friends were all roses, I doubt if anyone of them had the beauty and fragrance that my sister had.