Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Going-Away Party (We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!)

Disclaimer: I know that it is bad manners to discuss a party in front of folks who were not invited. I am going to override that rule for this posting, because I had no control over the guest list; I just provided the food and the venue. Besides, this is my blog, so I make (or break) the rules here!

On Friday night, we gave a party at our house for Maribeth and her family. I have posted bits and pieces about Maribeth (MB) before. We have been friends for about 7 or 8 years. We met at a women's retreat through our church, when we were both "new:" she was new to the area, and I was new to the church. We were placed in groups of 2 in a 4-room condo, and 6 of the 8 of us decided to continue seeing each other as a group, because we had so much fun as "roomies" at the retreat. Thus was born what we called "The Quad Sisters:" MB, Kerry, Diane, Vickie, Angela and me. This is a photo of Angela, MB and yours, truly:

We tried to meet for brunch, coffee or dinner about once a month. When our schedules didn't allow for that, we got together as we were able, sometimes in a smaller group. Some of us attended the same Bible study class, formed a little supper club with our husbands, met for hikes and exercise, etc. We all bought the same "Faith, Hope, Love" ring from James Avery. When Diane's cancer began to advance, we each supported her in our own way. When she passed away, her family gave us the privilege of lighting a friendship candle together at her memorial service, and they gave each of us a necklace identical to the one Diane wore & loved.

MB is a cancer-survivor, and was the perfect friend and confidant to me during Katie's illness. Her daughter, Taylor, was one of Katie's favorite people to "hang" with. Here is Taylor and her beau, Sean:
Both MB and Taylor have been deeply involved with the "Katie's Quilters" project. Maribeth and I have a similar sense of humor, and we could laugh together all through the ordeal of Katie's illness and her passing, without embarassment, at things that I would not have dared to share (or laugh about) with others. She was the only person (outside of the immediate family) who I allowed into the ICU after Katie's surgery. She is the only one who I think could have stood it; even though she cried when she saw Katie, she wanted to be there. And she was with us to the end. She never, ever flinched from ANYTHING.

MB and Katie loved each other. They shared interests in fashion, movies, pets and acting. They also loved to tease each other, but with lots of affection. One of my favorite, and last, memories of MB's and Katie's banter happened on the Monday before Katie passed away (she passed on Thursday). MB came up to Katie's room late in the afternoon, after we had been waiting all day --in vain-- for the cable company to send a guy to fulfill Katie's request to have her own cable TV connection in her room. When MB came in, Katie looked at her new necklace, handled it for a moment, and then said, with great fatigue in her voice, "You're such a disappointment to me." MB was shocked and taken aback at this, and said tentatively, "I am?" To which Katie replied, "You're supposed to be the Cable Guy." (This was a take-off from dialogue in a movie that we all knew and loved, The Devil Wears Prada. As sick as she was, Katie enjoyed her "Gotcha!" moment at MB's expense.)

I thank God for a friend who is so steady, strong and loving; so much fun, so frank, comfortable in her own skin, and so very outrageous...and if any of you were wondering, she is the one who nicknamed me "G-berger."

Since Maribeth's husband, Alan (here he is with Angela and me; he is 6' 7" tall),
has accepted a new job in Kansas City, I decided to give them a going-away party with a Wizard of Oz theme; it's one of MB's favorite movies (Seattle is "the Emerald City," and they are moving back to Kansas). We offered to host the party in our home and provide the food, so that she could invite anyone she chose. The guest list was well over 100, but as it was graduation weekend, we ended up having "only" about 60 people here. Family members, friends from church, from her many & varied theatre productions, friends of the family, etc., all came to honor MB, Alan and their children, Austin and Taylor. Here is MB with Austin:
We took up a collection to donate to the Bainbridge Performing Arts Theatre School, where MB teaches, and where she has been in so many BPA productions. Because of her friends' generosity, funds for a scholarship were donated, so that a child in need can attend theatre camp. We also collected photos of her in various shows and with friends. Angela made posters of these, which we put up at the party, and then gave to MB to keep.

