Oh, it was a swell gathering, a gathering of swells.
The beachfront mansion opened onto a marble terrace that flowed to a lawn bordered by birds of paradise and hibiscuses and that ended at the wide beach receiving the ocean’s waves.
The 200 attractive, stylish guests mingled, chatted, and enjoyed the champagne and sumptuous cuisine displayed on tables and bars and passed by the formally attired servers. Victoria had called the caterer only the day before, and the elegance of the affair belied the short notice.
As the brilliant orange sun began to set, the servers passed more champagne and asked the guests to gather on the lawn near a platform bedecked in potted miniature magnolia trees sporting the brilliant white flowers of Mississippi, birthplace of Victoria and her mother, Maureen.
The guests talked and laughed as the servers passed more drinks and food. It was a convivial crowd whose chattering was undimmed by the appearance on the platform of a distinguished gentleman solemnly dressed.
Standing next to a silver urn, he spoke into a microphone, “May the memory of Maureen be a blessing,” but few heard him. He continued, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Hardly anyone forsook their own chitchat to listen to him.
He continued, “He causes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” That garnered even less attention.
The gentleman stepped down from the platform and approached Victoria, who was standing at the front of the crowd. He told her, “Though no one is listening, I will continue for Maureen’s sake. She deserved that much.”
“You do what you must,” Victoria told him, “but dear,” gesturing her hand around the setting and the swells, “these beautiful people, these glamorous surroundings, this is what my mother deserved.”