Mourning a complicated person can be- -complicated. This week Lily and I made a pilgrimage to Reno, Nevada. The purpose of our trip was Part Two of the Bruce Matley Memorial Trifecta. First cousins, first cousins at one remove and spouses gathered for dinner in his honor. Cousin Patriarch Wayne Matley (who just celebrated his 94th birthday) and his wife Barbara came all the way from Enumclaw, Washington, to take part! Twelve of us gathered for a Basque-style dinner at the Santa Fe Hotel, a family favorite and a place that Bruce truly enjoyed. Our fearless dozen engaged in the traditional drinking of Picon Punch, a mysterious concoction of alcohol and other ingredients with enough brandy floated on top to make a powerful impression on the first sip. I enjoyed one; two, I believe, would have knocked me down.
I got stuck with a Diet Coke.
Good thing I’m making the judgment calls, Lily. Picon Punch is not for the underage!
We dined heartily at the Santa Fe, starting with shared sides of soup, salad, beans and fries, fare developed to fuel the hard-working Basques of the American west. I was thrilled to find salmon on the entree list in addition to the hard-core steaks, organ meats, etc.
That’s why you didn’t get a menu.
The cousins shared reminiscences of Bruce, including stories from his very early days of reading comic-books in cowboy boots and hat, humming old Sons of the Pioneers tunes to himself while the other kids built spaceships and invented backyard carnivals. Oh, he’d join in once they’d set up, but until then. . . . There was also a compromising story from the time he was a baby and did something highly inappropriate while bathing in the kitchen sink. The love in the room was palpable and a voice or two cracked with emotion when stories were shared. I know Bruce was there with us and enjoyed every minute. My one regret- -none of us remembered to take a group picture!
I was treated royally on my visit, which included a gorgeous hike along the northeast edge of Lake Tahoe with Cousins Kathy and Ellen, and a pilgrimage to the Flying Diamond J Ranch in Doyle, CA, home of Cousins Skip and Corinne. Bruce and I visited the Flying Diamond J many times and lived there for a couple of months in 2012.
My heart skipped when the home place came into sight. So many good memories as we visited the house where Bruce and I stayed. We also made a trip up to the summer range to recover a lollygagging bull, and I got reacquainted with my favorite border collie, Daisy, who is still a puppy at fourteen.
She’s such a sweet girl!
Lily got plenty of attention, too. Several of the cousins know about her, as they are regular readers of this blog. Cousin Kathy said the knee-length argyle socks in my official “widow’s weeds” ensemble are VERY Lily.
Kathy has an excellent sense of style.
The sights and events of my pilgrimage south were wonderful. Visiting the Matley cousins was the best part of all. It made me feel good to be with kind and generous people who love Bruce so much and have embraced me as family. I’m going to keep them. I think Lily will, too.
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