Our next-door neighbor, Kim, just happens to be a brilliant caterer (she gives the most incredible parties, too). Since my brain is not working as well it used to, and we haven't hosted a party in over a year and a half, we asked Kim to handle the food. She prepared artichoke hearts with aioli, Chinese duck pizzas with hoisin sauce, crab wontons, smoked salmon, brie en croute with roasted tomatoes and figs, beef tenderloin bites on puff pastry, prawns, and cheese straws; Gregg and I provided beverages (guests also brought some), and we lit the yard with tiki torches. The food was passed around by two great servers, the self-serve bar was on our front lawn (the view/water side);
we had a Wizard of Oz cake, made by Tina at Town & Country (of course),

David and Adam (Angela's husband) built a bonfire on the beach, and our piano was moved into the entry hall, where the "theatre types" could sing their show tunes with an accompanist.
Music, friends, exquisite food and laughter. It was a lovely evening, and it was fun to be able to share the event with Linda. Here she is with my mom and dad, me, Gregg and David:

...and, just for fun, here is a photo of my mom and me:

I am so thankful that we were able to do this for our dear, treasured friends who we are going to miss terribly. We wish them blessings on their way.


Faithful Froggers said...

Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog. I was so sorry to hear that your daughter had also passed away from the same type of cancer as Jacob. Katie was just beautiful and I am so sorry for your loss.

Cancer is such a long, hard journey - but thank goodness we have the promise of Heaven!
May God bless your family greatly.

Smileygirl said...

Yay! Your mom's eyes are open in that photo! So cute. First of all, I LOVE that blouse you are wearing. Is that the one Linda recommended you purchase on a shopping trip? If so she has EXCELLENT taste. It is stunning on you. Ok there was a second point I wanted to mention but now I can't remember! Ack! I'll have to comment again when I think of it. I'm too distracted by your beautiful blouse!

karengberger said...

Yes, that's the one; she does have great taste. I can't wear it if I am going to cook, though, or I'll probably catch the sleeves on fire, but it's great for just being decorative! I can't wait to hear what your second point is...

Maggie said...

Karen that party looked absolutely wonderful! What a beautiful way to honor your friendship...creating a lasting memory. Thank you so much for sharing.

By the, love, love the shirt!

KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN said...


I have loved reading your posts. I'm sorry I haven't had an opportunity to comment fully.

Your circle of friends is tremendous and they envelope you with love in every picture. The picture or you and your mother is precious. I also love the post about David's completion of 10th grade. Congratulations to him and to you & Gregg for bringing him along so well.

Your son is exceptional. I cannot imagine how much he misses his baby sister, and yet his nobility shines through in the ways he chooses to continue to honor her. Give him a slobbery kiss on the cheek for me and tell him not to blush. I'm a very good kisser. :-)

Laura is right, I love that blouse. I've ALWAYS loves kimono type sleeves and you look stunning.

On Monday I read the post about Katie's 10 months and I sat at my desk at work crying. Yes, I was sad for you and for your family and for the fact that Katie had to leave this earth. But, I was also so touched and so happy for that child because she was able to leave with genuine love and compassion surrounding her. Too often in this world children do not have that simple luxury. There are orphanages in Afghanistan and I often wonder how those sick kids must feel when they're alone.

A blessed and beautiful child was Katie. God gave her such a beautiful family who was there with her, kept her company, comforted her, and let her know she was so very loved as she closed the door on this life's journey.

Blessings and peace to all of you, and especially to Katie in heaven.

Sheri said...

What an awesome party Karen! I live vicariously through you sometimes you know. I love the picture of you and your mom!

Karla W. said...

That sounds like you guys had a great time...going away parties are always hard, but then there are the comming back parties too :)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

What a wonderful post - even though I don't know you (other than your blog) and don't know anyone in these photos - their LOVE and LIGHT just shines so brilliantly! I love that!

Like Laura, I also noticed the blouse.... tres magnifique!

Also, you must be about my height? (I'm 5'1") When I saw the pic of you with the 6'7" man, it reminded me of me and my husband (he is 6'6").

Anyway, you are beautiful (inside and out) and there is so much obvious love and affection in your circle of family and friends!

I know Katie was very much at the party, in Spirit. :-)

Take care.