I’ve been in Las Vegas for a couple days. My uncle Raymond passed away (he was 94) and some family members gathered for a memorial. Twenty years ago, the oldest La Grou brother (my dad had 8 siblings) decided to spread his ashes on a remote hilltop in the high desert, about an hour outside of Vegas. To this day, nobody knows how or why he picked this particular hill..
We were taking care of my dad during his last months of life in 1994. He gave me a map and told me that he wanted his ashes to be spread on the same desert hilltop. Since then, other siblings and their spouses have joined them in this beautiful, desolate place they called Stonehaven.
Each time we’ve visited, a wonderful Lutheran pastor named Don Pieper officiates an intimate memorial in his church’s building in Henderson. We all shared our stories of Ray: he appeared as an extra in 30 movies (lived in L.A.), rode the scariest roller coasters with his grandkids until age 92, made untold 8mm-S8-VHS-DV movies of family events (he filmed our wedding in 1983 – a treasure), and always infected others with a hopeful, positive, can-do outlook. Ray lost his only son (Skip) in Viet Nam.
Ray’s granddaughter Jennifer, whom I had never met, gave a beautiful talk. When Jen was finishing up her masters at UCLA, she lived with grandpa and they became very close friends – wonderfully reflected by the depth of love in her memorial talk. I want to write more about Jennifer in the near future – she’s living in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire as a relief director for the CARE organization. An amazing woman.
After the memorial, I took all of Ray’s grandkids – my cousins – to the Celine Dion show. Celine uses our recording equipment so we always get the “VIP” treatment! After the show, her audio director, Francois Desjardins, gave us the grand tour. Here’s Francois and the grandkids after the show. Jennifer is left, then James and Julie.