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Ode to Joe: The Love and Blessing of Family

RB

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Beautiful is not a word usually associated with a funeral. In our Southern heartland family, the love that exudes from such an experience even though coming from a sorrowful event, can absolutely make your heart glow. It makes you proud to belong to such a family. To have been born into this family makes me one of luckiest people in the world.

I come from a very large family. There were ten siblings in my father’s family. The memories I have of going to my aunt’s and uncle’s rural farms were some of the happiest memories of my childhood. All my aunts and uncles made all of the children feel special and loved. We were in a safe and happy place. These feelings of love and comfort followed many of us into our adult life.

Early on, my extended family realized the importance of becoming diligent about family reunions on a regular basis, especially after the death of my oldest aunt. Taking people for granted can lead to regret. We all think things will remain the same forever. Unfortunately, they don’t. What a rude awakening.

And so time marches on…

This weekend I attended the funeral of my cousin, Joe who slipped into his eternal sleep during the morning hours Thursday. His family went to awaken him. The yard filled with Volunteer Fire Vehicles and EMS first responders.

The news came from my cousin who was on her way to visit him. She got the unexpected news as she was going out the door. I was preparing to leave town to go on vacation. In an instant everyone’s life changed. The feelings that flood you in a such a moment cannot be fully expressed. To say the least, you are stunned or in shock.

So, the telephone and text messages start buzzing with so many questions. “I have some bad news.” “Did you know?” “Well what in the world happened?” “Are you going to be able to come?” “When will you be here?” “Do you know if Ruthie is coming? I haven’t seen her in forever.” “Where’s the funeral going to be? When?”

Yeah, we can ask so many redundant questions. But those questions are not just taking up empty air. They are an attempt to connect and ‘reach out and touch someone.’ It soothes the loss. It’s a small comfort in those initial hours; just hearing our loved ones’ voices. We are gathering and regrouping… a…

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RB

RB is a retired psychotherapist, storyteller, genealogists and lover of family.