After the performance and more photos, we moved to the magnificent Carousel Pavilion which looked so lovely lit up in antique lights. Chef Jeramie Campana of Wild Asparagus and his team treated us to a delicious meal.
Peter Sagal was the perfect toastmaster, fabricating quirky biographical anecdotes for each speaker as he introduced them.
Each of the Special Guests who took to the podium offered his or her own perspective on Gene and his work, beginning with Gene’s daughter, Teri Goulding, who talked about how proud her mother, Rosemary, would have been.
Rosemary was not well enough to attend, and her absence was felt by all who loved Gene. In my own small way I had had tried to include her by attaching a few small sprigs of rosemary to Gene’s boutonniere.
Following the speeches, dinner, dessert, and cordials, Greg Leifel, the Foundation Director at Sanfilippo announced that guests could ride the antique carousel. The crowd cheered, loudly, then ran to stand in line. What followed is best expressed in a few photos:
Joy. Wonder. You can see it reflected on their faces in photos and in this video by Bill Shunn:
That carousel evoked such a joyful response. I could think of no better way to end an evening that honored a man whose stories delight so many people. To see his face lit up, to see him so happy—it was the perfect way to close the night.
Maura Henn, and Kyle and Trillian, were staying with us, and some of the guests met us back at our home. Joined by Peter Straub, Gary K. Wolfe and Stacie Hanes, Jennifer Stevenson, and others, we had cocktails, wine, and cheese, and sat around the living room relaxing in various stages of exhaustion and inspiration.
Then it was over.
When the house was quiet, Kyle, Maura, and Mark chatted while I fell asleep on the couch. In the morning it was like a fantastic dream.
I’ve been anxious to see the photos from the evening. Slowly they have begun to appear online.
The photos help to make it more concrete, just as writing this blog entry helps to tether it to reality. Writing about it keeps An Evening to Honor Gene Wolfe from drifting off into that nebulous realm of dreams and memories.
In life, we are lucky to meet people who inspire us. Sometimes we encounter them through their work—stories and images that strike a chord. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have them for friends. This weekend was filled with both.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make it happen.