My father passed away six years ago this month. He also, did not want anything after his death. I told my mom that we could have a small thing at my home, (dad was cremated), for friends and family. She did not want anything, but I think this had more to do with that she was distraught, (rightly so).
My dad seems to have passed the torch or maybe this is becoming more common, but all of his siblings who have passed since then have done the same thing. I can understand having no funeral or graveside service. I don't want them myself.
But, I don't understand not having a wake or get together. The deceased is dead. Why does it matter to them? They won't be here. (Yes, I know, honoring their wishes).
But, I really wish I would have done something. My dad was such a great guy and loved and liked by many. I would have loved to seen my cousins, aunts and uncles still alive at the time, (because you know as we get older, have our own lives, we do not see these people as much as we did when we were younger, except at funerals, it seems, any longer). I would have loved to talk about memories of my father, funny stories about him, (he was such a character and prankster).
The wakes are usually not about the deceased, but about the living. (Oxymoron, isn't it?).
I don't know how you are involved with the family, but if it were me, I would encourage the widow and son to get involved and attend the wake. They should be involved in as far as keeping it simple. It does not need to be a party type atmosphere, (although, if it were me, I would love a party at my wake! lol), but some food and drinks should be sufficient. I would also have notecards available for friends and family to write down stories that the family can look at later. You will be surprised at what you did not know about the deceased or maybe never heard of before. Maybe have a photo album with pictures of the deceased about his life.
They might be surprised by how much they might enjoy talking about their spouse/father with others.
But, they should not feel pressured if they do not wish to paritcipate, nor should they pressure the son who does want to do the gathering. Everyone grieves differently.