From Sister Sue -
The story below is also attached to the original post ("And another musical light flickers out" August 2009), but here they in one place, for everyone who asked about the event on Saturday in New York.
Thanks for writing, Sue - it sounds like the kind of loving commemoration of a life all of us would like to leave behind someday. Please do share my August blog post with Nina - and let her know Willy's music will remain in my heart.
Here is Sue's recap:
Hello all. My apologies for taking so long to get back here. As you can imagine, I have been just overwhelmed.
The event was incredible. There was a ton of work to be done getting ready. I mean weeks of work. It consumed my life and at times I had to wonder if it was worth it. It was.
Nina (Willy's wife) had written to me asking if she could come. I had a feeling that she would not show and she ended up deciding at the last minute not to come. That was fine. If she didn't feel it was right for her then I think she did the right thing. I only wanted two things. And I wanted them desperately. To honor Willy and to find someone... ANYONE!... to share emotions with.
We had a good turn out of fans and the bar was perfect (Bar on A at 170 Avenue A, NYC). I spent hours decorating it. Pictures of Willy everywhere. Candles. Signs. Memory book. White roses. Etc... The bar was homey with couches and was intimate and it looked great!!
We had only been going for about 15 minutes. People were eating, drinking and singing (very loudly!!!) to all the Willy songs I was playing. A man in his 30's came in, looked around and immediately became teary. It was Kevin. Willy's nephew. Kevin has lost his mother and father. Willy was everything to him. Everything.
Someone immediately introduced me to him. He grabbed me, hugged and kissed me and told me multiple times how much the family appreciated this. After he calmed down a bit I asked him if he would like to speak when I got the program going. At first he was uncertain because he is extremely emotional still. But he resolved that he wanted to speak. So I told him that we'd let people get drinks, mingle, more people arrive, then start the program.
I had put out a sign up sheet for audience members who wanted to speak. Quite a few signed up. So I told Kevin that I would speak first to break the ice, then he would talk so he could get it out of the way and relax and listen to the audience speakers.
When I went up to the stage to speak, Kevin got a bar stool and put it down right next to me. He would laugh, cry and comment on many of the things I said, often grabbing my arm and pulling me towards him. He made both public and private comments, which I will always treasure.
Kevin's speech, totally unprepared and from the heart, was amazing. People in the audience were literally sobbing.
The event went on for about 6 or 7 hours. Everyone in the place came up and expressed thanks for organizing the event. They all needed to acknowledge, celebrate, remember... whatever... Willy. Willy's son, Sean, showed up as well. He, Stephanie (Kevin's girlfriend) and Kevin expressed thanks many times from the family. It was very touching.
We had a memory book at the event. People wrote thoughts, emotions, and messages to Nina. I am going to send the memory book to Nina on Monday. I had to bring it home because I had not had time to write in it, my daughter (11 years old!) wanted to write in it and a few people here in Kansas City want to write in it.
Would anyone here like to contribute as well? I think it woud be awesome if you would share your thoughts, feelings, emotions, whatever you want to share. I know that Nina will treasure it. If you write something I will print it off and make sure it gets into the memory book and directly to Nina as long as you get it to me before Monday. I really really hope that you are able to do this!!!
If you do write for the Memory Book PLEASE get it to me before Monday. Do not write it here. Email it to WDcelebration@gmail.com. You can certainly post it here also if you want, but I need everything coming to one place. Please!! I am completely overwhelmed as it is!
That's the report for now. I look forward to getting your thoughts for the memory book. We all know how much Willy would appreciate us writing to Nina and letting her know our feelings for Willy and his music.
If anyone can tell me how to post pictures I will be happy to post pics of Kevin, Sean, audience, decorations, etc.
Love and Emotion to all! SisterSue