this morning i went to the memorial service for my late neighbor doug capra. it was at the mt.auburn cemetery, which lies midway between my place and my parents, so i decided to stop by my parents' to drop off a few things first. i left my house a little bit before 9:00 and got to belmont by 9:20. after a moment to catch my breath, i made my way to the cemetery.

i've been to a bunch of weddings before not so much funerals. i guess it makes sense, since i'm still relatively young, but as i get older and begin entering the twilight of my life, i should expect to see more funerals.

the first thing that struck me was the sheer number of cars, at least several dozen. apparently in his lifetime doug made numerous friends, which speaks to the kind of person that he was. it makes me wonder if i passed away, how many people could i draw to my own memorial service?

i've seen the gothic-style bigelow chapel numerous times when visiting mt.auburn cemetery, but always from the outside. it seemed smaller on the inside, a narrow space ending in an elaborate stain-glasses wall at the far end. i spotted dennis and susan, sitting in the far back row, and i joined them. who were all these people? we thought, as more folks arrived until they had to add additional seating, and even then there were still people who could only stand.

doug's closest friends as well as his niece and nephew paid tribute by offering their memories of the man. this was followed by a music-accompanied slideshow, which poignantly demonstrates the power of photographs in preserving memories. photos of doug from the 70's were the most interesting; with his long hair and beard, he was one fierce looking hippie. next, members of the attending audience could volunteer their own doug memories. this brought on the laughs as well as the tears as people shared their heart-felt recollections. for instance, i never knew he was a vegetarian (although apparently he was a slow eater).

finally, live musicians were brought up front. this seemed unusual at first, until everything was explained. doug loved music and tripping lily was one of his favorite local band (an acoustic folk pop quartet). he seemed to know some of the band members, and as a last request (although no one knew at the time), he asked if they could come to the hospital and play something for him while he was undergoing observation. today the group would play a song in memory of doug. they barely finished, members breaking down in tears during their performance, which caused some quiet sobbing in the audience as well. just thinking about it now makes me a little teary-eyed too.

when it was all over, i was the first to exit the chapel. there was a post-memorial get-together at a friend's house in belmont, but since i didn't know anyone i wouldn't have gone anyway. it was a nice day, deep blue sky and a white snow-covered landscape. i trotted off in my rubber boots and retrieved my bicycle parking outside on top of a snow bank next to a sign post.

in the afternoon i went with my mother to return a few things. first we went to target, then we went across the street to the arsenal mall. it's been ages since i've been there, and a lot has changed. there used to be a few restaurant chains but they've all since closed. what used to be a bookstore is now a discount shoe store selling third world knockoffs. what used to be CVS is now a dollar store. in its glory days, the arsenal mall was a local social gathering place, but now it just seems depressing. if you want to feel sad you come to this mall. i ended up getting a shirt from the gap and my mother bought some hand soaps from bath & body works.

for dinner we had rice noodle soup. even though i know how to cook it myself, it always taste better when my mother makes it. afterwards i biked back to cambridge.