Thursday, August 11, 2011

Funeral in a small town

The young lady I tutor in reading has become very special to me and when her grandmother died recently, I knew I had to attend the funeral.

She has some intellectual limitations, so when she told me it was the white church in Blair I knew I needed more information.  I finally got the name of the church and Googled it to make sure I could find my way the next day.

I allowed plenty of time in case I got lost or ran into road work, which was good because both happened.  Getting lost is normal for me, so I've developed many coping skills.  I could either plug in the GPS  or stop at that little neighborhood bar and ask.  I went into the bar.

The lady behind the bar assured me I was only about five miles away and specified that it was the WHITE church.  What is with this?  Aren't most churches white?   Then she explained that I would come to a brick church first and to keep going until I arrived at the white church.  Oh. And the good news was that I had time for a burger before the funeral.  There's nothing like a hamburger cooked on an old time grill in the small bars of Wisconsin. Yum.

After listening to the men in bib overalls discussing the current state of the union and getting the hog prices for the day, I continued on to the white church.  Having been raised in No-where-ville as a child this experience was strangely comforting and disturbing at the same time.

I went in and found my friend who proceeded to take me by the hand and introduce me to everyone in her family as "her teacher".  It was almost like having rock star status.  She went off with her aunt, who was wearing a very tight mini skirt, low cut halter top (showing a rose tattoo on the right breast), stacked heel sandles and teased up hair.  Blue eye shadow seemed very popular among the family.  And to think I was worried about having worn an ankle length skirt because it was white.  Well, that pressure was off.

Then I took my seat for the service.  You must remember ...small town...Wisconsin.  After listening to the chatter around me and learning who sent what arrangement and the best sales going on at Wal-Mart the opening music began... a country western song played on a CD.

I had to stiffle a giggle, I'm sorry...but it just took me by surprise.  I'm sure it had a lot of meaning to the family, but I just wasn't ready for it.  I kept my head bent with my hand to my mouth and was pretty sure I looked the part of a grieving person.  It's been a while since I was in a church, which I realized when I started opening the prayer book from the back.   Whoops...that's right - they go the other way.

I couldn't help but notice a lady sitting a few rows ahead of me.  I wondered if anyone else was thinking the same thing I was....that we looked an awful lot alike.  There was a curiosity in me that wanted to ask who her father was, since this was the area my biological father had lived  before his death.  But then I decided I really didn't want to know if I had any half-siblings.  It was a bit eerie though.

The minister did a wonderful job and after singing some familiar hymns and hearing family testimonials the service concluded.  It was a wonderful tribute to a great woman, who I am happy to say I had the pleasure of meeting her several times.

After the service we walked across the field to the cemetery attached to the church yard, as is the custom in these parts.  There was a brief graveside service and then everyone disbursed, leaving the casket sitting there by the hole...waiting.  It bothered me to just leave her there. I really do prefer the Jewish custom of everyone assisting in covering the casket with dirt before leaving.  But, that would probably creep them out.  It's all what you're comfortable with.

Long Live the Queen

1 comment:

  1. The auntie seems like quite a colorful fun character. I think finding someone who looked so much like me would give me many curious sleepless nights. Somewhere out there, I have 3 or 4 half siblings that I never met. I think it might be nice to meet them someday before I leave this earth behind.

    Your description of the day's events left me with a big smile. You have a great day, hugss, Edna B.