Tuesday afternoon was the visitation. There was a closed casket flanked by flowers from the board of trustees and Friends of the local library. It was evident that Padre was a private person, as these were the only flowers (apart from the wreath on top of the casket). On a flat-screen television in one corner was a collage of photos of Padre during his life, from high school through his military service, his marriage to Madre, his life with us kids, his ultralight hobby and his vacations out west.
Among the folks who showed up for the visitation were:
And, near the end of the visitation, my brother’s family, consisting of his ex-wife and their four children.
Among the interesting things that came out of the visitation.
The next morning was the service. It was very short, no more than twenty minutes, held at a blue awning over the spot where Padre would be buried. The Rev. Leo Moore, who used to work at Dana with Padre and who is now a minister at a chapel that was once the Baptists’ fellowship hall, gave a few words of comfort and encouragement to those of us who attended — all my family except my sister/editor, who feared having to listen to Bible verses — an unwarranted fear as the Reverend gave none.
After the service I changed clothes and got to work burning the mound of vegetation, that had been accumulating since last fall. It was a nice change of pace, as I used to like burning trash until the town forbade it in the early 1990’s. After hours of burning, I came to know that it was impossible to burn it all in the time I had. So, I got some yard bags from home and filled seven bags of hay, weeds, sticks and branches. Even then, at the end of the afternoon, there was still some stuff left. There was also a lot of soil formed from composted material. Bill suggested Madre hire a mini-bulldozer to scrape up the soil.
I washed up, put on some clean clothes, and returned to the funeral home one more time. Capping a very bad week, I learned that Roger, one of the two owners of the Giant bar and grill (ex-classmate Anna Justus is the other) died suddenly Sunday morning. I went to pay my respects and offer consolances to Anna. This has been a very bad year for her: First her nephew Titus gets killed in car/train crash a block and a half from my house. (The crossing now has stop signs to prevent this from happening again.) Then her father pass away. And now, this.
As an aside, while I was walking home from Madre’s Tuesday morning I found a group of people at the old Fairmount High School, on a cherry-picker, opening one of the windows leading to the auditorium. I found that the group was the Lions Club, who had bought the stage inside and were going to dismantle and remove it from the building in order to store it. It is just as well: The building is doomed, and the Lions wanted to salvage the one remaining intact item from James Dean’s time here.
I did not know whether it was okay to get my usual Thursday evening dinner from the Giant bar and grill, now that one of its partners was no longer with us. When I visited, I found the place packed with revellers, with Anna dancing with some guy to music from the juke box. Hey, even my neighbors from next door were there! There were two thoughts going through my head at seeing this:
So I left, intending to try again tomorrow.