Monday, October 12, 2009


My neighbor was buried on a cold, January day. She was 52 years old and died a hard
cancer death home. Her husband loved her very much.

It had to be the most God-Awful weather for a funeral I have ever
experienced. I didn't go to visitation but to the funeral because I knew I
would know few there. When I saw, Sunday morning, how bad the weather was I planned on going on to the cemetery and dressed for it, thinking that a lot of the older people just would not be able to do it in that cold blowing sleet and freezing rain.

But North Missourians take their dying seriously and on that dim morning, headlights strung out behind me as far as I could see and I was many cars behind the family. She was buried in the little Christian Chapel Cemetery just around the corner to the South where the old church was blown off the foundation last year.

Blowing sleet..and those old people soaked and chilling. The only men in overcoats were the high school principal, the banker and the guys from the funeral home. I stood next a neighbor away back from the green canvassed area that held the gravesite and a few chairs for family and we talked about cows and hay and coyotes. The sleet rattled down on my neighbor's shoulders and I tried not to think about how precarious his own health was. And I was shamed by the warmth of my old blue wool coat and the sweater under it and the thermal underwear under my skirt.

Even the children dripped in that weather. And no one rushed them to cars
or shelter.

The people just stood there .. and I just stood there and listened to the
silent people, because I could not hear what the minister was saying
inside the green tent that barely covered the family and what struck
me was that these people were not in tune with the messages of "in my house
there are many mansions" and "there is a better place up yonder", but that
theirs was rather the steadfastness of a strong people who did not take
death lightly but refused to bend to it.

And I was left with the wish that when they plant me it would be on such a
day. A cold day. Swept with rain and sleet and bereft of any tempting sweet
breath or breeze to hold me to this earth that I love so. And that these
strong people, or others like them, would salute my passing

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