St. John Vianney’s altar was as striking as the outside scenery. The large cross, attached to the wall directly behind the priest, looked like intertwined tree branches. At the base of the cross were trails of ivy growing through a mound of Sedona’s red rocks, giving the cross the appearance that it was freestanding.
To the right side of the cross was a life-sized figure of Christ, complete with nail marks in the figure’s hands and feet. The design of the altar reflected Sedona’s art colony, but there was no feeling here for Kathleen of an intimacy with God.
The first half of the Mass finished and Father O’Malley began his eulogy. Kathleen placed her hat back on her head, hoping it would provide some semblance of privacy.
“Scott Buckley was the best of Sedona,” the priest said with a hint of his Irish brogue that made him such a favorite at social events frequented by Sedona’s wealthy. No one could tell a joke better than Father O’Malley. At those affairs, the lanky priest’s thick blond hair would fall forward into his eyes as he imbibed a little too much of the fine Irish whisky offered him.
“This man wasn’t just a businessman or Sedona’s best unofficial promoter. He was Sedona. There wasn’t a morning that he couldn’t be seen at Friendly Bob’s Restaurant, drinking coffee and dreaming up ways to make Sedona better. He was responsible for the kind of close-knit loving community we live in today.”
Kathleen raised her eyes to look at the priest and wondered for a moment why he would throw in such an untruth, but then she looked over at the ushers and saw the collection baskets in their hands.
The priest continued after letting his last comment sink in.
“When he came here in 1964 and opened Buckley Hardware, Scott envisioned a community where all could benefit from the beauty of the red rocks, where business would flourish and where there would be schools, parks, and recreation for its residents. He envisioned a city that would draw thousands of tourists, yet remain small—a hometown community for the people who live here. And he worked to make that city a reality.
“Scott cared. Not only about Sedona, but about his family. He alone raised his two daughters, Jessica and Natalie, after the untimely death of his first wife, Morgan.”
The priest put his eyes down. Morgan’s suicide was a scandalous episode that the priest was able to keep from the ears of the community because of his influence with Sedona’s sheriff.
Although nothing was ever said between them, Father O’Malley knew Scott’s large Easter donation to the church was not given out of the goodness of his heart.
“Scott was a beloved father to his daughters and an adoring son to his parents, who are no longer living. He was also close to his brother, Philip, who will be taking over the family’s financial enterprises.”
Father O’Malley took a deep breath, audible over the church microphone. “He was also beloved by his second wife, Kathleen.”
Kathleen jerked her head up to look at the priest. She saw an involuntary movement from Philip Buckley at the sound of her name, and Jessica and Natalie whispered to one another.
A momentary smile came to Kathleen. Her personal opinion of Timothy O’Malley was that he spent his time away from the altar soothing the wealthy egos of his parish. She was surprised by his show of intestinal fortitude.
The priest paused and looked over the well-heeled crowd. “Scott Buckley will be deeply missed by this community. He can never be replaced.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish