Tim's funeral took place graveside. My friend Gene picked me up at my father's house quite early, as we did not want to somehow miss something we had each driven a long way to attend. The zealous attention to timeliness proved predictably overstated, as the distance from my father's home to the Memorial Cemetery is but five minutes. We are of the school of thought that we'd rather be early--even if awkward in our promptitude--than late.
After finding our bearings, we drove about a bit. We passed the Whiteside School, where Tim and I played many a game of sandlot touch football with other high-school and 20something kids. We passed the basketball goals at the old Camden High School (which has disappeared, per se, in a school merger, and now serves some other school-ish function). Gene told me a story about a part of Tim's social life that took place at that schoolground.
We made our way back to the cemetery. We were impressed to find that several of Tim's co-workers from Hot Springs made the 75+ mile drive to the service. Gene mentioned that he had not often been to the cemetery. My mother and my maternal grandparents are buried there, so I've been often indeed.
We got a chance to speak to Tim's brother Bill and to his sister Ginger. I know that losing a sibling must be so hard for them. As we waited for the service to begin, Tim's old friend Rodney came and shook hands. I had not seen Rodney for years. I thought it good of him to come from Little Rock, 100 miles away, for the service. He told me his youngest daughter is about to start university--and I thought how the last time I spoke with Rodney, he was unmarried and childless, and the world has changed while I was not looking.
Tim's wife and daughter and step-son arrived. His daughter bears a tremendous resemblance to Tim. What a difficult time for them. I am sorry for their tremendous loss. At 10 a.m., the attendants gathered the family under the little graveside tent. The other 50 or so of us gathered around. A minister led the service, Bible in hand. He said he was not here to judge--would that we all were not here to judge.
As with all such services, I liked best the prayers and the songs. We sang no hymns this morning. Warblers in the trees punctuated the air with song. Camden's resting place hosts large pine trees, in which mockingbirds and crows often perch. The morning was warm--but not too warm. I did not so much perspire as glisten with memories. We stood amid lettered stones and trees and listened to avian benedictions.
We stopped by to pay respects to Tim's wife prior to departing. She and I barely have met each other, but Gene
knows her better,and could offer better condolences. We drove to my father's house and changed to casual clothes. I bade Gene goodbye, as he had a 9 1/2 hour drive to Kansas City to undertake.
I drove towards Hope, on my way back to Dallas. I shed a tear as closure set in.
Deep in the country, a small fawn deer crossed into the center of the road. I slowed, and watched it see me, turn, and gracefully walk into the deep bottomlands pine. It vanished into the woods. I drove on.