June 2, 2009


I was about fourteen or so when my grandfather died. Some parts of his funeral I dimly remember but there are parts I can sharply recall.

At the end of the eulogy the funeral director motioned for my mother, grandmother, and father to stand and approach the open casket for a final farewell. The director then took grandfather’s gently removed the glasses from his face and handed them to grandmother before closing the casket.

Everyone filed out to their cars for the funeral procession to Franklinton cemetery. We rode in a limousine behind the hearse. I was in a jump seat behind the driver’s side. It was a very silent ride along the country roads. On the right there was a steep hillside with four or five men standing next to a black man lying face up, arms outstretched on the ground, his blank eyes stared unseeing at the sky. There were two tractors connected by block and tackle close by.

I still wonder if I was the only witness riding in the limousine that day. If my brother and sisters saw the scene that day, they didn’t say anything about it afterwards. Neither did I.

It was either the day before or the day after the funeral when we drove to pick up the clothes grandfather wore at the time of his fatal heart attack. A brown paper grocery bag with khaki pants and checkered shirt sat on the floorboard near my older sister. Looking at the bag of clothes, she sobbed as we pulled into grandmother’s gravel driveway.


  1. Such poignant memories, bb. My dear grandmother died at age 56 when I was 13. It was a very sad time for me. I still often wish she had lived to meet my husband and children.

  2. That was really touching. During stressful events like this, time seems to pass extra slowly, and I feel like a spectator watching myself react to the events. Surreal feeling.