Everyone else had left the funeral home as Cecil’s family and mine shared another amusing memory and laughed together. I had broken the ice with the first story but everyone spoke up and added their favourite memory of Cecil and the Juneau’s. The atmosphere was reminiscent of a traditional Irish wake. We had moved from a small country home, on a dead end lane some ten years before and the Foley's were delighted that our whole family had come to celebrate Cecil's life.
I looked around the circle at our former neighbour’s smiles and I was surprise, surprised that the antics of our large family had been so entertaining and memorable to Cecil and his clan. I had simply done whatever came to my mind to keep a lot of little people busy, safe and happy. Now teenagers, Cecil’s grand-daughters were still delighted with my summer tradition of filling a baby bathtub with ice and snow from my old-fashioned freezer. They played for more than an hour with spoons, cups, bowls and food colouring as I kept the tub filled with frosty snow.
Cecil’s widow especially enjoyed the memory of our “walks” down our short, dead-end country lane. It was a virtual parade that consisted of children all under 12 vying for the opportunity to push the baby in a buggy, a toddler riding on a wagon, dutifully pulled by one of the older kids, a pre-school child sitting on bright yellow duck with wheels, bikes and tricycles ridden in circles around younger siblings and me, usually pregnant, sipping a nice hot cup of tea and walking as slowly as possible. Eva Foley made sure she had cookies and ginger ale for my children. Some days my crew couldn't wait to get outside to play because Cecil and Eva would inevitably wave them over for a treat.
I think that Cecil’s kindness is illustrated best by the the image of my two-year old son sitting on his knee “helping “ cut grass with the Foley's old tractor. Matthew was thrilled to simply sit on the small tractor, even when it was parked. This obsession did not dim when my son grew older. As Matthew grew bigger he could no longer sit up front with Cecil, he had to stand on the back of the tractor and finally by seven-years old, he could no longer hitch a ride but could only walk behind it. My son was still out there with Cecil, walking up and down the rows of grass for hours because Cecil was Matthew's best friend in those days. This friendship, between an old man and a little boy was based on their mutual love affair with an old tractor.
One evening, around 7:30, after Matthew’s bath, I called him for a bedtime story. Matthew peered out the window, watching Cecil work in his garden. This three year-old turned to me and wondered why he had to go to bed,
“BUT Cecil is still up!”