Today I helped stuff over 300 name tags into plastic holders and sort them alphabetically. PCEI is having their 25th anniversary celebration and auction on Friday night, and it promises to be the party of the century. I got an email from them yesterday stating that the groover $10,000 match had been met and that there would be a funding update at the dinner auction. I sighed. This dinner auction is about PCEI. It is not about Jim, it is not about the LaFortune family. Enough already, I thought.

Today, it took me 4 hours just to stuff and alphabetize name tags. There was also an auditor in the office, so I did not want to crank the tunes. A few other volunteers showed up and quickly went about their business. It was just me, and all those names. As I stuffed and sorted, I realized that I either knew or knew of most of them. Many were friends. Some were teaching colleagues of Jim’s. Some were folks I knew through work. Some were familiar MAMBA names, some, like the mayor, everyone knows. Add a few returning from out-of-town, and names I only knew from seeing them on a list of helpers when Jim was so sick and we needed the assistance. I started thinking back to that time.

The dinner auction will be at Eastside. I can’t lie, that place still holds some PTSD for me. It was where we had Jim’s memorial service. It is also where we had the dance auction that helped us raise funds for medical expenses. Back then, back in November of 2009, I did not want an auction. I just wanted one last chance to dance with Jim. One of my friends pulled me aside and said, “Kathie, people WANT to do this, they NEED to do something for you and Jim. Please….just let go and let them”.

This was my first recognition that perhaps this whole thing was not about Jim and me, but about the greater community of Moscow. This town is filled with people, just like me, that just NEED to do something to make the world a better place. I saw it while Jim was sick, I saw it when he died, I’ve seen that care expressed for other community members in similar situations since. We are truly blessed to live here.

The LaFortune Groover may bear our family name. I’m glad that we started the pot of money with gifts from Jim’s memorial. But this composting toilet facility is not about Jim, it is not about the LaFortune family. This is about PCEI, its long-standing work in our community. It is a Moscow Memorial….and one, like compost, that just keeps giving.

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