I arrived Sunday afternoon and went straight from the airport to the fighter practice that was being held in Kylson's honor. I got there and saw a few folk I knew (Oertha's changed a lot since I lived there!), and chatted. Eventually other folk from outside of the Principality arrived, including Fabian Arnett ..., Magnus Artkus, Mari Alexander, Brocc of Alderden, Colin MacLear, Francis Bull of Kent, William Kearney, and of course I was already there. And local folk showed up of course, some I knew, some I didn't ... Those who were inclined got into armor, the fencers were fencing. Folk were schmoozing. Kylson would have approved. Someone told me it was probably the largest fighting practice in Eskalya in some time.
Anne (Kylson's widow) arrived with their son Darien, and spent some time with folk, before going back to her home where the memorial was being held that evening.
I drove to the home of Viola where I was crashing for the night, after stopping and getting some lunch.
Hung out at Viola's for awhile, read a bit, talked with folk a bit. We all headed over to Anne's home, parking in the nearby church lot, and down the street. Some small sunshades were up on the lawn. Lots of ice chests full of pretty much anything you could think of to drink. LOTS OF PEOPLE. Everything started out on the lawn and driveway, outside. However, food was inside (made sense, keep the bugs off ...). Also inside in one hall were photos of Kylson. LOTS of photos of Kylson. Wow. His Knight's scroll was hung in the main area right outside the living room with all his awards hung on it, including the Princess' Champion baldric.
People chatted, had food and drink, looked at photos ... and it was amazing to see who came to this. From ancient Oerthan history came Marya Nordama, one of the founders of Eskalya ... many people I hadn't seen in years were there. Wow. There were of course people I wasn't very familiar with (if at all ...) because there have been lots of new folk in Oertha since I was last there.
When it got close to 9 o'clock, Anne got up on an ice chest and spoke for a short bit, understandably choking up a few times in the process. Then her mother spoke a little about what a joy Kylson was to have as a son-in-law, father to Darien, and family member, she gave a little prayer. Kylson's cousin Joel sang "Oh, Danny Boy", and there was not a dry eye in the place. However, many attempts were made by people to remember the positive things about Kylson -- all the joy he brought with him everywhere he went. At 9 we all raised whatever we were drinking, and gave a very loud toast to Kylson.
Some of Kylson's squires and former squires sang "A Dram for the Piper". Lots of happy memories were dragged out. Dresden drank a glass of beer for Kylson, after explaining why: He's older than Kylson and always expected Kylson would outlast him -- he made Kylson promise to drink a beer in his honor after he passed away. The table was turned, and Dresden instead drank in Kylson's honor.
There were tears, yes. (Hell, I'm starting to tear up as I write this ...) But there was much joy. People sang, and sang, and sang. The bardic circle was great, as you would expect in Oertha ... Of course over the evening people went home. I stayed until around 2 in the morning before heading off to Viola's home after getting a chance to talk to Anne a bit ... then flew home today, and here I am ... still grieving, but feeling better than I have for a week ...
I don't know how long the bardic actually lasted, as when I left it was still going strong with about 15-20 people still singing.
Spider Robinson wrote at least once in his Callahan's Crosstime Saloon novels that shared pain can lessen the pain for the individual. I have never seen a greater example of this.
No one could ever hope to replace Kylson in our hearts, in our minds, in bardic circles, on the tournament field, the dance floor, as a husband and father, as a friend. No one should ever be expected to. The memorial service was a great tribute to a man who touched many lives, and hopefully he will be remembered with joy. Hopefully some of the pain many of us feel has been dulled at least a little by this.
Lady Gwendolyn has posted photos from the memorial service.