The Gilderdales’ Last Gasp
By Kate Gilderdale
Like Frank Sinatra’s long goodbye, the Walletheads’ farewell to Stouffville was a protracted affair, which included an unforgettable celebration hosted by the Free Press and other lovely FOGs (Friends of the Gilderdales).
Tuning out the rising panic associated with moving after four decades in one spot, we also rashly decided to hold a ‘goodbye to the house’ party at the old homestead for family and friends from the city who had been regular visitors to the ’ville over the years.
The event was scheduled for nine days before the big move and several people questioned our sanity. It would be a breeze, I insisted. We’d order in and everything else would take care of itself.
By the time I had begun to think rationally about the affair it was too late to cancel, so I turned to my stalwart friend Lynn for advice about what to serve. “Funeral sandwiches,” she said, without missing a beat.
I pointed out that even though I’m sort of retiring, I’m not ready to throw in the towel completely, but apparently the name is often used to describe food which is easy to serve. Our old friend, Wikipedia, explains it thus:
“The common thread among funeral food is that it is typically simple, warm and versatile, which could explain where funeral sandwiches got their name.”
Another site, cleverhousewife.com, offered recipes for these delicacies under the snappy little header, ‘Nothing to mourn about here’. Of course, even I wasn’t deranged enough to think I’d have time to make them myself, so I ordered from a caterer and asked my daughter to collect them on the big day.
As the party approached I became more and more convinced that we would need other stuff to offset the funereal fare, so I picked up dips, chips, cheese straws, nuts, olives and a slew of other ‘just in case’ substitutes.
“I’ll just put them out on serving plates or in bowls,” I said blithely to Mr. Wallethead, momentarily forgetting that all the serving plates and bowls were triple wrapped, boxed and stashed in the garage awaiting their journey to a new life in the city.
As it turned out, both our farewell celebrations did have one element common to a funeral – it was like being at your own wake. People said lovely things about what we meant to them and how much they would miss us; my esteemed editor and two co-conspirators wrote and sang a brilliant and witty version of My Way, re-titled Kate’s Way; and one long-time friend created a poster for guests to sign at the house party (see photo).
In the months leading up to the final bash, we had been madly divesting ourselves of four decades worth of junk, magazines, paperbacks, broken furniture, paint cans and chipped mugs dating back to the last millennium.
When the party was over, we had amassed another mountain of recyclable containers, cups and plates, which will necessitate a final farewell trip to the dump before we set out on what we hope will be Kate and Dermont’s Excellent Adventure.
By the time you read this, we will be in our apartment, surrounded by boxes, bedding and books, and wondering where on earth we put the corkscrew.