Sunday, August 14, 2011

Uneventful events

Sorry, gentle reader, that it's been more than a week since my last post.

I've been busy. Sort of.

For one thing, The Dispatch — the newspaper from which I retired five years ago and for whom I still cover sports events on a contract basis — is getting ready to put out its annual area prep football section, and I wrote four stories in a two-day span to meet the deadline.

Then I had to take care of some house issues. We recently learned that we might be prime candidates for replacing our sewer line from the house to the street. Oh boy. Ka-ching.

Then our clothes dryer — which we've owned for about 25 years, nearly spanning the length of my marriage to my wife — conked out, and our elderly washer is being infuriatingly selective in which cycles it wants to employ. Ka-ching.

We also priced new mattresses. I think you're supposed to replace an old mattress something like every eight years or so, and ours is now almost a teenager. Ka-ching.

The week was wrapped up by the funeral of one of my wife's aunts. The service and burial were held in Roaring River, a tiny hamlet near North Wilkesboro, in an area that is criss-crossed by the back country roads that stock car legend Junior Johnson made famous running moonshine nearly 60 years ago.

Plus, I just didn't feel like posting anything. I think I was distracted by all these non-event events.

Interestingly enough, however, I think it was the funeral that kicked me back into observation mode.

My wife (right) helps uncover the foot stone of a relative.
Funerals tend to put me in an introspective mood anyway, possibly because they remind me that the time remaining for my own earthly presence is diminishing. This particular ceremony leaned a bit on the fundamentalist side for me, which tends to make me a little uncomfortable, peppered as the service was with interjections of "Amen, brother," or "Glory be," or "Praise the Lord." There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not how I was raised in the church. It's all personal interpretation anyway, but I still squirmed in the pew.

But then, twice, this pastor broke out into song. He sang an incredible a cappella version of "Beulah Land," somehow losing his syrupy-thick North Carolina foothills accent along the way, replaced by a rich, soothing baritone. It was simply sensational. I perked up. I listened to the lyrics. I paid attention. I surprised myself.

The service then reverted back to the spoken word for a while. To me, a good funeral recalls the deceased with bits of humor and fond memories, but this time, the pastor had the family weeping — at times sobbing — and I squirmed again.

Then he picked up his acoustic guitar and sang "In the Sweet Bye and Bye." Outside of "Amazing Grace" (which can bring me to tears in a heartbeat), I'm usually not one for traditional gospel music. But this was something else. His voice was enchanting. His fingers caressed the guitar. I was refreshed. How, at my advanced age, can I keep having these unexpected revelations in unexpected places at unguarded moments?

The funeral was followed by a meal in the fellowship hall, where my wife got to socialize with some of her relatives, including a few of the epicureans that showed up at the family reunion a month ago.

Then, the best part of the day was my wife and a few of her relatives taking off to a nearby cemetery to find where her grandparents were buried. They found the site and dug out — with their hands — the identifying foot stones that had settled into the ground and under the grass. They also found the old family homestead, so the afternoon proved to be satisfyingly fruitful.

I don't know. Somehow, the week ended better than it began.

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