Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Minor Rant -- and some observations!

I have unashamedly stolen the rant part of the title from someone else, she will recognize herself.

I went to church this morning, the first time since Mother's funeral. I actually dreaded going but the longer I put it off the worse it would get. Everyone is so very solicitous which is nice, but I really am getting a little tired of being asked "Are you all right?" Because on one level, of course, I'm not all right, I just buried my much loved Mother. But in reality, I am all right and ready to get on with my life. I just had a call from my cousin asking the same question. I must have sounded a little sharp when I replied, "of course" because she said she was just checking and I had to apologize.

This was not some sudden, unexpected, tragic death. This was the quiet ending to a long life, well lived. And whatever theology you subscribe to about life after death, she is at peace. She leaves a legacy of descendants who treasure her memory and live by the values instilled in them from early childhood. She had friends of all ages who visited her and supported me during the past few years, and she went out with dignity and a good laugh at the end.

In 1942, when I was Daddy got a job at the Jacksonville Arsenal and we moved from Warren, Arkansas, to North Little Rock. We lived in a succession of housing, always moving when Mother could find something better, and we ended up in a small house in a new neighborhood built right next to the Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks. My brother (I had only one in those days) and I would stand in our back yard and wave to the troops trains as they went by, earning the occasional candy bar as a reward. We never noticed the noise of the trains, and were happy to have a nice house and the only father in the neighborhood who was not in the military.

After the war we moved several times, and eventually all went our separate ways.

About 15 years ago, after I returned to Arkansas, Mother, Daddy, and I decided to combine households and I bought a large house on a hill in North Little Rock, overlooking what is now the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, the same tracks we lived by 50 years earlier. Once again we did not notice the trains except for the occasional engineer who played on the horn at the two crossings on either side of our neighborhood.

Mother and Daddy are buried in Edgewood Cemetery in North Little Rock, beside those same tracks. On Tuesday, in the middle of the committal service, a train went by with great noise and blowing of the horn. It was all we could do not to burst into laughter. It was like a final salute.

What more could anyone ask, to go out quietly, knowing you were loved, with a loud train horn announcing your departure.


Doubtful Muse said...

That train whistle was awesome. If people hadn't been sitting behind me, I would have turned around and waved!

Janna said...

That was me on the other comment, not John.
I totally understand the church thing. People mean well, but they often come across as the wrong way. I think maybe it would be nice to return to some of the grief rituals of yesteryear: having a certain amount of time, not wearing color, and other things that I'm not even aware of. Maybe I should do some research.