We rolled into Brewton, Alabama, midafternoon, a few days before the funeral visitation. Brewton is wife’s hometown. We are burying her mother soon.
The sun was bitterly hot. It was 101 degrees outside, hot enough to remind you of all those Baptist brimstone sermons from your childhood.
We drove past the town sign with its Kiwanis, Rotary Club, and Lions Club badges. “Home of Alabama’s Blueberry Festival,” the sign says. We passed the downtown’s proud brick storefronts, the lamp posts with hanging begonias, and the old stone church covered in ivy.
Meantime, my wife was telling me a funny story about her mother. By the time we were pulling into the bed and breakfast she wrapped up the story by flicking tears from her eyes.
“Lord have mercy,” she said, as I held her in the silence of our car. “She’s really gone.”
Lord have mercy.
It’s been a sobering week since her mother died. Since then, my wife has been telling lots of stories.
Losing a family member is a full-time job. There are gazillions of
details that need sorting out after someone departs. There are no idle moments before a funeral.
The irony is, after a loved one’s death all you want to do is hide and lick your sores. But you can’t. You must spend your hours painstakingly deciding on things like floral sprays and who will make the deviled eggs for the wake.
And the whole time you keep getting overwhelmed with this unusual urge. An urge you’ve never had before. You are in “historic preservation” mode, you have the urge to tell stories.
We left for dinner that evening. The dinner was held at the old family house on Belleville Avenue, an antique columned home where my wife’s mother spent her childhood.
My wife took one look at the old house and another fifty stories bubbled to the surface.
We walked inside. The heart pine…