Friday, September 02, 2005

Of Funerals and Families

Well, Big Sam's mama was safely laid to rest in the cemetery back in Cleburne today. The family dynamics went smoothly, which was not expected, estranged sisters being hard to predict and all. But getting that tent over the gravesite proved mighty smart, the temperature being hot enough to fry a thought before it leaves your mind. The ceremony was solemn but hopeful, 'cause mama was a believer and the Lord knows who his sheep are.

Later that evening some previously unknown cousins and all-too-well-known siblings swapped stories and genealogies over a chicken-fried steak dinner, chewing over the family history all the way back to Tennessee. Copies of land deeds made back in the 1700s traded hands. Big Sam got his Texas accent back in a Jiminy Cricket. All in all it was a fine way to honor mama, I mean, bringing the kids together on good terms once again. I'm sure she's smiling up there.

Family. Those folks who look like you, who carry the genes that define and surprise you. The family eyes, the family chortle, the family diseases. Finding out that one of those unknown cousins has a wad of belly fat just like Big Sam's, just like his grandpa who died at 55 surprised and defined by his lard-lined heart. Hoping that Big Sam won't die that way, because it would be just too hard on those of us left to grieve. Family. The people who remember not just the name of the ancestor who fought in the 13th North Carolina, but the details of the carpetbagger's death that made P.H. a refugee to Texas after the War. People who can talk about it like it was yesterday. Family.

Family.

A good thing.

May there be more of them.

2 comments:

Scorebored said...

Fine writing, Laurel. We're linking to you over at The White Picket Fence.

Laurel1861 said...

I am honored that you would link to me, Scorebored! You are one of the most eloquent and descriptive writers I know.

Many thanks,
Laurel